Tonight on Dateline NBC, correspondent Josh Mankiewicz reports on the 1985 murder of Meg Purk and subsequent arrest and trial of her husband Scott Purk over two decades later.
Meg Purk was nine months pregnant in 1985 when she died. Her death was ruled a suicide initially, according to the Record-Courier. The outlet reported that Scott Purk brought up his wife’s death to investigators in March 2009 when they responded to reports of a fire at his home, and that drew suspicion back to a closed case.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Purk called 911 in 1985, informing the operator that he found his wife hanging from a second-floor stairway railing. In 2015, Purk was convicted of murdering his wife after authorities exhumed her body and determined the cause of death was murder.
Purk Is Serving a Life Sentence in Prison
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) September 18, 2020
On November 17, 2015 Scott Purk, who was 53 at the time, was found guilty of the 1985 murder of his wife, according to Cleveland.com. He was sentenced to life in prison, and he was to be eligible for parole 18 years after the sentence.
Purk was already serving a 28-year sentence in prison for a 2010 arson conviction, Cleveland.com reported. That sentence is running consecutively with the life sentence, and Purk will be eligible for parole in 2057.
Prior to the sentence for the arson in 2010, Purk was sentenced to seven years in prison for a burglary conviction in 1986. According to Cleveland.com, he was known as the “Ninja Bandit” at that time.
He Is Currently at the Pickaway Correctional Institution
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) September 17, 2020
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Purk is currently at the Pickaway Correctional Institution. His offenses include attempted aggravated murder, aggravated arson, insurance fraud, disrupting a public service, murder and tampering with evidence.
Investigators believe that the 2009 fire was started by Purk for insurance money, according to the Akron Beacon-Journal. Police Lt. Ken Mifflin talked to Dr. Oz about the case after Purk’s arrest.
“The red flags, in this case, he had backed up his minivan with many different personal sentimental items,” Mifflin said on the Dr Oz show, according to meaww. “He had a cookbook that had been with the family for generations, why would you do that? It’s because you want to preserve those items, so when you move on with your life, they’re not destroyed in a fire. It was just pointed to more and more that this was an arson.”
After becoming suspicious of the arson, Mifflin asked to reopen Purk’s wife’s case, saying that it could have been murder since Purk brought up his dead wife whne Mifflin responded to the fire call.
“It’s like, ‘Why are you bringing this up while your house is burning down?'” the Record-Courier reported that Miffler said, adding later that it drew suspicion.
During the trial, the prosecution laid out what they believed happened to Meg Purk, as reported by Cleveland.com. The prosecutors said Purk was 24 years old when he killed his wife, strangling her with a belt while putting a knee on her back. Purk pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and tampering with evidence.
After the sentencing hearing, Cleveland.com reported that Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Jay Cole argued for a consecutive sentence rather than a concurrent one, saying that Pruk should stay behind bars.
“He needs to stay behind bars for the rest of his life,” Cole said. “Only then can we be sure we’re safe from his deeds.”
Purk’s first parole board hearing will take place in February 2050. His case has been examined on Forensic Files as well as on Dateline NBC.