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11 Investigates: The Murder on Brown Road

A 15-year-old boy's murder in 1980 has never been solved. But its parallels to a serial killing spree around the same time period are raising new questions.

Brian Dugger

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In the early morning hours of May 10, 1980, John Hansen was driving down Brown Road in Jerusalem Township, headed to his job in North Toledo.

It was 6:25, five minutes after sunrise. A hunter, Hansen had trained himself to spot animals in the early daylight. He watched for deer running from the fields.

Today, Brown Road is dotted with houses. In 1980, Hansen and his wife lived on the road, but few others did. It was penned in by corn and soybean fields.

Heading west, Hansen made out a body lying on the side of the road, just before Lyon Road.

“One of our neighbors was autistic. I thought he may have been hit,” Hansen says.

But as he got closer, he could see that the young man was not his neighbor and that the boy had severe damage to the back of his head.

“I kind of rolled down my window and said, ‘You all right, buddy?’”

Mark DiStefano was not all right.

After Hansen returned home to call 911, responding deputies and Toledo officers discovered that the 15-year-old boy, who was known for his easy-going personality, had been shot twice in the back and three times in the head.

His pockets were turned out. Investigators initially believed he was a robbery victim. An early report said he was shot with a rifle, possibly a .22 caliber.

There were no witnesses. But there was no reason to believe that the violent crime was anything more than a young man being in the wrong place at the wrong time.