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Investigation Underway in Ohio Necrophilia Case

Posted Oct 02 2008 6:15pm

A former employee of the Hamilton County Coroner's Office in Cincinnati, Ohio has been indicted for allegedly abusing the corpse of a 1982 murder victim. Prosecutor Joe Deters says 54 year-old Kenneth Douglas was charged after his DNA matched semen taken from a victim's body. He had worked at the coroner's office from 1976 to 1992. Douglas remains jailed under a $700,000 cash bond on one charge of gross abuse of a corpse. He's alleged to have sexually abused the body of murder victim 19-year old Karen Range while he worked as an a morgue attendant. Both Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Hamilton County Coroner Dr. O'dell Owens say they have no explanation why anyone would commit such a crime.

The charge emerged following an analysis of semen taken from Range's body at the insistence of the attorneys of the man convicted of her murder. David Steffen was convicted in 1983 and is currently on Ohio's death row. Physical evidence had never been able to determine who had sexually assaulted her and had ruled out Steffen and Range's fiance. Steffen's attorneys had been arguing that he deserved a new trial because of the mystery surrounding the fluid.

Prosecutors now believe that Douglas had assaulted the corpse in the morgue before an autopsy could be held. Douglas' DNA was entered into a nationwide database on March 17, 2008 after being convicted of a drug trafficking offense. Prosecutors and the Coroner's office plan to review cases that Douglas handled to see if there are any others similar to the Range case. After leaving the Coroner's office in 1992, he later worked at a Cincinnati funeral home. The Coroner has been besieged by calls from concerned family members who have threatened litigation.

While Douglas is suspected of necrophilia, a formal psychiatric diagnosis has not been made. He faces twelve months in prison if convicted.

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