KILLER JUDGE: An Unimaginable Tragedy The True Story of Judge John Cleland’s Illegal Order to Withhold
Food and Water from Mrs. Dorothy Jacobus, a Nursing Home Resident and Ward of the State.
Part 1: 1991: The Secret Connection. Incestuous Rural Justice
1. The Lutheran Home at Kane, is a long term care facility in Kane, PA. (pop. of Kane: app 5,000)
2. The High Point Corporation of Kane, owns The Lutheran Home. This structure is a well guarded secret.
3. Judge John Cleland (Jocko) sits on the Board of High Point. Cleland co-owns The Home.
4. Cleland is the only judge in rural McKean County--an isolated, provincial area in the Appalachian Mts. Of N.W. PA.
5. High Point plans expansion to the facility, to increase revenue for owners. (An Alzheimer’s wing).
6. High Point applies to Federal & State agencies for approval and funding.
7. However, government will only approve expansion and funding contracts to facilities that are free of complaints.
8. High Point’s requests are denied due to complaints of substandard care and abuse to numerous residents.
9. Expansion is delayed. High Point suffers financial crisis. For over 6 years, owners lose money.
Part 2: 1991: Desperation on All Sides
1. Mrs. Dorothy Jacobus (Dotty) also of Kane, enters the Lutheran Home as a fully ambulatory, highly interactive
person. Records show that she is healthy, not terminally ill. Records also show that she is a ward of the state.
2. Judges are required by law to protect a ward’s right to life, regardless of age, diagnosis or family wishes. A judge
may not harm, or allow others to harm, a ward. Judges, not family, have final authority in all major decisions
that concern the ward. No exceptions. No ambiguities.
3. Dotty’s husband, former WW II counter spy & renowned criminal defense lawyer, Philip Jacobus, Sr., is her legal
co-guardian. A sister in law by marriage, Greta Jacobus (not close to the ward) is also co-guardian.
4. Cleland’s friendship with both guardians is well known. Moreover, Jacobus mentored Cleland’s career. When a
county bench vacated, Jacobus’ expertise seated, and later helped elect, Cleland, an unknown, novice lawyer.
5. Atty. Jacobus had placed Dotty in The Home against her will. However, for 7 years, while he was alive, so was
Dotty. (Average resident lives 6 mos). Cleland routinely ignored the law in Dotty’s case in order to avoid conflict
with Jacobus--a formidable legal activist and political power broker, who traded fees for home made pies.
(Note: For years, Cleland aspired to a higher court. Conflict and bad press would derail that dream.)
6. Dotty’s’ family, friends & several staff members, file complaints against the facility, citing documented abuse to her.
7. Complaints are filed with the PA Health Department, Division of Long Term Care in PA’s capitol. Investigations
follow. During investigations abuses to other residents surface. The process continues for years.
8. Dotty’s daughter and physician husband try to take Dotty to their home. Dotty prefers to live with them. Cleland
uses a loophole to block their effort: Legally, spouses have more say than children.
9. Each time Dotty’s friends and family report abuse to her, investigators uncover abuse, substandard care and
deficiency violations against other residents. On that basis, gov’t denies High Point’s requests.
10. Cleland and other owners continue to lose more money. Financial desperation mounts.
Part 3: Only a Monster Starves a Human Being to Death without Water. This Monster is a Judge.
1. For 7 years, Cleland, eager to fill any vacant seat, on any higher court, used his position of public trust to advance
personal goals: end complaints, clear the way for expansion & increase financial gain for himself and other owners.
2. He is obligated to recuse based on triple conflict of interest. he refuses. (His recusal is noted in other local cases).
3. For 7 yrs, Cleland’s biased, superficial, rash analysis leads to a series of grave errors, which will come into play later
in his career. His worst error emerges in 98. Based on his subsequent actions it can only be concluded that he
targets Dotty as the source of complaints & decides to eliminate her. However, her powerful husband is still alive.
4. Atty. Jacobus dies under suspicious circumstances. (Many people suspect poisoning. Extensive behavioral evi-
dence supports their suspicion. By now, Cleland has cultivated a new political ally, Joe Scarnatti, Pres. ProTem,
PA Senate. Jacobus, no longer vital to Cleland’s career, is now a liability to High Point and the facility).
5. Soon after, during a flu epidemic, Dotty is taken from The Home to several medical offices, & becomes ill with the flu.
6. With Jacobus dead, and Dotty seriously ill with the flu, Cleland orchestrates murder. (See details, attached.)
7. Dotty’s blood relatives: a sister (retired health care advocate) and daughter (former atty. & Peace Corps Volunteer,
now filmmaker and philanthropist) try to take her from the facility, to her daughter’s home. Cleland blocks the effort,
then proceeds with the plan to deprive Dotty of food & water.
8. He recognizes his tenuous position & attempts to lend the appearance of legality to his murder scheme. He devises
a cover up. He manipulates a US Supreme Court law that allows food & water to be withdrawn from human beings.
Part 4: The Emergency Hearing. Cleland Ignores the Rule of Law. A Reporter Covers the Hearing.
1. Dotty’s sister & daughter uncover the plot. They contact 37 gov’t agencies for assistance (incl. then Gov Tom Ridge)
to no avail. Their lawyer files Emergency petitions compelling Cleland to follow the US Supreme Ct. law.
2. An 8 hr. Emergency hearing follows. After a 12 min. recess Cleland delivers a decision. He ignores the rule of law
& refuses to protect his ward. It is impossible to review an 8 hr. hearing in 12 min. Clearly, Cleland’s decision was
In place prior to hearing. The hearing is a ruse designed to deceive onlookers into thinking his illegal order is legal.
3. Cleland expects others to be unaware of the law: Judges must protect their wards. Instead Cleland protects High
Point’s financial interests, then states to reporter Chuck Hayes: Food & water can only be restored in an Emergency.
4. Emergency petitions were filed. Cleland held an Emergency hearing. Cleland knew this case was an Emergency.
5. Dotty’s family immediately directs Scot Hare, Atty, to file supercedeas writs suspending Cleland’s judgment pend-
ing valid medical evaluation. After discussion with Cleland, Hare stalls. Yet Cleland informs reporters that he can
not comment “because the case is under appeal”. Dotty lived 5 more days, had Hare filed she would have survived.
Part 5: Cleland Entangles Himself In Contradictions, Implicating Himself And Others in Murder.
1. When townspeople question Cleland’s order, he cites “orders” left by Atty Jacobus: If he predeceased Dotty, she
wouldn't want to live without him & should not receive food--in the event of illness. Cleland claims he “followed
those orders”. Another ruse. Judges do not take orders from family-no matter how powerful; Jacobus had been dead
for 2 mos; death orders are illegal; wards are protected by law; law decides a ward’s fate not family; judges must
follow the law. The list of ethical, logical & legal contradictions to Cleland’s premise is long.
2. For 7 yrs, Atty. Jacobus follows the law and protects Dotty’s right to food. Further, his will provides a sizeable self
sustaining fund for her lifetime care--evidence that he had not “left orders” to deprive her of food, as Cleland claims
3. Cleland acted out of self interest, not loyalty to, or fear of retaliation from, a man who is no longer alive. Had such
orders in fact existed (no evidence supports the accusation) it is impossible for reasonable people to accept Cleland’s
absurd claim that he, or any judge, could even consider the idea of following (illegal) orders from dead men.
4. Cleland did not act in a vacuum. Greta Jacobus (non blood relative & surviving guardian) assisted the order’s execu-
tion. Others are implicated: Linda Carlson, Adm. & board member; Catherine Guillespie, facility atty, & specialist
in nursing home law; Fred Gallup, Scot Hare, attys; staff; owners; clergy; gov’t agents; lawyers; doctors; therapists,
coroners, postal workers, police. Chief Yogi Osmer (whose daughter Sarah studied art with Dotty & her daughter)
ordered police to ignore valid 911 calls from doctors who tried to help Dotty in her last week.
5. Had Cleland’s order been legal he could have explained, “I followed the law”. Since that option is unavailable, he
(again) resorts to manipulation, further entangling himself, further implicating himself and others in murder.
6. Cleland orchestrates murder, then blames a dead man who is not present to defend himself.
** THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURDER AND MANSLAUGHTER IS INTENT. Cleland and other co conspirators
planned Dotty’s death. That Shows Intent.
Cleland’s illegal order is documented on the public record, McKean Co. Courthouse, Smethport, PA. Other documents signed by Cleland,
Hippolito, facility staff, police, others. No evidence supports their claim of following Jacobus’ orders. Jacobus’ signature does not appear on any
public record in the 7 yr. history of this case. Hearings, status conferences, etc., documented via cell fone, film or tape, by Dotty’s daughter or her
associates. Independent eyewitness accounts & correspondence included in a book. Cleland filed his first written order 5 days after his verbal
order, 6 hrs. after Dotty’s death. That order was removed from the file & replaced by a second, unofficial order in 2007. Investigators are not
deceived, family copied the original order.
You Reveal Who You Are Through the Choices You Make.
People ask, Why kill Dotty? Why not let her live with her child? Cleland was desperate to protect himself. For 7 yrs. he
refused to protect his ward’s medical & legal rights. With Atty Jacobus dead, lawsuits are imminent as long as Dotty is alive.
Cleland offers to protect others, then uses that pretense to protect himself. With his future at risk, he relies on obscure law:
Peoples’ rights die with them, except in murder cases. Hence the cover up. Had Cleland devoted the same effort to saving Dotty
as killing her, he would have been a hero and she would have danced out of The Home.