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Leon Bibb Reports: Lorain County author examines old cold cases

Don Hilton is looking to tell the stories of old Lorain County murders.

OBERLIN, Ohio — The headline screams murder, but the reader's attention heightens when the murder is mysterious and unsolved. 

You're now in the world of an author who lives for the murders and mysteries in Lorain County, but only those long, long ago.

"I sometimes lament the fact that I wasn't born earlier," says Don Hilton.

So a history-minded, bookish man from his Oberlin home delves into the past and into the mysterious shadows of Lorain County between 1824 to 1956.

Don Hilton is not a detective, but a retired geologist - turned storyteller, who follows mostly forgotten murders, which were peppered with intrigue of 'whodunit.'

A book-writing bloodhound who cannot let unsolved murder cases go. He penned Murders, Mysteries, and History of Lorain County, Ohio 1824 to 1956.

"The thing that is a constant surprise to me is how little people change," says Hilton. 

And that's your clue: Murders then, murders now. 

Hilton insists criminals are the same, no matter where or when.

Why Lorain County? It's home. 

His wife looks over his shoulder as he peruses faded newspaper accounts of 80, or 90, or more years ago. In the old print, Don uncovers a common theme running through the underbelly of humanity.

"10,000 years ago, people were killing each other for the same reason we kill each other for now," he explains.

This spring, Don Hilton will lead tours already sold out to forgotten Lorain County murder scenes where he will mouth what happened. 

Hilton believes whether people admit it, stories of strange murders even generations ago, can hold interest. Americans love it. That's why TV cop shows pull in big ratings. 

The old saying: If walls could talk, what mysterious goings-on have these old Lorain County buildings seen generations ago. In their shadows and in the dark recesses of other areas, crimes were committed. 

Through the generations, people have not really changed that much. Crimes that take place today are much the same as crimes that took place yesteryear. What has changed is the technology and the reporting of the investigation. 

So Hilton's book is not only the story about how many people were, but also the way many people still are. 

"It's lust, greed, jealousy, vanity," he says. "It's why they're called the deadly sins."

So if you think HIlton is one of those hard-boiled cops following the scent of an unsolved murder, you've got it all wrong. Just a bookish man who writes about life, death, and often about the one who got away. 

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