They Got It Right

They Got It Right

They Got It Right

There isn’t a word that is strong enough to tell you how I feel.

All I can say is – it’s over.

The DNA tests are in and they are conclusive. They’ve left me angry.

And baffled.

The Ohio Innocence Project had claimed Samuel J. Herring did not brutalize Phyllis Cottle. That police got the wrong man. That the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury all got it wrong. That Samuel J. Herring was…innocent.

The Ohio Innocence Project had uncovered evidence that related to the case against Herring. It was found in a remote storage area in Summit County, Ohio.

The most compelling evidence was semen found on the crotch of Phyllis Cottle’s pants and underwear.

Those items had been in storage for the past 39 years. But the DNA was salvageable.

And yes, it tells a whopper of a story.

According to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, forensic scientists were able to match that DNA to a suspect.

They found that the semen found on Phyllis’ clothing belonged to…Samuel J. Herring.

The very same Samuel J. Herring who had requested DNA testing to prove his innocence.

So, it turns out, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that police, prosecutors and the jury, did not get it wrong.

The got it right.

The DNA results showed a 1 in 1-trillion match.

Former prosecutor, Emily Pelphry said it means, “He did it. If he is denying that he was ever there and never knew her, well then there should be none. So, this number really does boil it down to the fact that his DNA was in a place where it was not supposed to be.”

I wish Phyllis was still with us. I wonder what she would say?

I know what I would say.

What a monster.

To proclaim your innocence when you know YOU DID IT? To put Phyllis’ family through hell – again? To tarnish the legacy of a true hero – Phyllis Cottle? To, in the words of the Summit County prosecutor, manipulate the people of the Ohio Innocence Project?

What the hell?

In 1984, after Herring was sent to prison for brutalizing Phyllis, he sent her letters that proclaimed his innocence. He told Phyllis she would “burn in hell,” because she locked him up.

He also professed his innocence before the Ohio parole board repeatedly. For the past 39 years, Herring has never admitted to the crimes against Phyllis.

That puzzled me. If Herring had apologized for the crime, he could possibly have gotten of prison at some point. But he refused.

And he wanted DNA testing. Who would want that if they actually did the crime? That’s just…insane.

Casey Jordan, a criminologist and forensic psychologist, told me some criminals can brainwash themselves into believing they’re innocent.

"It's as if every day he wakes up and it's Groundhog Day for him,” Jordan told me. “He doesn't believe he did it. He has no memory of doing it. He has blocked it from his memory. He feels no remorse because he just says he didn't do it.”

That type of self-brainwashing is called pseudologia fantastica. “You actually convince yourself of a new truth to the extent that you could even pass a lie detector test,” Jordan said.

Phyllis’ family never doubted that Herring was guilty. They’ve long fought to keep him behind bars.

They’re relieved it’s over, but issued a warning to the Ohio Innocence Project and the media who partnered with the non-profit.

“We would also like to ask the Innocence Project/Marshall Project to vet any future cases more carefully and with better due diligence. We hope with a better due diligence, both Projects, as well as Cleveland’s News Channel 5, will keep in mind that their actions affect others in ways that they may not realize or understand, including, but not limited to, the victim's families. The Innocence Project should not be the reason why victims of crimes are afraid to come forward.”

I understand why Phyllis’ family released that statement.

Phyllis Cottle, who was raped, robbed, and blinded had every reason to be afraid to go to authorities, but she found the courage to tell her truth – in vivid detail.

Still, I am not going to condemn the Ohio Innocence Project. It does important work. There are injustices in our criminal justice system. And we need organizations to represent those people who are in prison for crimes they did not commit.

What happened in this case?

That is the subject of the next episode of Blind Rage.


Lisa Grady

The podcast was EXCELLENT!! And I’m a frequent crime listener so I only have a few I consider “worthy” of my highest praise! What a remarkable woman Phyllis was
I hope that you will continue to present more cases. This was awesome (although I do prefer longer episodes just for ease of listening). Headed to the App Store to rate and will subscribe !
From Tampa

Candace LinkedIn


I love your storytelling for this podcast! It made me feel like I was right there, seeing everything happen in real time. Like you could close your eyes and envision every word that's being said. Thank you for telling Phyllis' story, and I can't wait for the next episode!


Carol I just love how direct you are! This podcast was one of my favorites to binge. Can't wait for what you have next for us!

Keep Reading

Blind Rage: The Unthinkable

True Crime

This blog article passionately defends Phyllis Cottle, portraying her as a resilient survivor, while delving into the controversial case against her alleged perpetrator, Herring, examining the circumstantial evidence and raising questions about the reliability of forensic science used in the trial.

Read Full Post