The Florida double murderer who scrawled “KILLER” on his false teeth before being sentenced to death Monday callously taunted the victim’s grieving mother at trial — even claiming they had sex at one point.
“He is remorseless,” Jan Cornell told The Post Tuesday. “He is evil. There are no feelings there. He’s just blank.”
Joseph Zieler, 61, brutally raped and murdered Robin Cornell, 11, and Lisa Story, 32, after sneaking into a Cape Coral condominium in 1990 as the pair slept.
Jan Cornell had gone to her boyfriend’s house the night of the murders and left Story babysitting. She returned the next day to find them both dead.
The case went cold for nearly three decades before Zieler was arrested on an unrelated matter in 2016 and had to give a DNA sample which tied him to the crime scene.
At trial, Zieler testified that his DNA was present because he had had sex with Jan Cornell several months before the slayings.
When prosecutors noted such material would not have been detectable that long after the alleged encounter, Zieler called the victim’s mother a “pig” who never washed her sheets.
Cornell said she had never even met her daughter’s killer before the slayings and was disgusted by his outrageous claims.
She also said she she and others at the trial were taken aback by Zieler’s sick veneers stunt, where he showed up on the eve of trial with what appeared to be an ill-fitting tooth covering. On it he had used some sort of permanent marker to scrawl KILLER onto the veneers, visible when he opened his mouth.
Cornell said it was especially noticeable as his teeth were rotten throughout the rest of the trial.
After his arrest, Zieler — who beat then suffocated his victims — sent Cornell three letters threatening retribution if she did not impede the investigation into the murders. He is still facing a tampering with a witness charge over those letters.
On the day of his sentencing Monday, with Cornell looking on from the gallery, Zieler suddenly clubbed his attorney with an elbow and had to be wrestled with the ground.
“That was shocking,’ Cornell said. “I know he’s capable of anything, but that was unbelievable.”
Zieler, she said, carried himself with a pitiless arrogance throughout the trial, often locking eyes with her from the defense table and while on the stand.
“I would look right back,” she said defiantly. “I was there for everything in court, every step of the way.”
Despite the passage of nearly 30 years, Cornell, said she never relinquished hope the unknown ghoul who killed her daughter and her close friend would one day be captured.
“I always told the detectives,” she said. “I know he’s alive and I know he lives nearby. I could just feel it. When they came to my door after 26 years and said they had a DNA match I just said “Oh my God” over and over again for 45 minutes. I knew justice would come.”
In the days after her daughter’s death, Cornell, who retired from the medical industry in 2018, said she wanted a cremation so that she could always remain physically close to Robin.
But she was advised to keep the body intact for potential forensic needs down the road and eventually opted for a crypt.
Finally, in 2010, investigators told her that the body would no longer serve any investigatory purpose and Cornell had Robin cremated.
She returned home Monday after Zieler was sentenced to death and solemnly approached the urn containing her daughter’s ashes atop a mantle.
“I told Robin that it’s over,” she said. “You can rest now.”