AMC+’s ‘True Crime Story: It Couldn’t Happen Here’ covers the tragic and brutal murder of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig in April 1990. Their neighbor’s son found the couple shot to death on their ranch in Portage County, Ohio. The police had to follow a lot of leads and gather relevant information before they could finally nail the perpetrator. The episode takes the viewers through the complex investigation process, laying down the facts concisely. If you want to learn the identity and the current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we’ve you covered. Let’s delve in then, shall we?
How Did Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig Die?
Bearnhardt Hartig was born on September 22, 1908, in Frostburg in Allegany County, Maryland, to George Hartig and Rachel Bevans Hartig. Cora Arnold Hartig was born in 1909 in Avilton in Garrett County, Maryland, to Lloyd A Arnold and Susie A Baker Arnold. They got married and moved to a ranch in Portage County, Ohio. They were in their early 80s but very active people, leading an active and joyful retired life.
Hence, the neighbors started to feel suspicious when they noticed the lawn tractor of the Hartigs sitting in their yard for 2 days while the elderly couple was nowhere to be seen. On April 7, 1990, James Davis, the son of the neighbors, went over to check up on them to find their garage door open. He entered the residence and was shocked to find the couple lying dead on their kitchen floor. Law enforcement officials arrived at the scene, amidst the smell of decaying flesh, to find the 10 Winchester .25 caliber shell casings lying near the fully clothed bodies.
The medical examiner found that Cora was shot 5 times and her cause of death was stated as internal injuries caused by gunshot wounds to the chest. Bearnhardt Hartig had been shot 3 times and his autopsy pinpointed “multiple visceral injuries” along with bullet wounds to the right side of his chest as the cause of death. With no trace of stippling or gunpowder residue, the medical examiner concluded that the fatal shots had been fired from a distance of at least more than “one and one half to three feet.”
Who Killed Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig?
On April 9, 1990, Alliance police arrested Tyrone Noling, Butch Wolcott, Joseph Dalesandro, and Gary St. Clair on charges of multiple robberies in Alliance, Ohio. While in custody, Tyrone allegedly admitted to killing the Hartig couple to his fellow inmate, Paul Garner. According to Paul’s testimony, Tyrone had allegedly told him that he did not mean to kill the couple but had no choice when Gary told his name in front of the victims by mistake.
Tyrone allegedly said, “I didn’t mean to do it. Just happened. The lady said: I know who you are.” But he denied the allegations to the detectives, even reportedly stating that he was being framed by his accomplice, Gary, for the murder of the elderly couple. According to court documents, the four convicts had driven to Portage County, Ohio, on April 5, 1990, at around 3:30-4 pm. Bearnhardt had been mowing the lawn outside when Tyrone and Gary had forced their way into the Hartig residence by brandishing a .25 caliber semiautomatic and a shotgun.
Following witness testimony, it also came to be known that Butch and Joseph were in the Hartigs’ driveway when they heard gunshots and the scream of a lady about 20-30 minutes into the robbery. The scream was followed by another volley of gunshots and everything went quiet. A few seconds later, Tyrone and Gary rushed into the automobile and the 4 of them drove away.
Where is Tyrone Noling Today?
All the charges against Tyrone Noling were dismissed in a 1992 trial, but he was indicted in August 1995 by a grand jury for the Hartig murders. He was indicted on aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and 2 counts of aggravated felony murder, with all the counts including gun specifications. The State had presented the testimonies of the investigating officers as well as Tyrone’s former friends and co-defendants to get the indictment.
Tyrone was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death in 1996. However, according to the Ohio Innocence Project, the investigators had no physical evidence tying Tyrone with the murder of the elderly couple. They also alleged that the investigators had coerced the testimonies of Tyrone’s accomplices, with all of them recanting their statements after the trial. Various appeals have been filed on Noling’s behalf in the years since, including to the Ohio Supreme Court, but all have been dismissed.
The Ohio Innocence Project, which is an initiative of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, had taken up Tyrone’s case in recent years. It defends convicts that they believe had been wrongfully convicted based on their research of the crimes and court testimonies. In March 2022, Tyrone won a small victory when the 11th District Court of Appeals allowed him and his defense counsel access to records that allegedly include “evidence his trial attorneys were never given.” As per official court records, the 50-year-old is on death row at the Chillicothe Correction Institution in Ross County, Ohio.