CLEVELAND – The man accused of killing his future mother-in-law at their home on Blazing Star Drive in October 2017 pleaded no contest to aggravated murder and other counts the day his trial was scheduled to start Oct. 17.
Jeffrey Scullin Jr., 21, admitted responsibility for his role in the death of Melinda Pleskovic, 49. He also changed his plea on counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault, tampering with evidence, making false alarms and endangering children, the last two misdemeanor counts.
He will be sentenced Oct. 29 by Common Pleas Judge Pamela Barker; his minimum sentence will be life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years; he also could receive no chance for parole.
Scullin changed his plea the morning after the conclusion of a three-day pretrial hearing, with his attorneys wishing to throw out several pieces of evidence, including an alleged confession by Scullin to police just before his arrest; Barker denied the motions to suppress Oct. 16.
The defense also argued Strongsville Police unlawfully searched Scullin’s vehicle and cell phone after Pleskovic’s body was found in the kitchen of the home the evening of Oct. 23, 2017. In the vehicle was a knife that reportedly had Pleskovic’s blood on it in addition to Scullin’s DNA.
A revolver and sweatpants with blood stains were later found by police in the back seat of a different vehicle parked at the residence of Scullin’s parents a few days later, with the revolver in a backpack. The sweatpants reportedly had Scullin’s DNA and Pleskovic’s blood on them and the revolver matched the bullets used on Pleskovic.
A 911 call was made around 8 p.m. Oct. 23 by Melinda Pleskovic’s husband Bruce, 52. He had returned to the residence with Scullin and found his wife lying face down in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.
It was later determined she had been stabbed 36 times in the back and shot three times.
Melinda Pleskovic was supposed to have met her husband, Scullin and her daughter Anna Pleskovic, who was engaged to Scullin and had a child with him, for dinner at the Applebee’s at SouthPark Mall where Anna Pleskovic was employed.
They returned to the residence when Melinda Pleskovic hadn’t showed up. Scullin also lived there along with his fiancé and child.
Prosecutors said Oct. 17 Scullin killed Pleskovic in the late afternoon before going to Applebee’s.
At the residence when Pleskovic’s body was found was the couple’s 18-year-old son, who is developmentally disabled and nonverbal, court records show. Scullin’s attorneys argued in the motion to suppress that police requested warrants to search cars and phones belonging to Bruce Pleskovic and Scullin, but not the son.
Scullin had also called 911 after Bruce Pleskovic; in the call, he stated he took his child and the 18-year-old son outside.
In the months before Pleskovic’s death, police reported there were reports a laptop had been stolen from one of the family’s cars; that someone tried to break into the home on at least one occasion; and that the family had once caught an adult and two teenagers hiding behind their house. Before her death, Melinda Pleskovic also reported that, after a set of car keys went missing, she occasionally found her car unlocked or the alarm sounding at random.
The week before Pleskovic’s death, a report was filed stating an unknown man tried to enter the residence by forcing open the home’s rear sliding glass door, but the suspect then allegedly fled the area via an open field behind the home.
Strongsville Police reported Scullin reportedly was the one who had told the Pleskovics about incidents at the property.
“He made it seem as if there were a rash of burglaries in the area,” said Assistant Prosecutor Chris Schroeder after Scullin during the change of plea hearing.
Scullin was arrested about a week after Melinda Pleskovic’s death on Oct. 31, 2017 after taking a polygraph test; he had served as a pallbearer at Pleskovic’s Oct. 28, 2017 funeral, which was held the day he was supposed to marry Anna Pleskovic.
The day before the murder, it was found Scullin had not paid for the venue for his wedding to Anna Pleskovic due to his credit card was declined; it is believed Melinda Pleskovic was going to confront him about the issue when she was killed.
Melinda Pleskovic was a longtime Strongsville City Schools teacher, and had taught sixth-grade language arts at Strongsville Middle School at the time of her death.