With a population of 35,313 people, Lancaster, Ohio, the proud birthplace of many notable actors, authors, sports stars, and cartoonist was founded in 1800, and the famous merchant, trailblazer, pioneer and soldier, Ebenezer Zane incorporated it as a town in 1831. Like all cities, however, it was not immune to murder. In fact, Lancaster was the location of the worst murder of a child in the county’s history.
According to twenty-eight-year-old Christina Sims, she hesitated many times before turning in her older brother John Engle for the murder of his four-year-old son Christopher. Torn between her love for John, and Christopher, and doing what was right, the soft-spoken, slender blonde with dark-eyes, said she looked to Christ for guidance. After speaking with her minister, she made the devastating choice of walking into the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department on July 9, 1991.
Christina recalled that while trailing the short, young dispatcher down the dark hall, she recalled her first meeting with one-year-old Christopher, who was not yet able to stand on his own. It did not take the stay-at-home mom long to realize why the love-starved toddler was behind in his learning.
She described Christopher as her favorite nephew, and said, “All Christopher wanted was to be held and loved.” Christina explained that she occasionally visited her brother and sister-in- law, Edna Mae, and their growing brood. She described Christopher as “pitiful” and told how his siblings were mean to him, and hit him regularly. “All he wanted was to be loved and cuddled,” she said. When she visited the family in the summer of 1989, she asked where Christopher was. Christina claimed, her brother said the child had gone to live with his maternal grandmother in Columbus, but then he started to cry. He said Christopher was in a better place.
She recalled how mean the other children had been to Christopher. She explained that when the child tried pulling himself upright to walk, the other children would not allow him to stand. They jerked his arms and legs out from under him, making him fall. She said Edna Mae, ignored her pleas for the fragile, light-haired child, and her heart went out to him. She told the sheriff she wanted to hug the little boy forever. She wished she could have taken Christopher from that filthy, crowded trailer and never look back.
She described the portly sheriff sitting in his sweat-stained uniform talking on the telephone. His office was not much bigger then an average sized home bathroom, she recalled. It contained a large wooden desk, two hard-backed wooden chairs, one telephone, and an overhead ceiling light. The prison-like chamber had one small window, minus air. She watched the sheriff light a cigarette. After wiping sweat from his double chin, he asked her to explain the circumstances.
Fearing her brother’s reaction to her betrayal, Christina chose her words cautiously. She calmly told the lawman that her brother John Engle, who resided in Rushville, had confessed to killing his son, Christopher, and burning his remains in the back yard. She later recalled how light she felt once she had released her heinous secret.