Did Cindy Marie Lesko’s Abusive Husband Get Away With Murder?

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Cindy Marie Lesko disappeared from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, on this day in 1994. A jury acquitted her husband of her murder in 2001, but some believe he got away with murder.


Nestled along Michigan’s Lake St. Clair lies the town of St. Clair Shores, a small community less than 20 miles northeast of Detroit. On the other side of the lake is Ontario, Canada.

Cindy Marie Lesko was born on December 8, 1963. She married Albert Andrew Lesko III in Detroit on March 22, 1986. They had two children, Alisha Yvonne and Albert Andrew IV.

The Lesko family resided at 21730 Evergreen Street in St. Clair Shores. Cindy was a nursing student at Macomb Community College and unhappy in her marriage.

She filed police reports against her husband in 1989 and 1992 but did not pursue charges. Cindy filed for divorce on May 20, 1994. According to the Detroit Free Press, she also alerted police on June 2, 1994, about drugs in their house, “prompting two raids and the confiscation of six pounds of marijuana.” 

At a divorce hearing on June 7, 1994, Cindy, 30, won temporary custody of the children pending the divorce, and the judge ordered Albert to pay $165 in child support. The judge also gave Cindy the house on Evergreen Street.

Divorce records showed that on July 26, 1992, police arrested Albert after Cindy said he had held a knife to her throat and told her, “He could kill her anytime he wanted to.” Cindy later stumbled into her father’s home with both eyes swollen shut, a front tooth knocked out, and her face bloodied. She finally pressed charges against her abusive husband.

Cindy could have testified against Albert in his drug trial if the divorce had been granted. The divorce settlement was scheduled for November 1, 1994, but Cindy vanished before the hearing.

The Disappearance of Cindy Marie Lesko

On Sunday, October 23, 1994, Cindy’s friend, Suzanne Wurfel, called Cindy at 10 p.m. after watching a comedy show, presumably to discuss it with Cindy, who had skipped the show to study for a nursing test. Cindy told Suzanne of her concern for her children, who were late returning from a trip to Comins with their father for the weekend. Albert’s parents lived in Comins, about 200 miles north of St. Clair Shores. A few minutes later, Cindy told Suzanne that she heard a vehicle pull into the driveway and assumed it was Albert returning with the children.

That was the last time Suzanne spoke to Cindy. When Suzanne discovered Cindy had not attended nursing classes the following day, she filed a missing person’s report, fearing something terrible had happened to Cindy. That day, Albert kept the children home from school.

A search for Cindy began from Macomb County to Oscoda County, with police digging up septic tanks, bringing in search dogs, and dispatching a dive team, Detroit Free Press reported.

Three days later, on October 26, 1994, police found Cindy’s red 1988 four-door Chevy Sprint near 7 Mile Road and Van Dyke in Detroit, roughly 15 miles from the Lesko home. Cindy’s purse was still inside. Her wallet and a handgun she carried were missing. Albert later admitted to driving Cindy’s car to where it was found, saying he did it out of spite following an argument with Cindy.

On November 1, 1994, Cindy failed to attend the divorce settlement hearing, and the judge awarded Albert custody of the children and the house. Albert was convicted on May 28, 1997, of domestic violence resulting from the July 1992 incident involving Cindy. He spent a measly one year in county jail and was placed on probation.

Motives to Kill

Albert had two motives to kill his wife.

  1. Cindy was granted temporary full custody of the children at the divorce hearing shortly before she vanished, and the judge awarded her the home. The judge likely would have given full custody to Cindy at the settlement hearing, but she conveniently disappeared before then.  
  2. Cindy was going to testify against Albert on the drug charge.

The Arrest and Trial of Albert Andrew Lesko III

It is unclear what occurred with the investigation between 1994 and early 2001. Investigators arrested Albert Andrew Lesko III on March 22, 2001, ironically his and Cindy’s 15th wedding anniversary, for his wife’s murder. Albert’s trial occurred in October of that year, with defense attorney Brian Legghio representing Albert.

The assistant prosecutor theorized that Lesko argued with Cindy and strangled her inside the home or on the front lawn on October 23, 1994. Albert then placed her body in the bed of his pickup truck and buried her somewhere off I-75. 

The prosecutors were confident they could win this trial. Seven weeks before, they won a guilty verdict in the trial of St. Clair Shores resident Robert Pann, accused of killing his girlfriend, Bernice Gray, in December 1991. Bernice’s body was never found. Cindy’s disappearance is eerily similar to Bernice’s.  

At Albert’s trial, a neighbor of the Leskos testified that she saw Albert and Cindy fighting, and Cindy called for help. Unfortunately, the woman did not call 911. 

Albert’s friend, Jeffrey Chojnowski, testified against Albert, saying Albert discussed having his wife killed three days before Cindy vanished. 

Albert complained to Jeffrey about marital problems and asked whether Jeffrey knew someone who could kill Albert’s wife. Jeffrey said he did not take Albert seriously but immediately went to the police after learning of Cindy’s disappearance. Legghio claimed Lesko’s love for his children was too strong, preventing him from hurting their mother. He also said Albert was not violent, which was a blatant lie.

Legghio accused Cindy of having an affair but did not present proof or have the alleged lover testify, and this “lover” never came forward.

Toward the end of the trial, Legghio requested the judge to admit a particular piece of evidence into the trial. Police took a call on October 30, 1994, from an anonymous caller who claimed she was a fellow nursing student of Cindy’s. The woman claimed she had seen the missing woman sitting in the front passenger seat of a car parked in front of a 7-Eleven convenience store at Harper and Shady Lane. Police could not track the woman down, and she never came forward. I’m shocked.

I think this woman knew Albert, and he had her call because why didn’t she ever come forward? Also, the police could have interviewed all nursing students, and I’m sure they did. Albert has a younger sister, so maybe she called. 

Cindy’s children, Alisha, then 17, and Albert IV, 15, testified at trial. Remember, they were only 8 and 5 when their mother vanished, and they were sleeping in their father’s pickup when he pulled into Cindy’s driveway on October 23, 1994. They claimed they did not hear a commotion and believed their mother left voluntarily and was alive somewhere. Gee, where did they get that info from? 

I once cared for a child around the age of the Lesko kids when their mother vanished. This child could sleep through anything. To test that theory, her brother, who played the trumpet in the school band, walked up to her as she napped on the couch and loudly played the instrument. She never woke up. I think the Lesko kids slept through the killing of their mother. And if Albert placed Cindy’s body in the truck bed, that would explain why the kids never saw it. And let’s not forget it was dark at the time.

Here’s the shocker and BS part of this case. The jury acquitted Albert of his wife’s murder on November 7, 2001, saying that because Cindy’s body was never found, there was no evidence proving she was dead or a crime had been committed. He is now in his 60s and still living in St. Clair Shores.

Albert Andrew Lesko III in court in 2001 and with his children, Alisha and Albert IV, after his acquittal that year.
(L) Albert Lesko III in March 2001 (R) Albert with the kids in November of that year following his acquittal

Sources

Good, Meaghan. “Cindy Marie Lesko.” The Charley Project. https://charleyproject.org/case/cindy-marie-lesko

May, Jeanne. “Police Investigate Woman’s Disappearance.” Detroit Free Press. October 29, 1994.

Schmitt, Ben. “Father’s Return is Bittersweet.” Detroit Free Press. November 19, 2001.

Schmitt, Ben. “Husband Charged in Wife’s ’94 Death.” Detroit Free Press. March 23, 2001. 

“Woman’s Disappearance Feared as a Homicide.” Detroit Free Press. October 27, 1994.

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I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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