Mentally challenged teen's father glad rape suspect is in custody

Slagle: 'I apologize...I was impatient'
Aaron Krause
Apr 8, 2014


The father of an 18-year-old mentally-impaired daughter said he's glad the person accused of kidnapping and raping her is behind bars. The Willard man, who called the Reflector Tuesday, also apologized to police for being "rude and impatient."

After the alleged incident occurred, Gerald Slagle picketed outside Willard Police Department's headquarters and, at night, stood outside the suspect's home to ensure he wouldn't hurt children living nearby.

Slagle has said he protested with a sign because he believed police and prosecutors weren't taking his daughter's alleged attacker off the streets fast enough.

"I apologize to them and thank them for what they've done. I was impatient," Slagle said. He added he wants to thank "all involved" in getting Howard R. Zerkle, 80, of 151 Crestwood Drive, Willard, off the street.

Slagle, however, said he doesn't regret protesting. He said he believes doing so "pushed the case forward and made (authorities) want to do something."

Zerkle, who must post a $150,000 bond to be released from jail, was arrested at his home Saturday morning without incident on a secret indictment a day after a Huron County grand jury met. He is charged with one count of each of rape, kidnapping and sexual battery.

The three felonies are in connection with an incident involving Slagle's daughter.

Slagle said he stopped protesting a couple months ago, after a Plymouth police officer advised him to stop because it could impede their investigation.

Now that the suspect is in jail, "I feel a lot more at ease," Slagle said. "I don't have to worry about him stalking my daughter or any other child. At least I know he can't get to my daughter any more."

Slagle said his daughter is receiving counseling and children's services representatives are working with her. He added she still has nightmares and is sometimes nervous to attend school, but she's going. Slagle said when he explained to her that she was taken advantage of, she was glad that the suspect is in custody.

Willard's and Plymouth's police chiefs said they're not mad at Slagle.

"If it was my daughter I'd be upset," Plymouth Police Chief Charles Doan said.

Willard Police Chief Mark Holden said he understands what Slagle was going through.

"We tried to explain (to Slagle) that this takes time, there's a lot of things that need to be done," Holden said. "Nobody really faulted (Slagle) for doing what he did."

Holden said police consulted with the Willard law director's office and Huron County Prosecutor's Office to ensure they could present a good case. Holden also noted that a grand jury session was held Friday, and Zerkle was arrested on a secret indictment the next morning. Willard Police Department Detective Jeremy Draper has said Zerkle didn't make any statements about the case when he was arrested.

The alleged incident was reported Jan. 31, first to the Plymouth Police Department since the victim lives there. Willard police started investigating the case soon afterward.

Slagle has said Zerkle got his daughter's name from another Plymouth High School student and followed her school bus to her house. When she got off, Zerkle lured her to him, claiming he'd take her to his house, out to eat and to play games, Slagle said. The father added his daughter, who is friendly and likes and trusts everyone, probably thought Zerkle was a friend.

"They found my daughter's blood in his bed," Slagle earlier told the Reflector, adding authorities also found two used condoms in his apartment and blood on a towel.

Editor's note: Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby contributed to this story.


JMOP's picture

Mr. Slagle,

If you feel the need to apologize, so be it. I'm sure you held back on what your first instinct was to do, you did what you could only do legally. You needed to protect your daughter, and felt the need to protect others. I'm sorry this happened to her and your family. Some form of justice will come your way soon.

As for the suspect, I wonder what the federal conviction is for....Hmmmm???


The crappy thing is even if he gets life, it won't be very long.


Right but that is still the ultimate die in a place like prison. The sooner the better though so we, as tax payers, don't have to pay for this guy's living expenses.


I think his federal conviction happened in NC. He is an old scum bag!!!!


Mr. Slagle, there is no need to apologize. You experienced (although magnified a thousand times) the frustration felt by many police officers working these cases.


I don't know anyone who would have an ounce of patience if their child had been violated. You are your child's most valuable advocate and warrior.


Agree. And to be able to watch this scumbag at night without breaking his neck takes more patience than I have. Props!


Mr.Slagle thank you for watching this scum bag at night to protect our children. I could care less about whom you sued in the past, your present actions show me you are a caring, law abiding citizen! I feel horrible there was no one to protect your daughter.


This is the first time I have seen sooo many positive comments. Mr. Slagle, you are my idol :)

If you read all these comments you will know that so many commend you for how you handled this terrible issue. I hope your family stays strong in the months to come.


Dates then and his age now says it is most likely is.


Yes this is him.


jerry slagle is trouble from the get go. he is definetly out after something. if he relly thinks this man can have sex when it doesnt even work, hes nuts. the man just had a hip replacement a few weeks ago. could hardly walk before that. his daughter must have thought it was some kind of a game contacting howard and giving him a sob story about how bad her life was.she called him to get her away from all the fighting in her house. what she was doing contacting him is still a mystery. but who gives a 6 yr old a phone anyway. she had talked to howard for quite some time before he picked her up that day. a kidnapper doesnt bring there victoms back home. then to get met my the police. seems like it was a set up. jerry kept saying howard was a rich business man. he was still working at 80. if he was so rich why was he still working.jerry is out for something ,dont know what it is yet. but it will come out.


A kidnapper doesn't bring their victims back to their home? Ariel Castro ring a bell? Used condoms and blood was found. Pretty damning evidence. Sounds like you are personally biased, and barely anything in your comment made sense.

JMOP's picture

You don't know what Jerry is out to get? He's out to get justice for his daughter.

Maybe you're the one fooled. The perp squeezed someone out of over 6 million dollars. The old man should've been in prison for life after that Ponzi scheme.


Good Lord, after re-reading that comment I'm not even sure if my reply was ACTUALLY a reply. It's like reading brain scramble. Bottom line...stay in school kids!


you idiots just dont get it. there cant be any sex. the man has prostate cancer. it doesnt work. he is 80 u morons. viagra wont fix that. bum hip, cant happen. sorry but it will all come out. all these stories r fabricated by jerry slagle. the king moron.


Do you have an intimate relationship with this man's penis? You sound very passionate and informed about it. And age doesn't matter. There was a dirty old man that I knew and he was still knocking boots until the day he died. And guess what Doogie Howser, he had prostate and colon cancer. Jerry (who I do not know) cannot be king moron when the crown is on your head.

JMOP's picture

+10000!!! @whatsyourissue.

JMOP's picture

Educate yourself please. You have no room to call anyone on here morons.

Yes, you can have erections after 80, yes Viagra can help with ED if he has prostate cancer.

Bum hip? You said he goes to work still, so it can't be debilitating.


Yes! And not to mention there were USED condoms found. For a supposed non-functioning penis, that seems odd. I guess he was just making balloon animals for nice, wholesome entertainment ;)


condoms r hearsay.fabricated stories from jerry and the paper.these stories r not facts its like the fake wrestling that people think is real. not true facts.just something to print in the paper to get certain people all jerked out of shape.i know people can have erections after 80.viagra doesnt help with all problems. so u know jmop.there were no used condoms or bloody sheets. all hearsay. do u get that? hearsay!

JMOP's picture

I'm not sure why I keep replying to you. Other than trying to school ya. Read this. If you don't believe me, do your own research.

This is from the Prostate Cancer Foundation website:

Look under medications in that section.

Facts are for me

It's amazing how vocal everyone is on here before the facts are even out on the table. You heard the dad's side of things and you assume everything he says is truth. Remember there is 3 sides to a story and it sounds like maybe even 4 sides to this one. Once this man goes to trial, the facts will be presented and the jury will make the final decision of what they feel is the truth versus fiction. No one ever considers the families feelings on a situation before throwing punches to one party or the other.


u jmop i dont know why im replying back to u either.BUT. the fact is it doesnt work. not just because of prostate cancer. it just DOESNT work. how much more clear can i make it!!! i dont know why i have to repeating myself. im schooling u with a FACT. do ya get it yet? FACT!and as for his working at not a physical job. so with having the bad hip, he can still do the job.