Judge finds corpse abuser guilty

Posted by Trina Kinstler - email

CINCINNATI (FOX19) -- Kenneth Douglas, the former morgue worker accused of sexually assaulting a corpse 26 years ago, was found guilty in court on Thursday.

Douglas pled no contest to a charge of gross abuse of corpse. Judge William Mallory then found him guilty.

He faces up to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 30.

Prosecuting attorney Mark Piepmeier says Douglas confessed to the crime during an interview. Piepmeier also said Douglas abused "3 or 4" corpses. Piepmeier said several of the samples from the coroner's office are no longer available, but if the prosecution can prove there were more victims, more charges could be added

Douglas' attorney, Norm Aubin, said Douglas pled no contest so he could appeal the case later.

Douglas is accused of sexually assaulting the corpse of Karen Range.

Range was 19-years-old when she was murdered in August of 1982. David Steffen was selling home cleaning products door-to-door in Roselawn when he entered Range's home and murdered her after she resisted his attempts to sexually assault her.

Steffen admitted to the crime and was sentenced to death in May of 1983 on charges of aggravated burglary and purposeful killing during a rape or attempted rape.

Late last year, the Ohio Attorney General's Office decided to test fluid found in Range's body. The fluid did not belong to Steffen or Range's fiance. The sample was placed in the national CODIS database.

Steffen's case has been under appeal. Steffen admitted to stabbing Range, but always denied raping her. His attorneys now say he shouldn't be eligible for the death penalty because prosecutors can't prove he raped Range. In Ohio, defendants can only be executed if they are convicted of murder and another violent crime. Prosecutors say attempted rape is still enough to warrant the death penalty.

On Thursday, July 24, 2008 Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation alerted the Hamilton County Prosecutors Office that there was a hit in CODIS with the sample taken from Range.

The donor was identified as Douglas. He was arrested July 25, 2008 on an outstanding probation violation. His DNA was taken following drug trafficking charges in March of this year.

Deters says Douglas was a 16-year-employee of the coroner's office, working there from 1976 until 1992.