Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The bizarre case of Duane Hurley and Daniel Kovarbasich

The Police at Hurley's House

Pickle jar found at crime scene
Pickle jar found at crime scene

When the police responded to Duane Hurley's home that morning to investigate the report of a disturbance, which is how they characterized the phone call they received at 8:46 a.m., Danny was being observed and treated at the hospital—before Abt arrived and began interrogating the youth. The responding officers quickly saw a man, who was visible from a window in the front door, lying on his stomach on a landing at the top of a short flight of stairs. When they went inside they determined that he was indeed dead, and officers could see that he had sustained severe wounds to his head and torso. There were deep lacerations to his head that exposed his skull. The cops found a knife lying next to his body—it was still wet with blood. It was believed that he had been struck in the head and stabbed a number of times. The officers also noted blood spatter and blood smears in several areas of the house, including a living room wall and ceiling, and hallway walls and doors. They discovered a bloody shoe print in the kitchen, and blood droplets on the hallway carpet.

When the investigating officers went into Hurley's bedroom, they noticed a strong aroma of pickles and found a large pickle jar on the floor near the bed. They noted that pickles were scattered about the floor and on the bedding, along with the juice—presumably from the jar.

North Ridgeville Police Chief Richard D. Thomas
North Ridgeville Police Chief Richard D.

The lead officer wrote in the preliminary report that it appeared that the assault had started in the bedroom, and that the pickle jar may have been used in the attack—there were no weapons or other items in the room that could have caused the severe lacerations on Hurley's head.

Despite the 911 call from Danny's father, North Ridgeville Police Chief Richard D. Thomas said that his office was not yet naming a suspect, and initially released few details of the apparent homicide. Thomas said that Hurley's death was only the fourth or fifth homicide that had occurred in this otherwise quiet community since he joined the North Ridgeville Police Department in 1979. After detectives and crime scene technicians began their work at the home, Thomas said that they had gathered a "sizeable quantity of evidence" but declined to be more specific at that time.

"There are a number of reasons why we're not the present time," Thomas said. Thomas added that Hurley and Danny "were acquainted, but did not live in the same neighborhood."

It was later revealed, however, in part because of the ages of the victim and suspect, that investigators suspected sexual abuse as a potential or even likely motive for the attack on Hurley. Although detectives had not found any pornographic magazines, lubricants or sex toys inside the house, they did recover from Hurley's computer approximately 1,500 pornographic photos that had been downloaded from Internet websites. Some of the photos depicted what appeared to be underage boys in sexually explicit scenarios. One of the investigators would testify later that most of the photos appeared to be illegal. Investigators also found gay pornographic websites bookmarked on Hurley's hard drives, including one site that appeared to feature underage boys engaging in homosexual activities, as well as several homosexual videos.


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