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Charles A. McCOY Jr.






A.K.A.: "The Highway Shooter" - "The Ohio Sniper"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Serial shooter (23 shootings in 2003 and 2004)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 25, 2003
Date of arrest: March 17, 2004
Date of birth: 1976
Victim profile: Gail Knisley, 62
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to 27 years in prison on August 8, 2005
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Admitted Serial Shooter Apologizes To Ohio Victims

August 10, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Admitted highway shooter Charles A. McCoy Jr. dropped an insanity defense and pleaded guilty to manslaughter and 10 other charges Tuesday in a series of shootings that took place in 2003 and 2004.

Judge Charles Schneider sentenced McCoy to 27 years in prison.

The plea helped McCoy, 29, avoid a second trial following his mistrial due to a hung jury in May. Dropping his insanity plea ensured McCoy escapes the death penalty, which he faced in his first trial, reported Columbus TV station WCMH.

A tearful McCoy broke down while reading an apology to the families of Gail Knisley and Mary Cox. The two were riding in a car along Interstate 270 on Nov. 25, 2003, when Knisley, 62, was struck and killed by a bullet fired by McCoy.

"First, I would like to say Iím sorry to the Knisley family (and) for the loss I caused them," McCoy said. "I'm sorry to Mrs. Cox. When I heard that 911 tape, I felt the pain they suffered."

McCoy broke down in tears and could not finish his handwritten statement. Defense attorney Drew Haney read the remainder of McCoy's message.

"I'm sorry to the others and their families who I shot at and almost hit," the message read. "I would also like to apologize to the community for the fear that I caused during this time. I wish I could take back what happened. I can't, and I'm sorry for causing the Knisley family to lose a wife, mother and friend. I hope in the future, people can learn from my illness and my mistake of fighting treatment to hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening."

McCoy spoke in an interview after the hearing about his sentence.

"It's pretty scary," McCoy said. "I guess it's the best alternative I have. From my attorneys, I've learned that (because of) my actions, it'd be kind of like if I went to a mental hospital, I'd have to stay there for either a really long time or I wouldn't get out at all for fear that something like this may happen again."

Knisley's husband, Ronnie Knisley, said he is trying to move on.

"Just ask yourself, if it was your mother, father, daughter, husband or son, would you be happy with what happened? You just have to accept it and move on," Ronnie Knisley said.

After the sentencing, a tearful Cox said she'd never forget her best friend, Gail Knisley.

"I did feel like he was trying to think of everything he's done to everybody," Cox said. "I lost my best friend and I just can't forget her. She was everything to me."

The shootings took place over five months in 2003 and 2004, and killed the only person who was struck by one of his bullets.

Schneider, who presided over McCoy's first trial, read the charges aloud to McCoy in court on Tuesday and asked whether McCoy understood the plea.

McCoy answered, "Yes, your honor," when Schneider went through the charges.

The defense, prosecution and Schneider all believe McCoy suffers from schizophrenia,WCMH reported.

"I hope that people can understand that Charles is a young man that did not sign up to have this illness," said McCoy's defense attorney Drew Haney before Tuesday's hearing. "It's something you don't pick it. It picks you."

"I have an additional duty, or a primary duty, of making sure Mr. McCoy understands the agreement," Schneider said.

The agreement not only avoided a new trial scheduled for September, it also gives prosecutors some control over how much time McCoy would serve, the station reported.

"What we try to do in a case like this is have it be such that there's a bit of control over the length and where and you can't control it by not guilty by reason of insanity," said Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien before Tuesday's hearing.

McCoy would likely be sentenced to a prison that has a mental health wing, possibly the state prison in Lima.


The Ohio Sniper - Charles A McCoy Jr.

23 shootings left one woman dead

May 10:
A 37-year-old woman runs out of gas around 4 a.m. in the westbound lanes of I-270 east of I-71. After walking for help, she returns to find the car's windshield shot out and the hood damaged.

Aug. 31:
A 41-year-old woman from Akron finds a bullet hole in the back of her horse trailer hours after driving on eastbound I-270.

Oct. 10:
A woman driving north on U.S. 23 north of I-270 had a flat tire. She didn't know the tire had been shot until she took the flat to be repaired.

Oct. 11:
A 36-year-old man was driving about noon along I-270 when a bullet struck the rear side panel of his Nissan Sentra and exited through the rear window, shattering it.

Oct. 19:
Truck driver William Briggs, 56, of Hilliard, turned north onto westbound I-270 off of U.S. 23 at about 11:30 p.m. and had driven about a mile when the driver's side window exploded.

Nov. 11:
A bullet breaks a window at 1:35 a.m. at Hamilton Central Elementary in Obetz, about 3/4 of a mile from the freeway.

Nov. 15:
A passer-by notices a bullet hole in a van parked at a used car lot on U.S. 23, just over a mile north of I-270.

Nov. 17:
A United Parcel Service truck was eastbound on I-270 around 11 a.m. between Parsons Avenue and U.S. 23 when the driver reported hearing a noise. A bullet hole was found in the door behind the driver's seat.

Nov. 18:
A woman is driving a Ford Explorer around 9:30 p.m. on U.S. 23, north of Rathmell Road when a bullet strikes the driver's side door.

Nov. 21:
Edward Cable, 53, a retired prison guard from Lucasville, reports bullet fired into his minivan about 7:40 p.m. on U.S. 23 south of Rathmell, 1.5 miles from I-270.

Nov. 25:
Gail Knisley, 62, of Washington Court House, is killed about 10 a.m. on I-270 near I-71 when a bullet rips through the driver's door of the Pontiac Grand Am driven by a friend.

Four hours later, near the same spot, a GMC Jimmy driven by a 26-year-old man from Orient, just south of Columbus, is struck near the left rear fender.

A tractor-trailer driver for Coca-Cola Co. reports finding a hole in the rear door of the trailer after making deliveries along I-270 between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 30:
Phylis Cramer said she was driving on I-270 eastbound between I-71 and U.S. 23 when she heard a thud sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. She noticed a bullet hole when she arrived home.

Nov. 30-Dec. 1:
Emma Fader reported that between 11 p.m. Nov. 30 and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1 someone shot the front of her house at 1798 Lisle Ave. near I-270. She found a bullet hole in her living room floor.

Dec. 15:
Ronald Edwards, 48, heard three shots about 12:30 a.m. at his house on 901 Brown Road, about two miles north of I-270. A bullet was found in a bathtub, and two bullet holes are found in the front of the house.

Dec. 15-17:
A South-Western city school bus was shot on Brown Road near Ransburg Avenue at about 4:20 p.m.

Dec. 17:
A second South-Western bus was shot about 7 a.m.

Jan. 11:
A man reported a bullet struck the hood of his car about 2:15 a.m. while driving on the stretch of I-270. Bullet fragments were found in the hood, and the car's windshield was cracked.

Jan. 22:
Michael Thomas, 30, reported that a shot that cracked his windshield about 12:45 a.m. on I-71 came from a highway overpass. He said he saw a person standing in the shadows in front of a parked car on the overpass.

Feb. 3:
A bullet pierced the windshield of a van about 2:10 p.m. while traveling on I-71 about 15 miles south of I-270. A bullet fragment from the dashboard was a ballistic match.

Feb. 8:
A van and a Mercedes were shot within minutes about a mile apart from overpasses on Interstate 71 in Jeffersonville, about 40 miles south of Columbus. Douglas Berry, the driver of the Mercedes, described the gunman as a middle-aged white male, with a medium build. Another motorist described seeing a black sports car on an overpass when the shootings happened about 11:30 a.m.



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