Chester Crank: Where is Bennie Angelo’s Killer Now?

In January 2007, firefighters responded to reports of a fire on Endrow Avenue NE in Canton, Ohio. The home belonged to Bennie Angelo, a World War II veteran. By the time help arrived, Bennie was already unresponsive. When he was recovered from the building, police discovered he had been shot four times, and his house had been ransacked. His safe was pried open, and due to the fire, no significant DNA or fingerprints could be collected from the scene. A&E’s ‘Cold Case Files’ episode ‘Death of a Hero’ chronicles the years of investigation and the crucial lead that ultimately led to the apprehension of the killer, Chester Crank.

Chester Crank Told His Cousin About the Murder

On the night of January 7, 2007, Chester Crank entered Bennie Angelo’s house with three other individuals. They planned to rob the house and steal the $20,000 that Bennie kept in his safe. During the robbery, Bennie woke up and reached for the gun he kept beside his bed. Crank managed to overpower the older man, took the gun, and shot him to death. He then called his three accomplices and instructed them also to shoot Bennie so that they would all be equally culpable.

In an attempt to cover up the crime, Crank poured alcohol on the carpet in Bennie’s living room and started a fire. Initially, this succeeded in thwarting the police investigation, but it did not last long. He began bragging about his actions to people around him and also told his cousin, Regina Crank. Despite his confession, the police did not connect him to the crime for years and pursued various leads that ultimately did not materialize.

In an attempt to gather more leads and information, Bennie’s family announced a $15,000 cash reward for anyone who could help in the arrest and conviction of the killer. Regina, who was in prison then, contacted the police and claimed to have pertinent information. She informed them that her cousin had talked about the murder, and she believed he was telling the truth. The police found her credible and asked if she would wear a wire to record his confession. Initially apprehensive, Regina agreed when the police mentioned that she could be released from jail and potentially earn the cash reward offered by the family.

After being sent on the mission, Regina connected with Chester and subtly began asking him about the murder. While he didn’t reveal everything immediately, he provided a detailed account of what had transpired that night over time. With his confession recorded on tape, the police charged Crank with aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and aggravated arson, leading to his arrest in late September.

Chester Crank is in an Ohio State Prison Today

Chester Crank’s trial commenced in July 2014. Prosecutors presented his recorded confession and called eight to nine witnesses who testified against him, asserting that he had committed the crimes. They also introduced evidence showing that Bennie Angelo’s wallet and ID card were discovered near his residence a few weeks after the murder. In his defense, Crank argued that his statements were made under the influence of alcohol and did not prove his presence in Bennie’s house, emphasizing the lack of DNA or forensic evidence linking him directly to the crime scene.

On July 25, 2014, Crank was convicted on all four charges against him. On May 18, 2015, he received sentencing: eight years for aggravated arson, three years each for firearm specifications totaling nine years, and life imprisonment without parole for aggravated murder. An additional one-year sentence was imposed for identity theft. In 2016, he filed an appeal claiming ineffective counsel, but the appeal was denied. Currently 44 years old, Crank is incarcerated at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Ohio, with no possibility of parole.

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