Possible serial killer lived strange life here - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Possible serial killer lived strange life here

February 27th, 2020 development
Possible serial killer lived strange life here

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

The residents of Maplewood Street in central Chandler looked out their windows to find a suspicious man standing in their neighbor’s driveway.

He seemed dazed, confused and possibly in need of medical attention. It was March 19, 2016 – two days after the suspicious man was reported missing from a nearby group home specializing in behavioral health.

Chandler Police was notified and officers later found the man wandering near Willis Road and Karen Drive. Before he was transported to the hospital, the man was identified as Samuel W. Legg III.

His caretakers at the group home were notified Legg had been found. They advised Chandler Police that Legg’s psychological condition appeared to be “worsening” and that he may have to be transferred to another facility.

Over the next three years, Chandler Police received several more calls about Legg going missing in the city.

The incidents followed a similar pattern; the group home reported him missing, he’d be found somewhere in Chandler and officers returned him to the home.

But the last call Chandler Police got about Legg was notably different.

Authorities in Ohio wanted to question him in connection with several unsolved murder and rape investigations.

Aside from a few petty crimes, Legg’s criminal history hardly fingered him as the likely suspect for a series of heinous felonies.

Warrants were filed authorizing Chandler detectives to extract blood samples from Legg for DNA testing – the results of which prompted officials in Ohio to label the 50-year-old a possible serial killer.

In February 2019, Legg was extradited to Ohio and indicted for raping a 17-year-old girl in 1997. He was then charged with the 1992 murder of 43-year-old Sharon Kezierski, who was found beaten to death behind a truck stop near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

Authorities in Ohio have said Legg is suspected in three other murders – one of them involving Legg’s teenage stepdaughter.

Since his arrest last year, Legg has not been charged with any more crimes and has yet to stand trial for the others. Judges in Ohio have declared him mentally incompetent to appear before a jury and gave prosecutors until this summer to restore the defendant’s health.

Public records paint a tumultuous picture of Legg’s journey from the Midwest to Arizona.

He changed jobs frequently, got married and divorced and repeatedly moved around until a court order placed him in a Chandler group home sometime after 2015.

Despite numerous run-ins with law enforcement over the last 30 years, he was not charged with any violent crimes until 2019.

He was able to go unnoticed for decades since his DNA profile had never been entered into any type of national database.

If it was not for new advancements in DNA analysis, Legg would likely still be living in Chandler.

Through interviews and police records, the SanTan Sun News pieced together his journey to Chandler and the legal troubles he now confronts.

An Ohio missing person case

Nancy Somogyi was introduced to Samuel Legg in the late 1980s through a friend. After a couple months of dating, the two were married.

The relationship started off fine before Somogyi began noticing some strange behavior in her husband.

Somogyi recalled Legg having a habit of lying – like telling her he was much older than his actual age – but the new wife tried to look past this character flaw.

But Somogyi’s teenage daughter, Angela Hicks, couldn’t look past Legg’s flaws and never accepted him as her new stepfather.

Somogyi said her daughter and Legg felt like they had to compete for her attention – fueling a jealousy that made their home life in Ohio unbearable.

“It wasn’t really good anymore,” the mother said.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Hicks went missing during the summer of 1990.

Legg told authorities the 14-year-old cheerleader left home alone while Somogyi was at work and never returned.

Investigators thought Hicks might have run away, but her friends quickly disputed this theory after noticing all of the teenager’s shoes had not left the family’s apartment.

A month later, Mormon missionaries found Hicks’ body in the woods near a dilapidated barn.

Local authorities always suspected Legg had some involvement in his stepdaughter’s death, yet they couldn’t obtain enough evidence to make an arrest.

Somogyi said she too had suspicions about her husband, but despaired at the thought she was married to her daughter’s killer.   

“You don’t want to think that you brought someone into the house like that,” Somogyi said.

The couple’s marriage deteriorated about a year after Hicks’ death. Somogyi said Legg would lash out with anger whenever she questioned him about her daughter’s murder.

After they split in 1991, Somogyi said she never had contact with Legg again. She later moved to Texas and tried moving on with her life – though never quite avoiding a feeling of guilt for what happened to Hicks.

“You’re supposed to be there to protect your children,” the mother said.

New troubles in Tucson

A resume purportedly written by Legg suggests he worked in Michigan for a few years before relocating to southern Arizona in the late 1990s.

He drove trucks, repaired vehicles and briefly owned a landscaping business in Sierra Vista. Court records show Legg remarried in 2006 and divorced two years later.

The Tucson Police Department busted Legg for duplicating license plates in 2001 and again the following year for trying to solicit a prostitute.

He appeared to stay out of trouble until 2015, when he was arrested for trespassing after he attempted to get into a stranger’s car outside a McDonald’s restaurant.

Police reports show Legg’s mental state appeared to worsen in the following months after officers repeatedly found him wandering in the desert.

During one encounter with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department in August 2015, Legg was found walking along a dirt road, dehydrated and badly sunburned.

Deputies noted how Legg appeared manic and constantly rambled to himself.

“He seemed confused and was walking towards the middle of nowhere,” a deputy wrote in a report.

Legg told deputies he was walking to a restaurant so he could meet up with a relative. The deputy instructed Legg to call his relative. Legg complied by talking into his hand – as if he was holding a cell phone.

The Sheriff’s Department took Legg into custody on an outstanding warrant. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor trespassing charge and a Tucson judge sentenced Legg to one year of probation.

Because the offense was so minor, Legg would not have been obligated to provide DNA samples that could have been entered into law enforcement databases.

Police reports indicate one condition of Legg’s sentencing was that he underwent court-mandated mental health treatment.

If a defendant appears to be a danger to themselves or others, Arizona law allows judges to commit them to a psychiatric hospital or group home.

The length of their treatment is supposed to be limited and can only be lengthened by re-petitioning the court.

The Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix is reserved for the psychiatric patients with the most severe symptoms. Those with a milder condition are typically referred to less restrictive settings like neighborhood group homes.

Settling in Chandler
group home

Legg was assigned a caseworker through Community Bridges and moved up to Jussamal Manor II, a group home located near Alma School and Pecos roads.

Not long after he arrived, Legg made his first escape.

An employee of Jussamal Manor reported Legg missing in March 2016 after finding his bedroom empty and belongings missing.

It appeared Legg had climbed out his bedroom window during a time when caretakers thought he was napping. They suspected Legg might try to hitch a ride to Tucson.

A trash bag containing Legg’s clothes and identification were discovered two days later near Chandler Heights and Alma School roads. Not long after that, the residents on Maplewood Street spotted Legg strolling around their neighborhood.

Within a week of being returned to the group home, Legg escaped again by hopping the back fence while a caretaker was using the restroom. Chandler Police quickly captured him near the Loop 202 freeway.

In February 2017, Legg wandered off again during an afternoon church service at Chandler First Assembly of God on Ray Road.

Chandler Police responded by circulating Legg’s picture in the media, advising the public the missing man suffered from schizophrenia.

Officers in Tempe found him a couple days later walking near McClintock and Warner roads. Legg looked disheveled, tired, and was fed some pizza by the officers.

One month later, the Arizona Department of Health Services inspected Legg’s group home and cited the facility for leaving doors unlocked and jeopardizing the safety of residents.

“The surveyor observed residents walking around the premises without restrictions,” an inspector wrote in a report.

Samuel Marira, manager of Jussamal Manor, said privacy laws prohibited him from discussing Legg’s stay at his group home. But he indicated staff followed regular rules and procedures each time Legg went missing.

Police reports show Legg disappeared at least three more times before his arrest in 2019.

The last incident took place on Oct. 17, 2018. Legg slipped out a bedroom window during the night and was discovered missing the following morning.

Staff told Chandler Police that Legg was acting delusional, asking for items he already had in his possession.

“Samuel was reported as being cooperative and not having any problems with workers of the group home,” officers wrote in a report, “but does become confused and feels strongly he needs to get to Tucson.”

Phoenix Police located Legg two days later 12 miles west of the group home in an Ahwatukee neighborhood.

The dots get connected

The dots finally started to connect as more data was getting logged.

Investigators in Ohio noticed the national DNA database was finding commonalities among evidence recovered from three different homicides.

The matches identified one person as committing the crimes, yet the suspect’s profile didn’t connect to any existing DNA on file.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations employed a new tool that searches the database and looks for any of the suspect’s family members. The query picked out a convict, later identified as Legg’s brother.

Though the Bureau still didn’t have Legg’s DNA to compare to the profile pulled from the unsolved crimes. Investigators did some research and found out Legg had been questioned for raping a teenage girl in 1997.

A rape kit completed for the case had preserved the perpetrator’s DNA, which authorities claim linked back to Legg. The match allowed authorities to extradite Legg out of Arizona and back to the Midwest.

Steve Irwin, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the agency has been in contact with other states to see if Legg’s DNA might match to other unsolved crimes.

Despite the fact no new charges have been filed within the last year, Irwin said Legg is still considered a suspect in other crimes and could potentially be charged at some point.

The Elyria Police Department, which investigated the death of Angela Hicks, said it has submitted its case to local prosecutors and is awaiting a charging decision.