STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- A judge on Monday sentenced Jeffrey Scullin Jr., 21, to life in prison for the murder of his fiance’s mother, a beloved Strongsville teacher.
Scullin pleaded no contest to several charges including aggravated murder, murder and tampering with evidence in the October 2017 murder of Melinda Pleskovic, 49.
Scullin will be eligible for parole after 33 years.
Scullin shot Pleskovic three times and stabbed her more than 35 times on Oct. 23, 2017. He then went to dinner with her husband, Bruce, before returning to the crime scene. The murder happened five days before he was to marry Pleskovic's daughter, Anna.
“Jeffrey Scullin should never be allowed to walk free again,” Anna Pleskovic said in court. “He is a manipulator, a pathological liar, a thief, a sociopath and above all a sadistic murderer. He shows no remorse and deserves to spend his days away from the innocent.”
Scullin declined to apologize in court, and the judge noted he has shown no remorse for the crime.
“Jeff's continuation of maintaining his innocence doesn't allow our family to heal and receive closure,” Bruce Pleskovic told the judge. “The week after Melinda was killed through his time of arrest, he calmly Carried on as if nothing of significance seemed to have happened. He even wanted us to put apps on our cell phones so he knew where we all were. I find that a bit scary.”
Police said Scullin confessed to killing Pleskovic and even told them where they could find the murder weapons, a gun and a knife, and consented to the search of the vehicles where they could be found. His bloody clothes were also found in one of the vehicles. Prosecutors said cell phone records placed Scullin at the home at the time of the murder.
“There is overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt,” Assistant County Prosecutor Andrew Santoli said.
In a motion to suppress hearing, Scullin's attorney, Joseph Patituce, argued that the confession was coerced and should be inadmissible during a trial. Judge Pamela Barker ruled it would be allowed, prompting Scullin to plead no contest on the eve of the trial. Patituce has said Scullin plans to appeal.
Prosecutors said Scullin showed prior calculation of the crime and staged burglaries and attempted break-ins at the home before the murder.
“My mom cared for him as a part of our family and bent over backwards for him, yet he took her life in one of the most violent ways imaginable,” Megan Pleskovic said. “He manipulated my entire family into thinking he could be trusted all while he stole from us and plotted the unthinkable.”
The murder happened while Pleskovic's 18-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, and Scullin and Anna Pleskovic’s baby daughter, were in the house.
Prosecutors said Scullin has not revealed a motive; however, Scullin's credit card was declined 14 times by his wedding venue in the weeks leading up to the event.
The venue, which then decided to cancel the wedding, eventually contacted Pleskovic about the matter, and prosecutors said she was planning to confront Scullin about it that weekend.
“He has not indicated a motive, but we speculate as to the situation that occurred,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley. “Given the tragedy that this family has suffered, I don't know that whatever excuse he comes up with for his barbaric actions will ever suffice.”
The Pleskovic family said they feel the sentence brings justice and closure for the family.
“I’m glad that monster is going away,” Anna Pleskovic said.