Albany Marine shocked he was targeted for murder - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Marine shocked he was targeted for murder

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An Albany Marine was apparently targeted for murder.

Police in Ohio say a relative of Sgt. James Eppler's wife tried to hire a hit man to kill him.

Now the Marine is police protection at his Ohio home because Police are not sure if she hired other hit men.

You will remember 25 year Sgt. Eppler, who spent three months in jail charged with murdering his 23 year old wife Natalie, but then was cleared when her death was ruled a suicide. At his home in Lorain Ohio, Eppler said he was shocked to learn that Natalie's aunt tried to hire a hit

53 year old Irene Wlaszyn, the aunt of Natalie Eppler, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Lorain, Ohio Police say she wanted to kill Sgt. James Eppler while he was home on leave in Lorain, because she is convinced he killed Natalie. Over the phone Eppler and his mother told me they think Albany Police's quickness to charge him in February led in part to this murder for hire targeting.

Sgt. James Eppler said "Natalie's family was told that I murdered her before I was even questioned. Her family called my family."

 James Eppler's mother Darlene Eppler said "I don't think they wanted to accept it. We knew they probably would say stuff on line, or something, but nothing like this."

Eppler, who is home in Ohio on leave, is under Police protection tonight. Police say the man Wlaszyn tried to hire to kill Eppler came to them instead. Eppler said he doesn't think his life is in danger.

 Eppler said "No, I wouldn't say that. I've got too many friends and family. I've got God watching over me. If he wasn't, this could have ended differently."

Eppler's mother said James doesn't even know where his wife is buried.....he lost his home to foreclosure while in jail. Natalie's family took all his possessions from the home. He said being back in Ohio with his family has helped, but now he knows his wife's death is not over.

 Eppler said "I was hoping, but I guess not." Do you think it will ever be over? "I would hope so." How have you been doing? "Taking one day at a time."

Eppler said he misses his wife during this four month long nightmare, but one thing he is sure of, he is not quitting the Marines.

Eppler said "Absolutely not. They stuck behind me the entire time."

Eppler said he would return to duty in Albany in the future, but did not want to say when, because of the continuing threat on his life.

Eppler told me he has been receiving counseling since his return to Ohio. The Albany Marine base had no comment on the new events.

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards told us  that Natalie Eppler's family knew about ongoing problems in the Epplers' marriage and they claimed that was the source of their animosity toward Sgt. Eppler.

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