A Springfield Township man who once put up signs in his yard as a protest against a sex offender next door was shot and killed Thursday morning.
Police arrested his longtime girlfriend and charged her with murder.
James Z. Cody, 55, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds when Springfield officers and Summit County sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported shooting shortly after 6 a.m. at Cody’s home in the 1500 block of Gregory Drive.
The ranch home is situated along a short, narrow, dead-end street off Massillon Road, with tall, sprawling pine trees in the front and side yards and a small garden off the driveway.
Springfield Police Sgt. Eric East said Cody’s girlfriend, Sharon Hall, 50, was standing in the driveway when officers arrived.
Hall was charged with murder in what East described as a domestic dispute that did not appear to be related in any way to Cody’s long-running dispute with the neighbor.
East said Hall used a semiautomatic handgun and shot Cody multiple times in the upper torso.
Hall then called 911 at 6:06 a.m., according to the Summit County sheriff’s dispatch call center. The cell phone call, which lasted one minute, 48 seconds, began with Hall breathing heavily.
“I need a sheriff’s car,” she said at the outset.
When the dispatcher asked what happened, she replied: “I shot someone. I need you to come.”
She then gave her name, and when the dispatcher followed up by asking her who she shot, Hall said, “Jim Cody.”
She then began crying to the point the dispatcher was unable to understand her.
“Just come,” Hall said a second before the call ended.
East said Hall gave no statements to responding officers about the circumstances of the domestic incident, nor did she do so when she was taken to the nearby Springfield police station.
John Juergensen, a Hall family attorney from North Canton, was at the station late Thursday morning and spoke to her. He said she plans to secure a criminal attorney, and he declined further comment.
East said officers found Cody’s body in the basement, which was a living area for the couple.
There were no previous police calls related to domestic incidents at the home, East said, but there were responses to calls several years ago about the dispute with the convicted sex offender, he said.
As of Thursday afternoon, investigators were trying to piece things together and had no clear understanding why the fatal shooting occurred, East said.
There are only a few isolated homes on each side of Gregory Drive. No neighbors could be reached to answer questions in the hours after the shooting.
Cody and Hall made headlines in 2007 when they placed large signs in their yard warning neighbors of Michael Harig, a convicted sex offender who lived next door to the couple.
Multiple police reports and lawsuits, including one against the Akron Beacon Journal, were filed by Cody and Hall.
Harig contended Cody’s actions went beyond the signs, and later in 2007, Cody was convicted of stalking Harig and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. A jury acquitted him of charges of violating a protection order, aggravated menacing and resisting arrest.
Hall also was charged that year with criminal trespassing for entering Harig’s home, but the case was dropped. Prosecutors said she then tried to bring peace to the dispute.
Prosecutors said Cody engaged in a personal crusade against Harig, then 45, who spent nearly a year in prison after he was convicted in 2003 of fondling three boys — ages 12, 13 and 14. Harig is registered as a sexually oriented offender.
East said Harig moved from the residence about two months ago, and his uncle, James Harig, confirmed that Thursday.