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Strongsville man accused of killing future fiancee’s mother rejects plea deal

October 12, 2018

Strongsville man accused of killing future fiancee’s mother rejects plea deal

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Strongsville man accused of fatally stabbing and shooting his fiancee’s mother in October 2017 rejected a plea bargain on Friday on the eve of his trial.

Jeffrey Scullin Jr., who is charged with aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, making false alarms and endangering children charges in the grisly slaying of 49-year-old Melinda Pleskovic, who police said had been stabbed 35 times and shot twice in the kitchen of her Blazing Star Drive home.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors offered Scullin the chance to plead guilty to aggravated murder with an extra three-year sentence because the killing involved the use of a gun, and a misdemeanor count of making false alarms.

MHe would have served a mandatory life-in-prison sentence. Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Barker would have then decided whether to give Scullin a shot at parole after 23, 28 or 33 years, or no shot at parole at all.

Scullin rejected the deal, and prosecutors and his defense lawyers were set to argue in court over whether prosecutors would be able to use the most damning evidence against Sculllin -- a knife with Pleskovic’s blood on the blade found in his truck and Scullin’s confession to police -- could be used as evidence at this trial.

Scullin, who had a history of disagreements with Pleskovic, attacked his would-be mother-in-law, then dined with her husband and daughter as the longtime elementary school teacher lay dead in their home, investigators said in court records.

He served a pallbearer at Pleskovic’s funeral five days after the killing, the same day that he was set to marry her daughter, according to a copy of a marriage certificate.

Scullin and Pleskovic’s husband, Bruce Pleskovic, each called 911 about 8 p.m., after they came home from dinner and found the veteran Strongsville teacher lying face-down in a large pool of blood in the kitchen of the family’s Blazing Star Drive home.

The two had just come from the Southpark Mall Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar restaurant where Pleskovic’s daughter, and Scullin’s future wife, waited tables, the record says.

Investigators obtained search warrants to seize clothing, cellphones, electronic devices and DNA samples from Pleskovic’s family at the scene, according to the filing. Detectives took evidence from Bruce Pleskovic and Scullin, but not from Pleskovic’s 18-year-old son, who was home at the time and has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and is non-verbal, or Scullin’s fiancee, records say.

They also searched three vehicles at the house, including a 2002 Chevy pickup registered to Scullin’s father that Scullin told investigators he often drove, the record says.

Detectives found the knife hidden beneath “miscellaneous items” on the backseat, and blood on the inside door handle of the passenger seat, records say.

Pleskovic was a sixth-grade teacher who spent 27 years in Strongsville City Schools. She was remembered as an educator with an unwavering passion for teaching, who also loved soccer. 

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