More than a month after Jessica Coleman, 26, was reportedly abducted and found dead, her father tells Cleveland 19 that police are treating his family more like suspects than victims.
Jessica Coleman was last seen at a family barbecue in South Euclid on Sunday April 25. Clifton Coleman said he heard that night from her fiancé that something was wrong.
“My wife and I were just sitting here watching the Cavs game and I got a phone call from her fiancé who had just gotten home and found out that the house was in disarray and my daughter wasn't there,” said Clifton.
At the time, Warrensville Heights police said Coleman's car was found at her home and her purse was inside. Police said her home may have been broken into and her cell phone was missing.
Clifton told Cleveland 19 that his daughter’s fiancé initially told him on Sunday that Jessica was being held for a $5,000 ransom; her body was discovered Monday afternoon.
“It didn't seem real. It didn't seem like this could truly be happening, and once they found her body it became real,” said Clifton.
He said he and his wife have both cooperated with the investigation, and initially didn’t want to talk to Cleveland 19, because he feared it might interfere with the investigation.
He said now he’s talking because he doesn’t like the way he says Cleveland Police have treated his family.
Clifton said that the police were slow to return things like the keys to Jessica’s car, which sat in the driveway in front of her Warrensville Heights home for weeks.
When Clifton Coleman said he eventually called police and told them he needed the keys back, he said a detective on the case said, "he said I was lucky to get the car back he told me as far as he was concerned he could keep the car until the trial for evidence."
Clifton Coleman said he was upset by this answer, and said that the detective was not treating him as if his family lost a loved one.
He said that the next hurdle has been his daughter's life insurance policy.
According to Clifton Coleman, his daughter had a life insurance policy through her work, that he said he didn't even know about until after her death.
He said the insurance company sent a letter to Cleveland Police, asking them to confirm that neither he nor his wife were suspects in their daughter's murder. He said that the police never responded to the insurance company, and he said he spoke to the detective involved in the case.
"His response to me was as long as this case is open he's not ruling out anything. So I asked him, 'are you saying that my wife is a suspect in this?' and his response was, 'as long as this case is open I'm not ruling out anything,'" said Coleman.
He said the policy itself isn't large, but he said the additional money would be helpful to pay for things like funeral expenses and his daughter's car.
"You encounter other expenses when you have a death in the family that you don't really plan for or expect and those things still have to occur and that is the purpose for having life insurance," said Clifton Coleman. "They're treating my wife and myself as if we had something to do with this without telling us that we have something to do with this, but they definitely are not treating me as if I'm someone who has actually suffered a loss."
Cleveland Police said there are no updates to release at this time, and that no suspects have been identified. A police spokeswoman also said detectives are in regular contact with the family.
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