In August of 2019, Ralph Bortree was identified as the lead suspect in a series of violent rapes in Sidney and Logan County, Ohio.
On July 31, 1993, a 19-year-old woman was forced off the road by another vehicle in Logan County, Ohio. She was kidnapped at gunpoint, raped, beaten, and her throat slashed several times. She was left for dead in the ditch, but she survived and was able to make it to a nearby home for assistance. Semen was recovered from the shirt she was wearing, and a DNA profile of the suspect was obtained.
This DNA profile was linked to three other sexual assaults. On May 23, 1992, a 19-year-old woman was walking home alone in Shelby County when she was abducted at gunpoint and raped.
On July 22, 1993, a 16-year-old girl was abducted from her vehicle at gun point; the assailant then attempted to rape her, and she fled.
On May 24, 1995, a 20-year-old woman was abducted from her car at gun point, and she managed to struggle and get free.
In 2019, investigators engaged Advance DNA to conduct the FGG investigation. Advance DNA identified three brothers, one of whom was serving a life sentence for sexual assault at the time. Detectives then investigated the remaining two brothers. Police made the initial confirmation to Bortree from the surreptitious sampling of a cigarette he had discarded near his workplace.
The statute of limitations has run out on the kidnapping and sexual assault charges. Bortree was indicted on the 1993 charge of attempted aggravated murder. He was convicted of this charge in November of 2020 after a four-day jury trial. The jury reached a guilty verdict after deliberating for only one hour.
Judge David Faulkner rejected the defendant’s arguments that the length of time the case had been open had violated his rights to mount an adequate defence, as well as his arguments that the surreptitious sampling of the cigarette butt violated his Fourth Amendment rights.
Bortree appealed that decision. The matter was heard by the Supreme Court of Ohio in June of 2022. In November of 2022, they found that the law in force in Ohio at that time did indeed bar a prosecution for attempted aggravated murder under R.C. 2923.02(A) after a 6-year statute of limitations. They vacated Bortree’s conviction and his 11-year sentence.
Associated Press. “Judge Rejects Efforts to Toss Bortree Attempted Case.” Bellefontaine Examiner, August 15, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.examiner.org/judge-rejects-effort-to-toss-bortree-attempted-case/.
Bellefontaine Examiner Staff. “Bortree Found Guilty of Attempted Aggravated Murder.” Bellefontaine Examiner, November 6, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.examiner.org/bortree-found-guilty-of-attempted-aggravated-murder/.
Court News Ohio. “Man Caught 26 Years Later Through DNA Search of Family Tree Contests Conviction.” Einnews, June 7, 2022. Accessed June 17, 2022. https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/575795257/man-caught-26-years-later-through-dna-search-of-family-tree-contests-conviction.
Tipple, Bill. “Cold Case Ends with Attempted Aggravated Murder Investigation.” Peak of Ohio News, November 6, 2020. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.peakofohio.com/news/details.cfm?clientid=5&id=313685#.X6V9GEi4AuI.facebook.
Tipple, Bill. “DNA Helped Solve 1993 Rape Case; County Man Indicted.” Peak of Ohio, August 20, 2019. Accessed December 11, 2020. https://www.peakofohio.com/news/details.cfm?clientid=5&id=289444.
Trevas, Dan. “Attempted Murder Conviction Vacated; Statute of Limitations Expired.” Court News Ohio, November 3, 2022. Accessed November 5, 2022. https://www.courtnewsohio.gov/cases/2022/SCO/1103/211254.asp#.Y2bk8VLMJQK.