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Death of Niles woman still an open case 20 years later

Jane Kleese, described by family members as a 35-year-old effervescent woman, was found dead at her Cynthia Street home in Niles on Jan. 23, 2002 — 20 years ago on Sunday.

At first, it was thought she died from a fall down the stairs. But later family members learned it was no accident, and the killer has gotten away with it for two decades.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins notes that the “case file is still open, and there’s a new generation of investigators there to work the case.”

Family members of the victim say the investigators are still looking for that one bit of information that will make the case against the killer.

“Several times we contacted police and investigators, but (authorities keep saying) they need more evidence,” Jane’s sister, Cheryl Bortz of Hubbard, said. “We are never going to give up on it as long as I am alive. We are waiting for justice for Jane.”

Bortz said there’s no doubt among her family members about who killed Jane.

“I am just trying to keep this case in the minds of people … someone in the family knows who did it … It’s not a secret … but everybody wants to know,” Bortz said.

In 2007, Janeás family paid for a billboard that was placed in a prominent place near the Eastwood Mall Complex off busy U.S. Route 422 in Niles.

Read more in Sunday’s Tribune Chronicle.

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