A truly bizarre case has been docketed in Cincinnati where Ohio citizens (and family members of a victim) are having to revisit one of the state’s most heinous murders. Kenneth Douglas, 55, has been charged with sexual assault of a corpse in 1982 when he worked as a morgue attendant. He was discovered through DNA evidence in an obviously disgusting case but one that raises some pretty difficult legal questions. It is also a case where police assumed that the man who murdered Karen Range must have been the same person who raped her but the evidence did not match his blood type. It turned out far worse than they imagined.
The story itself is incredibly disturbing. The victim, 19-year-old Karen Range was murdered during an attempted rape Aug. 19, 1982 at her home during which she
was severely beaten and had her throat slashed with a paring knife.
David Steffen (pictured with the glasses) was sentenced to death in 1983 for her murder, but his attorneys insisted that he never did rape her — an important element in a death penalty case. The police could not match the semen found on the body with Steffen.
Then, a year ago, Douglas was convicted of drug trafficking and ordered to provide a DNA sample. It was a match in the computer and police later discovered that Douglas worked as a morgue attendant when Range’s body had been at the lab for testing. They suspect him of other such despicable crimes. He could get 12 months in prison. That seems a bit light for such a heinous crime.
Recently, another court ruled that assaulting a corpse can be rape despite that fact that the victim is not legally a person in many legal respects after death, click here.
Steffen is still on death row. He is likely to remain there since there is still the attempted rape and the murder for which he was sentenced in Ohio. The re-opening of this case must be a nightmare for the Range family, though I would want justice done in the case.
For the full story, click here.