The son of a former Ohio University trustee pleaded guilty on May 22 to slaying of his father in their suburban Columbus home.
Nearly two years after the killing occurred, 19-year-old Jonah Lake pleaded guilty to staging a home intrusion and firing five rounds into his father, Kevin Lake, in their home in New Albany.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page accepted Jonah Lake’s plea for a single count of murder and sentenced him to mandatory life in prison, with no parole offered before 15 years, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Kevin Lake was a former trustee for OU who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and operating a pill mill in 2017. Kevin admitted to over $20 million in money laundering, according to a previousAthens NEWSarticle. He resigned from his position as trustee the same year.
Maj. Steven Tucker of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office characterized the late Kevin Lake as manipulative and deceitful.
“Everyone that knew him said he was a masterful manipulator,” Tucker told The NEWSMay 28. “I’m sure he had everyone convinced he was someone that he was not.”
In June of that year, Tucker recounted, police responded to a call from Jonah Lake – Kevin Lake had been fatally shot five times while lying in bed by an alleged home intruder.
Prior to the slaying, Kevin allegedly had awakened one morning to discover a threatening letter on his bathroom floor regarding his tax evasion and pill-mill scheme plea deal with prosecutors. Tucker said the letter contained a photo of Jonah Sleeping and instructions to meet the sender at a nearby cell phone tower.
Kevin panicked, and took the letter to the FBI, who then ordered Kevin and Jonah to subject themselves to a polygraph test, Tucker said.
The next day, he continued, Kevin laid dying in his bed, apparently gunned down by a home intruder.
Tucker said Jonah immediately became a suspect shortly after the investigation began into the homicide.
“We began to determine pretty quickly that Jonah Lake was likely the suspect,” Tucker said. “It sounds like something out of the mind of a 19-year-old that watched too much television or played too many video games.”
Tucker said evidence time and time again pointed toward Jonah as the culprit.
One of the key indicators that Jonah was the suspect was the photo of him sleeping that was included in the threatening letter Kevin received, Tucker said.
During a trash pull conducted by investigators, detectives discovered a cut-up piece of printer paper that matched the dimensions of the photo included in the letter, Tucker said. Furthermore, the paper from the photo matched the printer paper used at the Lake home. This suggested Jonah had printed the photo of himself sleeping, snuck into his father’s bathroom, and placed the letter while his father slept, Tucker said.
Additionally, Jonah tested positive for gunpowder residue on his arms, indicating that he had fired a gun, Tucker said. The window screen that Jonah had claimed the home intruder entered through also had been cut from the inside, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatchalso reported that detectives were unable to present this information to Jonah Lake, who only spoke with detectives once.
Additionally, the Dispatchreportedthat Jonah had made a number of suspicious Google searches, including “could 40 mm bullets be shot through a 9 mm gun,” “rubber gloves and DNA,” “how to disappear completely” and “how loud is the decibel level when a 9 mm is shot in a house.”
Tucker said it appeared to detectives that Jonah hated his father and resented him for putting the family in the position they were in following the pill-mill and money-laundering scandal.
“It appears that Jonah genuinely despised his father, that he had a genuine disdain for his father,” Tucker said.
Jonah Lake’s attorney, Terry Sherman, declined to comment for The Athens NEWS.