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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Family seeks help finding victim's killer


Relatives of Jennifer Shively made a tearful plea yesterday in East Toledo for information about the slaying of the young mother of five.

“It's tearing us up. It's hurting us,” said Raymond Smith, 28, of Moline, the younger of her two brothers, choking up with tears. “It's not like she just died. Somebody took her.”

The body of the 26-year-old woman was found Aug. 19 in Lamberjack's Marina in Ottawa County. Autopsy results showed Ms. Shively died of strangulation.

“The children are taking it [especially] hard,” said Esther Swope, the victim's mother. “If you know anything, please come forward.”

Ms. Shively's children range in age from 1 to 9 and are living with family members.

“They don't know how to take it, really,” Mr. Smith said. “They just know that she is gone and that she's not coming back.”

Authorities had investigated a report that Ms. Shively celebrated her birthday Aug. 14 at Wild Wings Restaurant and Lounge in Oak Harbor, about a mile from where her body was found.

Brothers Gerald, left, and Raymond Smith, don T-shirts in memory of their slain sister, Jennifer Shively, during yesterday's news conference at the home of Esther Swope, the victim's mother. Brothers Gerald, left, and Raymond Smith, don T-shirts in memory of their slain sister, Jennifer Shively, during yesterday's news conference at the home of Esther Swope, the victim's mother.

Authorities could not confirm that's where the celebration occurred, but believe she was at a party at a house near the bar, said Ottawa County Sheriff Robert Bratton, who was at the news conference at the Swope home.

Toledo police Detective Jeff Clark said investigators have talked to more than a dozen people in Ottawa County and Toledo and have developed some leads. Detective Clark said he would not discuss them, citing the ongoing investigation.

When growing up, she liked to play basketball and enjoyed being a cheerleader at Franklin Elementary School. She didn't graduate from high school, her brother said.

“She was a good person; she had problems in the past, everybody does,” Mr. Smith said.

Ms. Shively was dead before she was weighted by two concrete blocks and dumped in the water at the marina. Her arms were bound behind her, and her feet were tied together.

“The people who did this are sick, and they need help themselves,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith and his 30-year-old brother, Gerald, were wearing T-shirts featuring photos of them with their sister. Gerald Smith is on leave from the U.S. Army and is scheduled to return to Germany tomorrow.

Detective Clark asked anyone with information to call the Crime Stopper Program at 419-255-1111.

Callers may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.

“We've lost a loved one, and it's torn the whole family up,” Raymond Smith said. “Whoever did that needs to be brought to justice.”

The visitation was closed-casket yesterday at Freck Funeral Chapel, 1155 South Wynn Rd., Oregon, where the funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. today.

Ms. Shively is survived by her mother, Esther; stepfather, David Swope; her two brothers; grandmother, Winnie Shively, and children, Ciara, Domanick, Ciana, Elijha, and Amaya.

“We are seeking closure,” Raymond Smith said. “We are asking, please, just for the kids' sake, come forward and help us out with this.”

Contact Mike Sigov at:sigov@theblade.comor 419-724-6089.

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