Dear Ohio State Parole Board:
I’m writing to express my outrage that Mark J. Sotka is being
considered for parole in the killing of Angel Ormston of Mentor-on-the-Lake.
The outrage isn’t directed at you. It’s not your fault that he’s
able to take advantage of a part of the law that allows this convicted killer
to begin to pursue parole after service of two-thirds of his sentence.
You’ve not been confronted with this case so far. So, please,
allow me to help make you aware of the facts of this crime, from the
perspective of an Ohioan who saw it unfold from another part of the state.
In August 1992, I was a young journalist working at The Morning
Journal in Lorain, my first job out of college.
Cleveland media shared the shocking news about this beautiful
young girl from Mentor High School a couple of days after she disappeared.
Soon, I began seeing her face on “MISSING” posters as I entered and exited the
Ohio Turnpike on shopping trips to Parmatown Mall.
Later, that smiling face beamed back from a milk carton, again
with the word “MISSING.”
Four and a half months later, hunters found her decomposing body
lying in a ditch in Perry Township. She was wrapped in a bed sheet when
discovered, and it took investigators awhile to determine the cause of her
death because of the advanced decomposition of the body.
Angel was 17 years old when she was killed by two stab wounds to
the heart and one to her side. She was bound at the ankles and chest by duct
tape and the sheet.
Her friends said she was carrying on an affair with Sotka, whom
they say killed her when she disclosed that she was pregnant.
Sotka was caught and later confessed because of dogged police work
the likes of which we see today on “CSI.”
A roll of duct tape, a few carpet fibers and a little bit of blood
on a baseboard in a home in which he no longer lived put him behind bars.
Mentor Police, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and the Lake County
Prosecutor’s Office never gave up as Sotka sat at home or in his college dorm
and lived it up while the residents of Mentor and Mentor-on-the-Lake cowered in
fear as the hunt for one of their daughters dragged on endlessly.
He tossed her out like trash after he wooed her with empty
promises of a future.
Then, in a final cowardly act, he took a deal guaranteed to save
him from sitting on Ohio’s Death Row and paying the ultimate price for his
At Sotka’s sentencing in February 1993, John Ormston laid bare his
family’s pain and sorrow for the lost promise of his gorgeous daughter:
“Do you realize what you’ve done? Do you have any idea what you’ve
done to us? She loved you. She talked about you all the time. That’s all she
talked about was Mark, and you killed her. You had a chance to save her and you
killed her instead. And now, while your parents can visit you in prison, you
know what we get to do?
Visit our daughter’s grave. Seventeen years old. So
full of live. You stabbed her in the heart. She does anything for anybody, and
you killed her for that.
“You have no remorse. Here you killed her and you left her to rot.
I’d like to show you the pictures of her of how we found her. I can’t even bear
to look at them.
“How dare you. Look at you. Twenty years old and you’ve already
killed? You make me sick. That’s all I can say.”
And now, 20 years later, Sotka has asked to come before you to
plead for his release from prison.
I ask you to send him back to his cell.
It’s too soon for Angel’s parents to know he’s walking freely
among them. It’s too soon for her friends to be confronted by the fact that the
one who stole their innocence is allowed back into a free society.
Then-Lake County Common Pleas Judge Paul Mitrovich sent Sotka away
for 30 years to life.
I ask that you take into account the facts of Sotka’s crime and
honor that sentence. He stole the promise of a beautiful young girl that day in
Mentor. He shouldn’t now be awarded the freedom to pursue the dreams she never
had the chance to attain.
Laura A. Kessel
Editor's note: Ormston's family is asking concerned citizens to sign their petition at change.org or send a letter stating why Sotka should not be granted parole to firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, June 1, 2013, so they can submit it with the petition to the parole board.