Ohio authorities stated new DNA expertise helped them resolve the 1978 cold-case killing of a College of Cincinnati scholar. Prosecutors say the suspect, who they’ve linked to 3 different killings round that point, was indicted Thursday — greater than three a long time after his personal loss of life.
Ralph Howell, of Roselawn, was posthumously indicted Thursday on fees of aggravated homicide and rape, based on the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Workplace. He died in an vehicle crash in 1985, by no means being charged in any of the circumstances.
He was indicted Thursday within the 44-year-old chilly case of Cheryl Thompson, a College of Cincinnati scholar whose physique was discovered alongside a riverbank in southwestern Ohio.
Thompson went lacking on March 24, 1978, after leaving her house on Wooster Pike, based on the Ohio lawyer common’s workplace. Information studies on the time stated she was supposed to satisfy her boyfriend. She by no means confirmed up.
Two weeks later, an Ohio Division of Pure Sources worker discovered Thompson’s physique close to a river in Loveland, a metropolis simply northeast of Cincinnati, The Enquirer reported. The coroner dominated her loss of life a murder by way of strangulation and blunt drive trauma. It was additionally decided that she had been raped, prosecutors stated.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters stated a rape equipment was collected from Thompson’s physique and saved on the Hamilton County Coroner’s Workplace. He stated the forensic limitations of the time prevented regulation enforcement from gathering any leads from that proof.
Prosecutors stated the DNA pattern taken from Thompson’s physique was despatched this yr to a third-party family tree firm, which narrowed the outcomes all the way down to a easy household tree.
Howell’s cousin, brother and uncle agreed to bear DNA testing, Deters stated, including all have been excluded as suspects, although they relayed to investigators that Howell had died within the Eighties.
This previous summer season, investigators exhumed Howell’s physique, which was interred at Relaxation Haven Memorial Park in Evendale, to acquire DNA proof, prosecutors stated. His jaw bone was eliminated, and the DNA recovered from his corpse matched the DNA recovered from Thompson’s physique, Deters stated.
The Loveland Police Division and Ohio Bureau of Legal Investigation continued investigating Thompson’s loss of life a long time after she was killed.
Renewed curiosity in Thompson’s case lured investigators to a not too long ago fashioned chilly case unit by means of the BCI, Loveland Detective Steve Moster informed The Enquirer in 2020.
‘Ralph Howell was a serial killer:’ Prosecutors tie him to 3 different killings
Prosecutors stated Howell is regarded as concerned within the deaths of three different ladies in Ohio’s Hamilton and Butler counties between 1976 and 1978, based mostly on the same circumstances surrounding these killings.
These ladies are:
- Charmaine Stolla, 17. She was final seen at 1208 Dewey Avenue in Cincinnati on Feb. 24, 1978. Her physique was discovered on March 12, 1978 alongside Outdated Colerain Pike.
- Nancy Ann Theobald, 18. She was final seen leaving her job at an Arby’s restaurant in Clifton on Nov. 16, 1977. Her physique was discovered on Dec. 26, 1977 on Becket Street in Butler County.
- Victoria Hincher, 24. She was final seen leaving her house at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 20, 1976. Her physique was discovered 11 days in a while New London Street in Butler County.
Prosecutors say all three ladies have been strangled and raped. Investigators shouldn’t have DNA from any of those killings, Deters stated.
“There isn’t any doubt in our thoughts that Ralph Howell was a serial killer,” Deters stated.
Suspect beforehand arrested in 1983 after failed abduction
Howell was arrested in 1983 on fees of abduction, the prosecutor’s workplace stated in a launch.
In that incident, based on prosecutors, Howell stopped a girl on the facet of the street in a truck containing newspapers and supplied to drive her house. Howell was a supply driver for The Enquirer on the time, Deters stated.
In accordance with court docket transcripts, the girl stated she was stopped by Howell in Cincinnati’s California neighborhood. He was driving a black and white camper truck. She stated Howell requested her thrice to get into the truck, including that she refused twice however entered the truck the third time he requested.
The lady stated Howell informed her his identify was Jim Miller.
“I am not no animal, . I am not going to harm you. I am going your means. I will offer you a trip,” she recalled Howell telling her, based on the testimony.
As soon as the girl was inside his automobile, Howell positioned a rope round her neck and started to strangle her, the prosecutor’s workplace stated. He informed the girl he wished to have intercourse together with her. She was in a position to battle him off and escape, prosecutors stated.
She kicked the truck’s door open and tried to leap out, however he caught her by the coat and shirt, the girl testified. He made the truck swerve in an try and make the door shut once more, she stated.
“All I need to do is make like to you,” the girl recalled Howell saying.
“You are going to must kill me first,” she replied. “You are not going to the touch me.”
She stated Howell then apologized, saying he’d “by no means completed this earlier than.”
The lady stated she requested if Howell was married. “Sure,” he answered, based on the testimony.
She requested if he would need somebody to do the identical factor to his spouse, to which he answered “no,” the girl testified.
In accordance with the testimony, the girl stated Howell then tried to put his head down on her lap as she tried scooting out of the truck.
She stated Howell then let her get out and pulled away.
Courtroom data present Howell pleaded responsible to a lesser cost of illegal restraint, a misdemeanor.