Investigation Discovery’s ‘Crime Scene Confidential: Threads of Evidence’ chronicles how a 32-year-old mother of two, Margie Coffey, was brutally killed in late January 1988. Her frozen body was discarded in a Richland County, Ohio, stream before being discovered by some Boy Scouts. While the authorities used forensic and circumstantial evidence to arrest the perpetrator, they maintained their innocence to date. The episode offers the stories of both the killer and the victim’s family, and if you’re interested to learn more, here’s what we know.
How Did Margie Coffey Die?
Marjorie Edna “Margie” Remy Coffey was born to Clarence Edward Remy Jr. and Marjorie Catherine (née Spreng) Remy in Mansfield in Richland County, Ohio, on November 4, 1955. Born in a fifth-generation farm family, the fair-skinned, blonde, and blue-eyed girl was gentle and shy as a child. Her family reminisced how she made her own Mother’s Day cards and promised her parents to build a home behind their farmhouse and never leave the road that bore their family name. However, they alleged Margie fell in with the “wrong crowd” in school.
Her brother, Timothy B. Remy, recollected, “When she started getting into trouble, it just never stopped. It was a terrible time. By the time she was out of high school, she was over her head.” By early 1988, the 32-year-old was trying to outrun her days as a wild, confused youth. Hence, it was shocking when her other brother, John E. Remy, reported his sister had been missing for ten days on January 27. Little did he know Margie’s body would be found three days later, strangled to death with her own winter scarf.
On January 30, 1988, the Butler, Ohio, police department received a 911 call from a horrified local Boys Scout leader. He and his tropp had been doing a civic project on Possum Creek, fishing out garbage from the water and the nearby banks. They had stumbled upon a body found partially covered in ice in the bed of Possum Run Creek just off North Bunker Road shortly around 2:30 pm. The woman’s body was fully clothed, lying face up, and fully covered by ice. Forensic evidence showed the corpse might have been in the water for some time.
Who Killed Margie Coffey?
According to news reports, Margie Coffey was still Margie Remy, then 19, fresh from Clear Fork High School in 1975. She wore thick, aqua-blue eyeshadow, and tight clothes, and charged money for sexual favors. She lived at 141 West Fourth Street — a house furnished with blue velvet loveseats. However, her brother, Timothy, stated, “But she never wanted that life.” Her mother, Marjorie Sr., believed her daughter fell in with the wrong kids at high school or, maybe, did not get the right love at home.
She said, “We were so busy on the farm, so involved in our milking and the like, we did not realize we were not doing justice to all the kids. Six in nine years. How you get so busy you do not realize what is going on. We just did not love her right.” Marjorie recollected how it seemed like suddenly her daughter did not want to go to church anymore, her grades fell, and she stopped playing the clarinet. As the family began hearing about Margie’s profession, Marjorie softly recalled, “We learned she was in with some girls that were not doing right.”
She said how she had visited the West Fourth Street residence twice but failed to persuade her daughter to leave. Marjorie added, “All along she felt she was threatened and not strong enough to get out of it. I just wanted her to come home. But she just said she could not, not now, or something. I went away in tears.” Reports stated Margie escaped her situation after about three years with the help of Mari Lynn Smith, who taught for over two decades in Mansfield City Schools. By January 1988, the mother of two had been trying her best to forget her past.
The show narrated, “Margie had figured out she was going to make a better life for her kids and did anything that she could for those children.” She spent her time studying the Bible, gardening, and cleaning homes for a living. She was a frequent patron at Mr. T’s Coffee Shop — a popular hangout spot for law enforcement in Mansfield. Police sources state Margie had been missing since about 11:40 pm when she left Mr. T’s Coffee Shop on January 20, 1988. Her abandoned vehicle was found near the Subway Inn two days after she disappeared.
Inside the car were a few grocery items, a gift-wrapped outfit for a little boy, and an unsigned anniversary card for her brother, Timothy, and his wife. After her remains were discovered, her autopsy report determined she had been strangled with her winter scarf, which was still wrapped around her neck. The water had long washed away fingerprints, hair, DNA, or other forensic evidence generally found at a crime scene. Alina Burroughs, a forensic expert and the show host, concluded, “You have to be close to your victim in order to strangle them physically.”
Margie had previously dated two Mansfield police officers. One of the officers, Robert Lemon, confirmed a brief relationship with her but claimed they had lost contact. The more significant revelation was her involvement with erstwhile Lieutenant Charles Oswalt —a married father of three and a 15-year veteran — in a sexual relationship. Her friends suggested she might have hoped for a long-term commitment but knew it was unlikely. Adding complexity, Margie listed him as the father of her younger son in a paternity suit, making him a prime suspect.
A paternity test indicated a 99 percent likelihood of Charles being Brandon’s father. Furthermore, investigators discovered two red carpet fibers, consistent with the police cruiser Charles used at the time, on her leg warmers and coat. This patrol car — cruiser no. 306 — was unique as it was the only vehicle that had carpeting instead of rubber mats. The prosecution believed they had enough evidence to charge him in Margie’s death while the former lieutenant, then 43, vehemently maintained his innocence.
Where is Charles Oswalt Now?
During his late 1988 trial, the prosecution claimed Charles used his crime scene knowledge to his advantage while his defense insisted it was a cover-up. In the end, he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and gross abuse of a corpse and served almost 16 years of a 10 to 25-year sentence before being paroled in 2004. Charles appeared on the show and maintained his innocence. When asked if he killed her on the show, he stressed, “Absolutely not.” Now in his late 70s, he continues to live in Lexington, Ohio.
He added, “I had a sexual experience with Margie back in October of ’79. It was a one-time sexual occurrence. I didn’t see Margie again until 1986. At that time, she asked me how I would feel if she told me that I was the father of her child. And I said, ‘I don’t believe it.’ She said, ‘Well, I’m going to file a paternity suit.’ I said, ‘File what you’ve gotta file.'” He stressed he never met with her again after seeing her at Mr. T’s and claimed he was checking on drug activity elsewhere when she disappeared.