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As the release of an Ohio nursing student's murderer looms on the horizon, the victim’s family and friends are launching a campaign to keep him behind bars.
Nearly 30 years ago, University of Toledo police officer Jeffrey Hodge was convicted of murdering 19-year-old nursing student Melissa Herstrum, according to Cleveland’s Fox 8. On the night of Jan. 27, 1992, Hodge pulled Herstrum over and placed her in handcuffs. He drove her in his cruiser to Scott Park Campus, where he shot her 14 times.
The following day, Hodge placed a phony call to a cab company, reporting that he’d seen a driver being robbed on campus, according to The Toledo Blade. The cab company forwarded the report to police. Soon after, Hodge and another officer responded to the police call and reported finding Herstrum’s frozen body on the ground.
According to The Toledo Blade, Hodge forced Herstrum to lay facedown before shooting her in the head, back, and arms.
“I don’t know, for no reason,” Hodge told a judge when he asked him why he committed the crime, accord to a 1997 article in The Toledo Blade.
Toledo Police said Hodge, then 22 years old, used the same 9-mm handgun to fire six shots into a dorm room only a week before the murder, according to the Blade.
“Jeffrey Hodge does not deserve to see the outside of a prison cell for the rest of his life,” Herstrum’s longtime friend, TJ McManamon, told Oxygen.com. “He committed the most gruesome crime at the University of Toledo on an innocent girl whom he never met.”
According to Fox 8, police arrested Hodge after a fellow detective noticed peculiar markings on Hodge’s handcuffs, marks that would turn out to be from the bullets he fired at Herstrum.
Hodge pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, kidnapping, and using a handgun during the commission of a felony.
He was handed a life sentence.
“Jeffrey Hodge should have received the death penalty, but he pleaded down to get life in prison,” McManamon told Oxygen.com. “Give him what he asked for. Life in prison. It is terrible that we even need to be dealing with this and making everyone relive these horrific events.”
Now, 29 years later, the state of Ohio is considering early release on the grounds of good behavior.
“I never, ever want him to be set free,” Herstrum’s sister, Cindy Herstrum-Clark, told Fox 8. “Ever.”
In August, Herstrum’s relatives and friends launched Melissa Forever, an online campaign aimed to petition against Hodge’s release.
“Please, remember where you were in 1992 when you heard Melissa had been killed,” the website reads. “Reminisce about what it was like to be 19, with your whole life ahead of you, and think of the years you have enjoyed since.”
Herstrum’s supporters have urged others to write letters and emails to the Ohio Parole Board.
“He did all of this as a police officer and in a position of authority,” McManamon told Oxygen.com. “He changed the lives of so many families, friends, students, and entire towns and shows no remorse. … Jeffrey Hodge is not fit to be a part of a society; he is a monster.”
Jeffrey Hodge is incarcerated at the Marion Correctional Institution and scheduled for a parole hearing on Sept. 21 or 22.
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