by Kyle Swenson
Update: Last week, Frank Dienes pleaded guilty to killing Joe Kopp. This morning, he was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.
Dienes will be eligible for parole in 16 years. (NewsNet5)
As James Renner points out, there's a little more:
One bit of good news to take away from this ordeal: the state now gets Dienes' DNA. When he's processed into prison, authorities will take his DNA, as they do now with all people convicted of felonies in the state of Ohio.
This means Bay Village police will have a sample to test against DNA found at a crime scene in Amy Mihaljevic's case.
Maybe we'll soon get an answer as to whether Joe Kopp was right when he accused Frank Dienes of killing Amy.
In April, down in the sleepy postage stamp of Seven Hills, strange news brewed when the body of a local eccentric, Joe Kopp, was discovered buried behind the house of Frank Dienes.
The homeowner was eventually arrested and charged with the crime. Now a month away from the trial date, 19ActionNews has a report today with new information coming from the previously-unidentified woman who tipped police off to the murder.
Not that we really get the curtain completely pulled back on the identity of the individual; the woman is referred to as “Nicole” but doesn't show her face to the camera. Nonetheless, she, like Kopp, stayed with Dienes and his disabled wife. But in Nicole's telling, Kopp wasn't as much a beloved town oddball as a violent nuisance.
"He was very threatening. I witnessed a lot of yelling and screaming and I witnessed a lot of threats made by Joe against their lives," said Nicole.
Nicole says Joe threatened to burn the house if he couldn't stay there, and on several occasions turned Char's [Dienes' wife] oxygen supply off.
During an argument in which Kopp refused to leave the house, the two men went into the basement and Dienes killed Kopp in self-defense, Nicole claims. The body was buried in the backyard, where it stayed for a month before Dienes told his wife. In turn, she told Nicole, who informed police. Nicole then is likely the unidentified Cleveland State student and friend of the family who informed police to the crime according to a statement by Seven Hills Police Chief Gary Durkin in April.
What's interestingly about this report is what's been left on the cutting room floor, nothing less than the huge elephant butting into the frame: Amy Mihaljevic.
As we reported in May, shortly after the discovery of the body, it began to circulate that Kopp had previously told neighbors Dienes was responsible for the 1989 murder of the 11-year-old girl from Bay Village. From our earlier story:
Although the relationship between Kopp and Dienes ended on Oakwood, it began a couple miles north on Rustic Oval, a cul-de-sac where the Dieneses moved in early 1990. At the time, Kopp was living nearby in his parents' basement. The two men often talked. Residents today say it was then that Kopp first linked Dienes to the Mihaljevic crime.
One former neighbor, Tom Carolin, remembers Kopp telling the kids around Rustic Oval to stay away from Dienes because he'd "killed Amy."
"We figured that if it was true, someone would have done something about it already," Carolin says today.
Greg Wilk lived in a house next door to the Dienes family in the early '90s.
He clearly remembers Kopp talking about Feddie's connection to Mihaljevic. Kopp's hunch sprang from Dienes' resemblance to the suspect sketch and the location of the farm. Back then, Kopp carried around a picture of the sketch folded up in his pocket, and also claimed to have confronted Dienes with his suspicions, Wilk says.
"When Frank would hear anything from Joe, he'd just swirl his finger around his ear and say Joe was off," he recalls. Kopp also told Wilk he'd gone to Seven Hills police, but was turned away.
"They ignored him, or at least that's what he said," Wilk recalls. "Joe's problem was he couldn't assimilate all of the information he took in, so what he told people, sometimes it wasn't completely true."
Now, although Dienes was questioned by Bay Village police in the mid-90s about the Mihaljevic case, nothing has been made public to link him to the crime. That may be why 19ActionNews steered clear from the terrain. But it's still worth keeping the accusation in the conversation in that it must have colored the dynamic between Dienes and Kopp. Even if you were completely innocent of the crime, you probably wouldn't take too kindly to a guy gabbing to the neighborhood you're behind one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the region.