On March 2, 2012, 19-year-old Jacob “Jake” Limberios was fatally shot in the head in the presence of three friends. The coroner ruled his death a suicide — but Jake’s parents, Mike and Shannon, say it doesn’t add up. They claim there was no investigation into Jake’s death, no evidence collected and no autopsy performed before Jake’s death was ruled a suicide — and they refuse to believe their son would take his own life. Jake’s family say a lot of questions remain unanswered, including: Who fired the shot? Two witnesses, Brittany and Will, adamantly maintain that Jake accidentally shot himself, but Mike and Shannon say their son knew how to handle guns safely and that the evidence doesn’t support that conclusion. Mike takes Dr. Phil
cameras to the scene of the shooting to demonstrate why he believes that Jake was shot by someone else in the room. And, Brittany and Will face Mike and Shannon on Dr. Phil’s stage, frustrated by the cloud of suspicion that they say still follows them as a result of Mike and Shannon’s allegations. When offered a chance to take a polygraph test, will they accept? Don’t miss this compelling two-part mystery.
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A Tragic Loss; A Search for Answers
“My son, Jake, was found dead with a bullet through his head. The coroner deemed it as a suicide, but I don’t believe it,” Mike says. On March 2, 2012, Mike says his son went to his friend, Brittany’s, house with a loaded 357 Magnum revolver. After taking turns shooting the gun in the backyard, he and three others — Brittany, Will and Evan — went back inside. That’s when tragedy struck. “The kids claim that Jake put the gun up to his head and pulled the trigger,” Mike says. “The coroner never came to the scene that night. The sheriffs make a ruling of suicide before they even take the kids in for written statements. Things just did not add up. I know my son. He would not commit suicide.”
Mike and his wife, Shannon, say they still have so many unanswered questions.
Mike and Shannon search for answers. “It never dawned on us it would be labeled a suicide.”
Mike and Shannon tell Dr. Phil that they don’t think there were any malicious actions that night — they know it was an accidental shooting — but they just don’t believe their son pulled the trigger.
“Is it possible that he shot himself accidentally?” Dr. Phil asks.
“I’m sure that it’s possible
,” Shannon says. But she says they were initially told that the bullet entered behind his left ear — and Jake is right handed. She says even if the bullet went from upper right to lower left, “It would’ve been very difficult for Jake to have shot himself either way.”
Dr. Phil notes that Jake didn’t have a history of depression.
Shannon says Jake was very excited that his two best friends, who had gone away to college, were coming home. He reportedly spoke with one of those friends on the phone right before the gun went off, and the witnesses claimed he seemed happy at the time.
Dr. Phil reviews Mike and Shannon’s allegations and questions:
- If Jake was standing with the gun pointed at his skull at a slightly downward angle, how did the bullet end up in the ceiling?
- It was reported at the scene that a witness told the lead investigator that the moment before Jake was shot, Jake yelled out a warning that the gun was loaded. This investigator also told this to the family. Why was this not documented?
- Why did the Sandusky Sheriff’s department and the coroner rule his death a suicide with no investigation?
- A witness said the gun was moved prior to the sheriff arriving at the scene. Why wasn’t this questioned by authorities?
- Why was there no preservation of evidence at the scene?
- Why wasn’t any competent death scene investigator called to the scene?
- Why was a witness allowed to change her clothing? Why was another witness allowed to throw away his bloody shoes?
- If the officer at the scene reported that the deceased died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but may not have known the gun was loaded, that, in and of itself, is contradictory to suicide. Why, then, did the coroner rule it a suicide and send the body to the funeral home with no autopsy?
Lives Forever Changed
Brittany and Will remember back to that fateful night.
In their previously recorded interviews, Will and Brittany explain what life is like for them now.
“I went to the funeral,” Will says. “It was very awkward. It was my feeling that the family looked at us like we had something to do with this.”
“Mike believes that we did something wrong,” Brittany says. “He’s caused so much pain. He already knows that Jake shot himself. He just doesn’t want to believe it. So, why do I have to wake up every morning feeling like I want to die?”
“This is hurting more people than it is helping,” Will says. “I don’t blame Mike for trying to find the truth, but he just doesn’t accept the truth.”
“I am not lying. Losing Jacob was the worst thing that’s happened to any of us,” Brittany says.
Dr. Phil makes it clear to Brittany and Will that Mike and Shannon believe that Jake was shot by accident and aren’t accusing them of anything malicious.
“If you do know something about this … you need to give that up. They deserve that peace, and you deserve that freedom.”
Will grows frustrated. He tells Mike and Shannon, “None of us had anything to do with your son’s death. This just feels like another deposition. It just feels like I’m in court again and having to tell my story again for the fifth time.”
“Well, is that inconvenient for you?” Dr. Phil asks. “Are you complaining about them asking you?”
“Well, that’s what we’ve been telling them for two years almost,” Brittany says.
“There is nothing else I could say about the matter,” Will says. “There’s nothing else that happened that night. There’s nothing I could say that could release them from their suffering, and it makes me feel terrible that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve told the truth from day one. I took a lie detector test. I’ll take another one.” He tells Mike and Shannon, “I have nothing to say that will help you.”
Dr. Phil urges Will and Brittany to put themselves in Mike and Shannon’s shoes.
Brittany pleads with Jake’s parents. “We try to forget about this night every single day.”
Mike returns to the house where Jake died to explain what he thinks happened that night. “I’ve been in this house and gone over this in my mind a hundred times.”
After hearing Mike’s theory, Brittany responds, “It makes me mad to watch that. And you really do think one of us [did it].”
“We never said it was intentional,” Shannon tells her. “We know you, Brittany, well enough to know that. Accidents happen. They happen to good people every day.”
“And this is an accident that Jake caused,” Brittany says. “It was a freak accident. Maybe he just didn’t remember if the safety was on. I don’t know, Mike. I don’t know what he was thinking.”
Dr. Phil says he’s reviewed all of Brittany and Will’s statements and reports about the night Jake died, and there were inconsistencies, but they were not unusual. He tells Mike and Shannon, “I have to say, I did not see inconsistency that was unusual or unexpected,” he says. “Frankly, I’m surprised you could be as accurate as you were. If it was exactly, precisely consistent every time, that would concern me because psychologically, that would suggest rehearsal. I have to say regarding the inconsistencies, I didn’t see an inconsistency of consequence.”
He turns to Will. “You did say something, Will. You heard him say, ‘Be careful, there’s still one in there.’”
“I just know he picked up the gun and, before passing it around, told us to be careful, ‘There was one more in there. We didn’t shoot all six bullets outside.’ I said, ‘Yes, I understand that,'” Will explains. “I put it down. I did not cock the gun in any way. I did not have any hand in the gun going off whatsoever. The last person to have the gun was him. I can’t explain how it happened. I don’t understand how so many investigators can be on this situation and still not be able to figure it out … If I had a son, I’d do the same thing you guys are doing, and we can’t let go until you guys let go. I know you want answers, and I can’t give you the answers that you’re looking for.”
The discussion continues tomorrow!
Dr. Phil speaks with renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht — find out why he says Jake couldn’t have shot himself. And, Will and Brittany each take a polygraph test. What do the results reveal? And, will Mike and Shannon finally get the answers they want, so they can get some closure and move on? Don’t miss Part 2!