On the evening of July 6, 1938, “a dapper little man” by the name of Charles E. Hoehler led a group of law officers through the sand at Indian Creek, paused about 20 feet from the shore and said “Dig here, it ought to be here.”
The body of Joseph Zimmerman, a 44-year-old Toledo underworld figure, was thus unearthed from a shallow grave into which he’d been dumped some two months earlier. Hoehler told detectives from Toledo and local law enforcement officials that he and a companion searched the lakeshore from Ashtabula to Conneaut on the night of May 24 to find a suitable place to bury the body that was in the luggage compartment of their car. They found the perfect spot along Indian Creek, east of GOTL.
Zimmerman, Hoehler and the companion had tried to knock off the Toledo stockyard that morning, but a gun battle with a watchman erupted. Zimmerman was killed, possibly by bullets from both sides, and the thugs had to dispose of his body. Hoehler was later arrested and led police to the burial site 2.5 feet under the sand.
Fragments of the victim’s clothing – part of a black jacket and fragments of blue coveralls – were retrieved from Indian Creek the following day by Coast Guardsmen. Zimmerman was dressed only in his underwear when his body was exhumed.