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Man sentenced for 1989 kidnapping of Hamilton County judge’s wife, daughter set for parole hearing

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The man sentenced for aggravated robbery and kidnapping in 1989 has an upcoming parole hearing, and the victims’ family does not want him on the streets ever again.

Francis Smith has spent several decades locked up at the Warren Correctional Institution after he was convicted of committing the crimes on May 17, 1989.

It was on that day in 1989 when Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman’s wife, Mary, and five-month-old daughter went to Western Hills Photo and Hobby.

Mary did not know Smith had been following for hours, the judge recalls.

She got out of the car once she got to Western Hills Photo and Hobby, and when she returned, Smith was inside, Ruehlman said.

“When she got in the car, he came up from behind and hit her over the head with a gun, choked her, and told her to drive,” Ruehlman said.

Mary did what the armed Smith commanded and drove.

Ruehlman says his wife knew she had to do something to keep herself and their daughter alive.

“She realized she had to get away,” said Ruehlman. “He actually cocked the gun single action and put it at my daughter’s stomach. She was only five months old at the time, and that’s when my wife grabbed her and dove out of the car.”

Smith was convicted and sentenced a few months after the crimes.

Come August, he will be up for a parole hearing.

The Ruehlman family plans to oppose Smith’s release.

“I hope he’s in prison when he dies,” said Ruehlman. “I don’t want him out alive because he’s dangerous, and he’ll do it to someone else.”

Judge Ruehlman says his wife is doing well, and his then 5-month-old daughter now has a family of her own.

If you would like to send the Parole Board a letter about Smith, click here.

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