CLEVELAND — Alone and wandering, he sauntered down a rural road in the sun-bleached desert. He was looking for a man that didn’t exist. He was talking to no one. His skin, so badly burnt, deputies noted blisters on his scorched body. Dazed, disoriented and delusional, the man was later identified as Samuel William Legg III, the same man who, more than three years later, would be indicted, arrested and accused of being Northeast Ohio’s newest serial killer.
Through scores of court records, transcripts and police reports, News 5 has pieced together the four years leading up to Legg’s arrest last month for a rape that happened in Medina County in 1997. On the day of his arraignment, Legg was also indicted by a Mahoning County grand jury for the 1992 murder of a woman outside a truck stop near Austintown. The records and timelines uncovered by News 5 suggest Legg, who has also been linked to at least three more unsolved homicides, had lost his mind years before he lost his freedom.
Legg’s criminal history of petty theft and failure to pay child support dates back to at least 1989 when a Lorain County grand jury indicted the then 20-year-old on one count of theft. Then, in 1990, Legg was interviewed as part of an investigation into the suspicious death of his 14-year-old stepdaughter, Angela Hicks. The girl’s partially nude and badly decomposed body was found in a wooded area in Elyria in September 1990. According to newspaper reports at the time, Legg was one of the last people to see Hicks alive prior to her death.
Legg was never charged in connection with Hicks’ death. It is unclear if her death is one of the cases that Legg’s DNA was linked to. A spokesperson for the Elyria police department said the case remains under investigation and a case file has not yet been presented to the county prosecutor.
On April 9, 1992, a woman’s body was found at a truck stop on Interstate 80 near Route 46 in Austintown. Authorities say she died from multiple blunt force injuries to the head, face and chest. Sharon Kedzierski would be listed as a Jane Doe for more than two decades before she was identified. It would be even longer until Legg would be charged in connection with her death.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said this week it is fair to consider Legg, a former truck driver, a serial killer. How many cases Legg may be connected to remains unclear.
"It's an open question at the moment. There may be more than three (in Ohio)," Yost said.
According to marriage and divorce records, Legg appears to have moved to Arizona in late 2000 or 2001. His interaction with the courts system was largely quiet, aside from two marriages. Both marriages ended in divorce within two years.
Then, in at least as early as 2015, Legg’s mental faculties began to unravel.
In January 2015, Legg was cited for third degree criminal trespass in Tucson, Arizona. Legg was initially admitted to the city’s veterans treatment court, which tried to offer him an inpatient treatment program for veterans suffering mental health issues, court records state. However, Legg failed to appear for court hearings on three occasions between April and August of 2015.
On April 6, 2015, a man later identified as Legg walked onto a campground resort property. Badly sunburned, dehydrated and aggressive, Legg was reportedly trying to get into other people’s trailers.
At one point, Legg told the responding deputies that he was there to visit a friend of his that was staying at a nearby trailer. However, the owner of the trailer told deputies that he had no idea who Legg was.
Legg appeared manic, according to police reports.
“[Legg] spoke almost the entire time I was around him with very, very brief and seldom pauses in between,” the deputy wrote in his report. “He continued to change topics at a rapid pace. [Legg] gave me approximate three to four different reasons why he was on the property.”
The deputies took Legg into custody on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear. Less than three weeks later, deputies from the same sheriff’s department would again find Legg in a state of distress.
Deputies responded to a man who had been seen walking aimlessly for two to three hours. The man, later identified as Legg, wasn’t making sense, the deputies said.
“Mr. Legg was rambling about not getting picked up by a friend to be taken to his truck at an unknown location,” the report states. Deputies were unable to identify the friend or the truck Legg was looking for.
Legg also told the responding deputies that he had fallen several days before and had an upcoming doctors appointment for his neck. Legg could not lift his head and was badly burnt by the unforgiving Arizona sun.
Legg’s rambling and wandering didn’t stop.
“He seemed confused and was walking towards the middle of nowhere,” an August 16, 2015 police report stated.
He was on a dirt road, carrying a Walmart bag full of water. He had on a checkered shirt and pants. He was alone.
A baseball cap proved futile in preventing the sun's rays from scorching his skin, prompting blisters to blanket his body. Legg had been walking for quite some time, a deputy said.
Legg told the deputy he was going to a nearby fast food restaurant to meet up with his uncle Gary. Legg did not know Gary’s last name. The deputy asked Legg to call his uncle to find out where he was. Legg complied, telling the deputy he’d call him on his personal cell phone.
Legg didn’t have a phone.
“[Legg] then looked into his empty right hand and started talking to it as if he was having a cell phone conversation with someone,” the deputy wrote in his report. “After [Legg] got done talking into his hand, I asked [Legg] if he was able to get in contact with his uncle. He said he was able to get in contact with his uncle, Gary, and Gary was coming to pick him up.”
Gary didn’t pick Legg up and it’s unclear if Gary even exists.
Upon taking Legg to the county jail on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear, a decision that could have very well saved Legg’s life, the responding deputy filled out paperwork stating he believed Legg was a danger to himself.
“I believed that [Legg’s] decisions could be dangerous because he was walking out in the middle of nowhere. He really thought that someone was coming to pick him up,” the deputy said.
At some point in 2015, police reports suggest Legg was court ordered to receive mental health treatment. He was also required to live at a group home for the mentally ill located in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
However, Legg frequently escaped the group home or walked away from group home-related activities.
In March 2016, Legg, who was in his late 40s at the time, jumped out of the bedroom window. The caregiver at the group home told the responding officer that Legg had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, neurosyphilis and delusions, according to a police report.
“Legg’s behavior and cognitive delusions and hallucinations were worsening,” the report states.
Police found Legg two days later, after a homeowner called police saying there was a suspicious man standing in their driveway.
In 2017, Legg would be labeled a missing person multiple times.
In February of that year, staff from the group home brought Legg to a church. Instead of going to the restroom, Legg walked out the front door.
“[Legg is on medication for schizophrenia,” the police report states. “He hears voices that tell him he is needed in court in Tucson. [Group home staff member] said [Legg] has solicited rides from truck drivers previously to get to Tucson and has been found miles away from the group home in the past.”
Legg didn’t make it to Tucson but, instead, Tempe. The two cities are separated by more than 100 miles. A Chandler police officer took custody of Legg and noted that he was having trouble walking.
“[Legg] said that he had an accident in his pants,” the officer wrote in his report. “[Legg] said that he was attempting to walk home to Tucson. [Legg] said that he did eat today. He was happy he got to eat pizza.”
Legg would again disappear in March 2017, including twice in a seven-day span. He also was missing for brief periods of time in October and December 2018. In each of the reports filed in conjunction with those cases, Legg was described as having a severe mental illness, possibly suffering from neurosyphilis.
Getting home to Tucson was also a common thread. However, Legg won’t be disappearing any time soon.
“We think the other homicides will, in due course, be indicted as well,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Yost declined to identify the locations of the three other homicides Legg has been linked to because indictments have not been sought yet.
Given Legg’s recent history of documented mental illness, a judge has ordered Legg to undergo an evaluation that will determine whether he is competent to stand trial and assist in his own defense.
That hearing has been scheduled for mid-April.