Twinsburg murder victim Charlene Puffenbarger focus of 'Murder in the Heartland' episode




  • In US
  • 2022-12-01 14:30:06Z
  • By Akron Beacon Journal
Charlene Puffenbarger in her high school photo.
Charlene Puffenbarger in her high school photo.  

A 2022 episode of a true crime show takes a look at the murder of a Twinsburg woman.

An episode of "Murder in the Heartland" on the ID channel, focuses on Charlene Puffenbarger who was found bludgeoned and strangled at age 26 at her Twinsburg apartment Jan. 20, 1992. Her two- and three-year-old sons were inside the apartment on Ray Court at the time of killing and alerted neighbors when they were unable to awake their mother, police said at the time.

The father of the younger boy, Willard S. McCarley, was arrested in Arizona in 2004, where he had been vacationing with his wife. McCarley, a Ford plant worker from Northfield, was charged with aggravated murder.

He has been convicted of Puffenbarger's murder twice since 2004, where he was charged after DNA evidence suggested he held the belt used to strangle her. Both times, appeals courts ordered the case back to court because of trial errors. In 2017, McCarley maintained his innocence, but had been serving 11 years of a life sentence up until that time.

Summit County prosecutors accused McCarley of killing Puffenbarger to avoid paying child support for their son. Puffenbarger's mother Phyllis testified in 2017, that her daughter came to see her at her restaurant job distraught and distracted days before her death. Phyllis Puffenbarger learned Charlene had a fight with McCarley. "He [McCarley] said he would see her dead before he'd pay child support," Phyllis told the jury at the time.

McCarley was again sentenced to life in prison after the 2017 trial.

Ken Puffenbarger, brother of the slain Charlene Puffenbarger, sits next to his mother Phyllis Puffenbarger during a pretrial hearing before Judge Joy Oldfield on Tuesday, Jan.
Ken Puffenbarger, brother of the slain Charlene Puffenbarger, sits next to his mother Phyllis Puffenbarger during a pretrial hearing before Judge Joy Oldfield on Tuesday, Jan.  

When does the 'Murder in the Heartland' episode on Charlene Puffenbarger air?

The episode, named "Toddlers Terrible Tale" airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

Akron murder on true crime episode:Investigation Discovery episode focuses on 2018 murder of Akron woman Samantha Guthrie

What happened to Charlene Puffenbarger?

Below is the Akron Beacon Journal coverage of Puffenbarger's death and the subsequent arrest, charges and trials related to her murder.

May 14, 2004:May 14, 2004: Suspect arrested in 1992 murder

April 3, 2017:Willard McCarley to be tried for ex-girlfriend's murder for third time; appeals courts twice ordered

April 5, 2017:Testimony begins in Willard McCarley's third trial in the 1992 slaying of Charlene Puffenbarger

April 12, 2017:Summit County jury finds ex-boyfriend guilty of aggravated murder for third time in 25-year-old case

April 12, 2017:Willard McCarley Case Timeline

April 13, 2017:Son of murdered woman isn't sure if convicted man is killer; Willard McCarley again sentenced to life in prison

Archive staff reports from the Beacon Journal contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: ID episode focuses on 1992 murder of Charlene Puffenbarger

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