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Local mother battling for dead son's belongings

Posted at 6:37 AM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 06:39:21-04

There's an interesting battle brewing in Berea pitting a mother against the municipal court.

There are twists and turns in this case about drugs, unthinkable crimes and a mother's plea.

"Every night you go to bed praying, hoping, that he would live another day,” said Karen Zabrocki.  She knows how hard her son Jason Skinner struggled with addiction. She said her prayers were answered in God's own way. "I think God helped him by taking him home."

Despite rehab numerous times over the last 10 years, last November, Skinner was found dead of a heroin overdose at a now shutdown Travel Lodge in Brookpark.

"I grieve him every hour of every day," said Zabrocki.  But the hurt isn't just because of his death. Police had to get involved at the hotel. "They did arrest two people that found him in his room and proceeded to steal his belongings and take things." While Skinner was lying on the bed dead or near death, his stuff was stolen. One person is behind bars, the other charged with a misdemeanor theft.

Zabrocki told us Skinner didn't own much. Addiction stole his money.

"His black jacket, a backpack, a cell phone…those things are dear to me. They're priceless but they're probably not worth much money,” said Zabrocki.

We talked to the prosecutor handling the case and he explained there are many reasons he can't hand over the property including what other relatives of Skinner might want.

In Ohio the law states probate court isn't always required especially in cases where the assets are small.

Zabrocki said she will have to coordinate with her ex-husband now and file the paperwork needed, although it’s a process adding more grief after months of being shutout from her dead son's belongings.  "No one knows what it's like to lose a child until they do."

Here’s more information about probate court and what's required in the death of a loved one.