YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In November, CBS News aired a 48 Hours special detailing the murder of U.S. Air Force Major Karl Hoerig and his wife’s subsequent travels to Brazil. Less than two months later, Claudia Hoerig now sits in Trumbull County Jail, charged with killing her husband, after spending the past 11 years in her native country.
Even though Karl’s murder and the investigation that followed happened in 2007, it’s attracted a lot of media attention.
CBS Correspondent Erin Moriarty and her team at 48 Hours spent two years researching the case. Along with Karl’s brother, Paul, they made the trip down to Brazil, looking for answers.
Now — after over a decade — Claudia is finally back on U.S. soil.
“Caught off guard, surprised and yet gratified because this is a long time coming,” Erin said.
She said this is the first time a Brazilian-born citizen has ever been extradited.
“That’s a big deal.”
When 48 Hours was in Brazil, they wanted to know why Claudia wasn’t being sent back. Brazil’s government responded with a bigger question.
“‘Would she get the death penalty?’ They would not have extradited her if this was a death penalty case,” Erin said.
During her time in South America, Erin discovered just what Claudia had been doing the past 11 years.
“Running her own accounting business, I saw it. She had a home, she got remarried. She had gone on as if nothing had ever happened,” Erin said.
Eventually, Claudia was arrested after Brazil revoked her citizenship. She’d given it up when she became a U.S. citizen.
Claudia has spent the last year and a half in a Brazilian jail. Erin said Claudia may have had plans to take action that would have kept her there.
“There was a rumor going around the prison that Claudia Hoerig was so determined not to be extradited that she might hurt another inmate, do anything so that she would stay in Brazil.”
Karl’s friends said they were thankful that Erin and 48 Hours put this story in the national spotlight.
Even though Claudia is back in Trumbull County less than two months after her report aired, Erin wouldn’t credit herself or the story with having an impact. Instead, she says it was Karl Hoerig’s family — especially Paul — and the friends and people who never forgot.
“If our piece had any part, it’s because [Trumbull County Prosecutor] Dennis Watkins, Karl’s friends, John Boccieri, Tim Ryan, all of the individuals were willing to put everything aside to speak for Karl Hoerig.”