Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced the indictment of Ralph Howell for the rape and murder of Cheryl Thompson in 1978.
Howell was killed in an automobile accident in 1985.
Howell was posthumously indicted for one count of Aggravated Murder, and one count of Rape.
On March 24, 1978, Cheryl Thompson went missing after leaving her home to meet her boyfriend at a bar in Oakley.
On April 8, 1978, Thompson’s body was discovered along the bank of the Little Miami River by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer. Thompson’s cause of death was asphyxia caused by strangulation. It was also determined Thompson had been raped.
Physical evidence was collected from Thompson’s body and stored at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office. However, due to the forensic limitations of the time, the investigation quickly went cold. Loveland police officers and agents at the Bureau of Criminal Investigations never stopped investigating.
This year, the DNA sample taken from Thompson’s body was sent to a third-party genealogy company in hopes of developing a suspect. The results narrowed this DNA sample to a specific family tree. Ralph Howell was included in these results.
Further investigation showed Howell was arrested in 1983 for abduction. In that incident, Howell picked a woman up on the side of the road and offered to drive her home. Once in the vehicle, Howell placed a rope around the victim’s neck and began to strangle her. He told her he wanted to have sex with her. The victim was able to fight Howell off and escape from the vehicle.