Westerville News & Public Opinion

Murder is first in Blendon Township since 1991

16-year-old suspect is a Westerville Central student and may be charged as an adult

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

A Blendon Township woman was murdered Sunday in a seemingly random act as she jogged through a township park, township police reported.

Jane E. Juergens, 55, was found by Blendon Township police just after 7 p.m. Oct. 20 on the main trail through Ridgewood Park, on Buenos Aires Boulevard near state Route 161. Police said Juergens had been stabbed multiple times.

Shortly after Juergens' body was recovered, police arrested 16-year-old Jordan T. Stewart, a resident of a nearby group home in the Huber Ridge housing subdivision, at 5548 Copenhagen Drive.

Stewart has been enrolled as a student at Westerville Central High School since the spring, said Westerville City School District spokesman Greg Viebranz.

There seemed to be no connection between Juergens and Stewart, authorities said.

Police would not say what led them to Juergens' body or Stewart at the request of the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, said Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we're still not ready to release some of the details," Belford said.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday, Oct. 22, that a manager of the group home called police to report Stewart was acting strangely shortly after returning from a supervised visit to the park with other group home residents Sunday afternoon.

A police report on the case was not immediately made available by police.

Stewart was charged with a delinquency count of murder through juvenile court, and the prosecutor's office has filed a request to try Stewart as an adult. A probable cause hearing is set for Oct. 29.

Juergens' murder was the first in Blendon Township since 1991, and it sent a wave of shock through the township, Belford said.

"A tragedy like this cannot have anything but a chilling effect on a community," Belford said. "We don't like to think these violent acts can happen in our neighborhood, but the truth is these things can happen anywhere."

Belford said the crime serves as a reminder that people should exercise caution in any circumstance, should remain aware and vigilant and be quick to report any suspicious actions to police.

"We always urge people to be cautious, no matter where they are," he said.

Juergens, the mother of two adult sons, was a longtime human resources executive with American Municipal Power and left AMP this year to start her own consulting business, The Dispatch reported.

No funeral arrangements had been announced as of Tuesday evening.

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