(September 28, 2016)- Today the Cape Coral Police Department announced an arrest in one of its oldest open homicide investigations, the 1990 double murder of Lisa Story and Robin Cornell.
On Tuesday September 27, 2016, Detective Christy Jo Ellis of the Cape Coral Police Department Major Crimes Unit, arrested Joseph Adam Zieler, W/M, DOB: 04-15-1962, for the murder and rape of Lisa Story, 32 and Robin Cornell, 11. Detective Kurt Grau of the Cape Coral Police Department Major Crimes Unit, was able to obtain a warrant for Zieler’s arrest. This murder occurred on May 10, 1990, at the Courtyards apartments located at 631 SE 12th Avenue, here in Cape Coral.
On that date, Jan Cornell left for the evening, leaving her 11 year old daughter Robin in the care of her new roommate, Lisa Story. When Jan returned home, she heard footsteps inside her apartment and upon entering found an ironing board open with pictures of her daughter laid out. Jan ran upstairs and saw Lisa’s lifeless body in her bed. Jan ran to her daughter Robin’s room and found her on the floor of her room deceased.
9-1-1 was called and Cape Coral Police responded to the scene. The investigation revealed that Robin and Lisa were suffocated and sexually assaulted, the apartment was ransacked, and items were taken.
The largest murder investigation in the history of Cape Coral began that day. That investigation continued for the last 26 years. Numerous items of evidence were seized during the initial investigation including several items found to have DNA not belonging to the victims. In the late 1990s, when new DNA technology became available, the evidence was re-tested and a DNA profile was obtained that was entered into the CODIS system. CODIS is a national database containing the DNA from unsolved violent crimes.
On August 27, 2016, Joseph Zieler of N. Ft. Myers was arrested for aggravated battery against his son. Under a 2009 law, all persons in Florida arrested for a felony will have their DNA taken and compared to CODIS. The Lee County Jail took Zieler’s DNA and FDLE obtained a match to evidence from the Murders of Robin Cornell and Lisa Story. Follow up investigation by the CCPD Major Crimes Unit confirmed the DNA match and disclosed further evidence of Zieler’s guilt.
"The successful conclusion to this case is a credit everyone in the Cape Coral Police Department from 1990 to today. The original crime scene and investigation were professionally worked and well documented. Follow up investigation, including the submission of hundreds of DNA samples for comparison, was aggressively pursued. The Cape Coral Police Department Property and Evidence unit preserved all evidence and its chain of custody, then constantly updated testing of evidence as new techniques became available," Acting Captain Christopher Ellis, Investigative Services Bureau.
"This arrest is the culmination of 26 years of work, spanning more than half of the entire history of this police department. This arrest closes one of the oldest homicides in Cape Coral history. I want to personally thank the investigators, past and present, for their meticulous work, their dedication, their professionalism, and their belief that this case would eventually be solved," Chief Dave Newlan.
The Cape Coral Police Department held a news conference today at noon to announce the arrest to the public. Watch below:
ARRESTED: Joseph Adam Zieler W/M, DOB: 04-15-1962, of North Fort Myers, FL.
CHARGES: Burglary (with an assault or a homicide), Sexual Battery (x2), First Degree Murder (x2)
While the arrest has been made and the case is now closed, detectives still want to talk to anyone who knew Joseph Adam Zieler back in the 1990s, or who might have any information about him in general. If you have any information please contact Detective Sergeant Bennet Walker of the Cape Coral Police Department Major Crimes Unit at 239-242-3319.
CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341