Arkon Beacon-Journal

Posted on Fri, Dec. 20, 2002

Assault claims no longer believed

Investigators don't buy story that ex-boyfriend had woman attacked

By Ed Meyer
Beacon Journal staff writer
Arkon (Ohio) Beacon Journal

Summit County sheriff's investigators no longer believe the story of a Green woman who claimed someone tried to kill her in her home.

The woman, 34-year-old Jennifer Hutzler, supposedly was found in her Mars Road home on the night of Aug. 19 by a handyman, who called 911.

The handyman said he found Hutzler on the basement floor, bleeding and unconscious, with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck, according to sheriff's department records.

It was initially investigated as an attempted murder.

The next day, Hutzler obtained a temporary protection order against her ex-boyfriend, 44-year-old George Vukovich of Akron, claiming he planned the attack.

Hutzler claimed he ``sent someone to my home to shut me up and scare me,'' according to court records.

However, after lengthy follow-up interviews with Hutzler and the handyman, 42-year-old Lou J. Dalessio of Akron, sheriff's investigators now think Hutzler made up the story.

``There's nothing there to substantiate that this actually happened,'' Sheriff's Capt. Larry Momchilov said.

Momchilov said detectives also did detailed interviews with Vukovich, the former owner of Mr. Magoo's Pub, a South Main Street topless bar that was closed after a fire in August 2000.

But detectives could not find any evidence that Vukovich planned the attack, Momchilov said.

Why would Hutzler make up the story?

Momchilov said detectives have a theory but no conclusive evidence to prove it.

Hutzler and Vukovich, according to records in Summit County Domestic Relations Court, have been involved in a shared-parenting battle over their 7-year-old daughter since 1999.

``That's a possibility -- that she said he did this so we would arrest him and she would get the child,'' Momchilov said.

The child, according to the shared-parenting agreement, splits time between the homes of her parents, who are scheduled to go to court again Feb. 14 in another attempt to resolve their dispute.

Hutzler, meanwhile, has obtained a civil protection order against Vukovich in which the court ordered him not to come within 100 yards of her.

Hutzler's lawyer, Donald E. Lombardi of Akron, readily admits the case is ``a real can of worms.'' But he disputes the police theory that Hutzler made up the story.

``All I know is this girl had a broken femur, so somebody must have jumped her,'' Lombardi said.

He said he has records from Akron City Hospital, showing Hutzler was treated in the emergency room for a fracture high in her left femur on the night of the incident at her home.

Hutzler was unable to identify her attacker but claimed Vukovich must have planned it, Lombardi said, because of the timing of one of their court battles.

Vukovich had tried to get the Ohio Supreme Court to hold a hearing on the custody case, according to court records, but his request was denied.

The Supreme Court denial was filed with the Summit County Clerk of Courts on July 23 -- a little more than three weeks before Hutzler was injured.

``She thought that was relevant,'' Lombardi said. ``Nothing like that had happened since the whole thing started in 1999, then a few weeks later, bang, this happens.''

Vukovich, who represents himself in the custody battle, denied any involvement in the incident at Hutzler's home.

He said his sole motivation in the case is to gain full custody of his daughter because Hutzler had lied repeatedly in previous hearings in Domestic Relations Court.

Momchilov said the sheriff's department does not want to get caught in the middle of the domestic case but is discussing the possibility of filing false-statement charges against Hutzler.


Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or emeyer@thebeaconjournal.com