The Steve Noffsinger Case

The fact that I write a blog based on true crimes obviously indicates that I try to keep up with the news and televisions shows based on true crimes are generally my favorite and I watch little else.  My DVR is set to watch a few shows that my husband and I will watch together but aside from that it is generally filled with shows like 48 Hours and Dateline.  It used to be filled with the show Cold Justice on TNT but I have to admit that I stopped watching that one.  I was so excited when it first began to air because I am a fan of Kelly Siegler, the former Texas prosecutor, who was involved in the Susan Wright case.  I continued to like the show to learn about more cases that I had not heard of before, but over time I became disappointed in it.  I often felt that in more than a few cases the evidence "found" by Sigler and her team was rather flimsy and was so surprised when at the end of the episode it would show that someone had be arrested and charged in the case.  I was less surprised when I would follow up on the case and discover that the defendant was acquitted.  In fact, in one case that I blogged about here I did so prior to the trial and updated it after.  A person from the jury posted a comment on the story stating that the lack of evidence and seemingly rushed prosecution was the exact reason they were forced to acquit. The case against Steve Noffsinger is just such a case.

On December 17, 1981 in the small town of Oakwood Ohio Mary Kay Karnes went to the home of her friend and neighbor, Alma Noffsinger.  She found the door slightly open which was obviously odd but she walked in anyway.  She walked into a nightmare that she will never forget.  Aside from the door everything seemed normal until she walked into Alma's bedroom and found her bloodied body laying face down on her bed.  The medical examiner determined that the 29 year old mother of three had likely died around 24 hours prior to her body being found.  There was no forced entry to the home and nothing was disturbed outside the bedroom but Alma had been severely beaten.  She had massive injuries to her head, defensive wounds down her arms and one of her hands were broken.  

As with all investigations this one started with those closest to the victim.  Alma had been married twice.  She was first married to David Delgado and had two children with him to which David had custody.  Her second marriage was to Steve Noffsinger. They had a young boy together and had divorced the previous May.  Some reports say that they were in a custody battle for their son but I found no complete solid evidence of this. Mary Karnes would claim that Alma had relayed to her that Steve was abusive to her and due to this she was limiting his contact with their young son and only allowing him visits when they were pre-arranged.  So of course both ex-husband's had to be looked at and cleared.  David also had a girlfriend that lived with him and the children he had with Alma.  She too had to be looked at.  

Although I cannot fully confirm this, a recent court filing claims that Steve Noffsinger cooperated with the officers and allowed a search of his home and vehicle.  According to Noffsinger a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt were taken by investigators and tested through their lab in 1982.  His recent court filing states that the items were found to have nothing on them.  That same court filing claims that David's girlfriend, Maria failed a lie detector test around the time of the original investigation.  Police were unable to make an arrest and the case went cold for more than 30 years.

In 2013 a new prosecutor was elected and claims that Alma's family asked him to look into the case and see if it could be solved.  He has stated that it was around this same time that the producers of the TNT show Cold Justice had contacted about any cases they would like to work on.  In June of 2014 Kelly Siegler and her fellow investigators and people from the show went to Oakwood to work with the local police department on the case.  By the time they were done they had determined that Steve Noffsinger had killed his ex wife.  They had decided that the murder weapon was a "heavy stick" that Steve used to carry in his truck for work. Investigators claimed that after the murder the "stick" could not be found but that people who had seen the said "stick" described it and the medical examiner claimed it could have been the murder weapon (without actually seeing it) and the show stated it as if it were a fact. Steve's lawyers claim that after making their determination and filming the show that law enforcement was told that the episode would only air if there was an indictment.  

On July 31, 2014 the case was presented to a grand jury.  They proceeded to do just as Cold Justice would ask and grant an indictment. The following day Steve Noffinger would be charged with aggravated murder with special circumstances making him eligible for the death penalty.  On August 8, 2014, one week after his arrest TNT aired the episode of Cold Justice about the case.  Prosecutors would later drop the special circumstances charge which eliminated the chance of the death penalty.  In late April of 2015 Steve Noffsinger was taken to trial. After 5 days and 5 hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

In August of 2015 Steve Noffsinger filed a civil suit against TNT, the producers of Cold Justice, the investigators involved in Cold Justice as well as local law enforcement.  I have read the filing in which his claims were made and several good points were made.  As a society we have a tendency to not wait for a court decision before we pass judgement.  While our court system states a person is "innocent until proven guilty" we all know that in the court of public opinion that rarely happens.  When someone is arrested for a crime we automatically assume that the right person is charged and the more heinous the crime, the more we judge.  In this case I read several articles after Steve's arrest that proclaimed how many had known for years he was guilty of this crime and how they could not wait for his "sentence" and this was long before a trial.  Add to this the television show failed to show all the information they had on any other subjects or at least objectively and portrayed Steve Noffsinger as the murderer, not just long before his trial but even before his arrest.  In his civil suit he points out that there were 26 pieces of evidence taken in the original investigation that have been lost or destroyed, including the pieces of clothing taken from him that cleared him in 1982.  The suit makes note that there was more evidence to test in 1982 or technically "against" him then than there was in 2014 and yet he was charged.  The suit claims that the producers of the television show not only manipulated the situation and the evidence to make it appear he was guilty but they all but bullied the local law enforcement to get the indictment so that the episode would be aired.  One can hardly look at the timeline and argue against Noffsinger.

Presumably if you watch the episode you will see four possible suspects.... Noffsinger, David Delgado, his girlfriend Maria, and an unnamed subject who two law enforcement officers claim was parked outside Alma's home for a period of time around the murders.  There were claims that David and Alma had a very cordial relationship and even claims that Alma had attempted to reconcile with David not long prior to her murder.  The rumor (and remember this is a small town and they circulate fast, but not always untrue) was that Maria learned of this attempt and was very angry, hence her being investigated originally.   According to Noffsinger's suit Maria was not pursued passed a short interview despite failing a lie detector test.  He also claims that the unnamed subject was simply interviewed and asked about his where abouts and after claiming not to being in the area things were not pursued.  

I cannot tell you that Noffsinger is innocent or guilty of murdering Alma, but I cannot tell you any of the other suspects are innocent or guilty either.  What I can say is that it is strangely suspicious that with in less than two months of Cold Justice being on the scene and looking into things and deciding that Steve Noffsinger was guilty the county has an indictment on a 30 plus year murder. And, if we believe the law suit it was based on less evidence than there was in 1981. I could sit here and say that crimes such as murder are not and should not be entertainment and yet here I am writing on a blog about crime, so you will not hear that from me.  What you will hear is that entertainment has no room in justice for victims or in courtrooms.

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