YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – During the last 11 years, there were plenty of people fighting to get justice for Karl Hoerig, who was murdered in his Newton Falls home in 2007. Some of his closest friends are ecstatic that the person charged with killing him has been brought back to the U.S. for a trial.
Karl Hoerig was a major in the Air Force at the Vienna base.
“He was a great person, I just don’t think there’s anyone better,” Chris Swegan, Karl’s best friend, said over a decade ago.
Karl, Chris, Gary Dodge and State Rep. John Boccieri were a tight-knit group bonded by the love of flying. Chris and Gary still can’t get over the news that Claudia Hoerig, Karl’s wife, is back in Trumbull County — behind bars and awaiting arraignment.
“Just unbelievable. None of us had any idea this was taking place, that this was going on. It was just an incredible surprise to all of us,” Chris said.
“This just goes to show how great of a person Karl was, and still is, because I know if I was in the same situation, he’d be the one sitting here, advocating for me. This is truly a blessing,” Gary said.
To say the last decade has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone close to Karl would be an understatement. But now justice is closer than anyone could have imagined.
“I know the trial is still to come, but the big hurdle of getting her back here…is over and it’s almost as if you can sort of see a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel,” Chris said.
“For me, I’m ecstatic for his parents. Here we are, very, very good friends with Karl, I just couldn’t imagine being his parents and having that rush of emotion,” Gary said.
The pair also has endless praise for Congressman Tim Ryan and Boccieri, their friend and fellow airman, for fighting so hard, even when doubt started to seep in.
“It’s just been such a long time coming but it just means so much for what everyone has done to keep this in the public’s eye. And for it to come through like this, it’s surreal,” Gary said.
Chris also commended Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.
“He’s been fantastic in all this, very persistent, and I think he deserves a lot of praise as well.”
Chris and Gary say it’s actually ironic they were together when they got the news of Claudia’s extradition. Chris flies airplanes for Southwest and had a day off in Charlotte, South Carolina, where Gary now lives. Gary is still active in the Air Force.
The two were just catching up together when they got the news. They believe, somehow, it was Karl’s doing.