Woman says she is ready to turn life around

LISBON – A Poland woman who said she does not remember breaking into the home of 78-year-old Joe DaLonzo last September, will spend the next six months at the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center.

Jessica Jewell, 30, was sentenced last week in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

She pleaded guilty in January to burglary, which was amended from an aggravated burglary. She had been found in DaLonzo’s basement with a knife in her possession after ransacking it. While packing several items to steal, she passed out.

DaLonzo called Wellsville police to report a possible dead body in a closet in his basement.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart said while DaLonzo did not wish to speak, he was present in the courtroom and wanted Weikart to convey his hopes the court would not take the matter lightly.

Jewell told Judge Scott Washam she was “sickened and horrified” by what she had done. “I’m even more scared that I can’t remember it.”

“Mr. DaLonzo and his family will never know how sorry I am,” she said, adding she prays for them daily.

Jewell’s aunt and mother both gave statements. Her mother also read a letter from the father of one of Jewell’s four children. Each spoke of a woman, who one had a lot of potential and someone who graduated in the top 30 of her class of 200 students at Salem High School. With dreams of becoming a lawyer, Jewell reportedly attended four years at Ohio State University.

“She was an overachiever,” said her aunt, Dawn Leatherbury. “Somewhere she crashed.”

Leatherbury went on to say she knew another family member who went to the EOCC and believes in the programs there, noting it gave her the tools she needed to face life without substance abuse.

“I believe I can help other people,” Jewell said. “I have goals for my life and my family. I made a huge mistake and I ask for the opportunity to get some help.”

Washam questioned why she did not seek help when she had previous charges of petty theft in 2010, theft in 2013 and resisting arrest in 2013. Jewell responded she wished she had been ready at that time to seek help.

“You violated a man’s home,” Washam noted. “It’s lucky that you’re not dead.”

She was taken into custody immediately and will be transported from the county jail to the EOCC in Lisbon today. Following her six months there she will have an additional three-and-a-half-year term of probation.

Jewell was also ordered to pay $500 in restitution to DaLonzo.

Washam noted this may be Jewell’s last chance at getting the help she needs, adding he reserves the right to sentence her to eight years in prison if she does not succeed on probation.