The Long Walk Home: The Asenath Dukat Project
[The information contained on this site is not approved or connected to the City of Upper Arlington. Nobody has ever been charged with the murder of Asenath Dukat or the assualt on Canterbury Lane on May 7th, 1980. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.]
Through a partnership with the Upper Arlington Police Department, we have gained insight that will become discoverable upon the release of public records. The case is currently in inactive status. This does not prevent the UAPD from investigating new, actionable information if it is brought to their attention, however they are actively preparing the case files for public release.
Based on our investigation and discussion with the UAPD, Brent L. Strutner and Robert ‘Chris’ Winchester have enough circumstantial and scientific evidence, as well as a personal connection between them, to warrant a primary focus of the case moving forward.
The key to this case is making connections across the three abductions that occurred on May 7th, June 3rd and September 27th 1980. If you look at the timeline of events and witness statements, the UAPD investigators were often flummoxed by the conflicting descriptions provided by witnesses and the associated timelines as to where and when the suspects were seen. This is likely because the police were initially looking for a single perpetrator of these crimes, not two. For example if a witness saw Strutner at the scene and provided a description, it would conflict with a second witness who saw Winchester. As mentioned in the narrative, both Strutner and Winchester had very different height, weight and hairstyles. These witness conflicts could have potentially provided exculpatory evidence for each of the suspects at that time.
At the same time, as reported in earlier chapters, it is highly unlikely that these crimes are not connected, namely three girls of similar age, similar attack patterns, time of day and proximity to each other. We also know that both Strutner and Winchester were the same age, lived six houses apart and had a personal relationship. The key question remains, based on the high likelihood of the connectivity of the three crimes, not were the suspects involved in the three abductions, but were they together for the first two and what role did each of them play (we know that Strutner was incarcerated during the September 27th attack and Winchester acted alone).
What we recently learned from the UAPD cannot be denied and is the most critical evidence to date. The UAPD has conclusive scientific DNA evidence placing Strutner at the scene of the Asenath Dukat murder, but no physical evidence tying Winchester to that same scene. They have refrained from charging a deceased individual for murder.
They have chosen not to release that information as they do not believe that is the end of the investigation. UAPD also have conclusive scientific DNA evidence placing Winchester to the May 7th Canterbury Lane attack, but no physical evidence to place Strutner at that same scene. They are unable to charge Winchester for the May 7th crimes as the statute of limitations has passed for the crimes committed in that event.
For this reason, the UAPD has continued to investigate the case, despite the conclusive evidence tying Strutner to Asenath Dukat’s murder in order to continue to seek conclusive evidence to allow the prosecution of Winchester for the murder of Asenath Dukat. We do know, without a doubt that Winchester was found guilty to the third abduction of a young girl on September 27th, 1980. The UAPD has visited Winchester as recently as Q4 2018 who continues to remain silent, referring the UAPD to his unnamed attorney.
The Upper Arlington Police Department has faced criticism over the last 39 years for not bringing forward arrests for these crimes, however upon our investigation we’ve discovered they had likely identified the correct, suspected individuals within days (in the case of Strutner) and weeks (in the case of Winchester) of the murder and have actively investigated and monitored the suspects every day since.
Suspect2 is top left, suspect1 bottom left, next to the UAPD composite sketch from Dukat murder.
* Winchester failed a polygraph test about his alibi and whereabouts at the time of the murder.
* The UAPD found footprints at the crime scene that were similar to inked impressions of Winchester’s shoes.
* A nurse at First Community Village was certain she saw Winchester riding a red bike on the village grounds at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the murder. (The associated link states we had “reason to believe” the nurse had identified Winchester. We can now confirm that identification.)
* The murder of Asenath Dukat was very similar to the May 7, 1980 attack on Canterbury Lane, and DNA evidence has linked Winchester to the May 7 attack.
* Winchester abducted a girl near the Olentangy Commons apartment complex on September 28, 1980 (associated image from trial for this crime). He spent nearly three years in prison for that crime. The September 28 abduction was very similar to the May 7, 1980 attack on Canterbury Lane.
Those similarities include:
1. Both victims were young girls.
2. The May 7 attack happened in Upper Arlington. The September 27 attack happened just outside of Upper Arlington.
3. Both attacks happened in the mid-afternoon – between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
4. Both girls were near their homes when the attacks occurred. (Columbus Citizen Journal June 5, 1980; Columbus Dispatch January 16, 1981)
5. On September 27, Winchester passed the victim before attacking her. (Columbus Citizen Journal January 14, 1981) On May 7, the assailant passed the victim before attacking her. (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 6, 1980)
6. On September 27, Winchester grabbed the victim from behind. (Columbus Citizen Journal January 14, 1981) On May 7, the attacker grabbed the victim from behind. (UA News May 14, 1980)
7. On May 7, the attacker moved the victim to a forested area. (Columbus Dispatch June 5, 1980) On September 27, Winchester dragged the victim “in the direction of a deeply wooded and weeded area where few people traverse.” (Columbus Dispatch June 10, 1981)
As noted above, there were also many similarities between the May 7, 1980 attack on Canterbury Lane and the murder of Asenath Dukat. In less than five months, three very similar crimes happened in close proximity to each other – and Winchester was definitely involved in at least two of those crimes.
* Winchester was interviewed and given a polygraph exam in regards to the rape and murder of 8 year old Asenath Dukat on 6/6/80 and 6/7/80 respectively. He claimed complete innocence and provided an alibi that stated he wasn't at the scene (although near it).
* What is the likelihood that a misidentified innocent suspect (who in retrospect uniformly failed the poygraph exam), who had nothing to do with that rare and specific crime, would subsequently commit a very similar, very specific crime roughly two months later? In simpler terms, if you were mistakenly identified as rape and murder suspect against a child with no proclivity to commit this type of crime, would you follow-up that traumatic questioning by going and committing that very same crime that you were recently questioned about?
* Winchester owned a dark red Concord 27” 10-speed bike. The alibi concocted by Winchester put him on that bike about a half-mile from the crime scene at the time of the murder. Of course, Winchester failed a polygraph regarding the details of his alibi. Assuming he wasn’t being truthful about his whereabouts at the time of the murder, why would Winchester concoct an alibi that put him so close to the crime scene, at the time of the murder, on a red bike?
* A subject matching Winchester’s general description was seen in the area on the day of the murder.
* Winchester grew up six houses north of Strutner on the same road near Northam Park, and DNA evidence has linked Strutner to the murder of Asenath Dukat.
* Just before his June 7, 1980 polygraph exam, Winchester admitted he had been to the crime scene before with Strutner. Why would Winchester tell police he had been to the crime scene with somebody who was definitely involved in the murder? If it was purely coincidental, what are the odds that Winchester just so happened to name the killer?
* It should be noted that Winchester was a suspect in even more crimes in 1980, particularly a series of attacks on the OSU campus.
* Despite substantial circumstantial and physical evidence associating Winchester with the crimes on May 7, 1980 and June 3, 1980, Winchester refuses to cooperate with the investigation or attempt to clear his name in any fashion other than silence::
· Unknown date in May 1990: The UAPD attempts to question Winchester while he visits with his former fiancée. To avoid questioning, Winchester runs out a rear door to a payphone at 9th Avenue and North High Street. Ten minutes later, Winchester’s mother arrives and picks him up.
· Unknown date in either May or June 1990: The UAPD talks with Winchester for approximately 30 minutes at an undetermined location. Winchester then calls his mother. She arrives at the location, picks up Winchester, and advises him not to go anywhere with the police.
· October 11, 2007: The UAPD learns that DNA evidence links Winchester to the May 7, 1980 attack on Canterbury Lane.
· November 8, 2018: The UAPD visits Winchester at his place of employment. Winchester refuses to talk about the Dukat case or the May 7, 1980 attack. Winchester advises the UAPD to talk to his attorney.
A media photo of Suspect2 at his trial for the 9/28/80 abduction.
According to a February 20, 2008 entry in the UAPD’s casefile, the DNA match to Brent Strutner was not the only DNA found on Asenath Dukat’s body. The entry states: “[A DNA forensic scientist at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation] found a DNA profile belonging to [REDACTED] in the urine marked vaginal aspirate. Also found a major male profile on the red swatch of cloth found in Asenath’s underwear. This profile will be entered into CODIS.” Of course, Brent Strutner is the redacted name in this entry. His DNA was recovered from the vaginal aspirate. The DNA recovered from the “red swatch” belongs to an unknown male.
As far as we can tell, the UAPD started sending out evidence for DNA testing in the Dukat case in 2006. At that time, the UAPD sent evidence to the State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of Scientific Services. (Dr. Henry Lee, who gained fame during the OJ Simpson trial, was the Chief Emeritus of that division in Connecticut.) The analysts in Connecticut, however, could not obtain sufficient DNA from the evidence that had been submitted.
In 2007, the UAPD started submitting evidence to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (“BCI”). Because the two crimes had always been linked, the UAPD submitted evidence in both the Dukat case and the May 7, 1980 attack on a nine-year-old girl on Canterbury Lane. In November 2007, BCI found the DNA match to Robert Chris Winchester in the Canterbury Lane attack. (The UAPD confronted Robert Chris Winchester with this evidence on November 8, 2018. Winchester refused to discuss either the Canterbury Lane attack or the Dukat murder without an attorney present.)
On October 18, 2007, the UAPD submitted additional evidence to BCI. That evidence was: “One manila envelope containing urine (vaginal aspirate) two vials one Asenath Dukat one John Doe, red swatch of cloth found in panties, one piece of glove (back), and one piece of glove (thumb area) found in area of body[.]” In February 2008, BCI reported the “DNA profile from the urine sample (Item 5.1.2) is consistent with [Brent Strutner].” BCI also reported the “DNA profile from the swatch of cloth (Item 5.2) is from an unknown male.” Near the end of the report, BCI stated: “The forensic DNA profile has been entered into the CODIS database. If investigative information becomes available related to this profile, your agency will be notified.”
CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) is the national DNA database. In Ohio, any person who is arrested for a felony must submit their DNA to CODIS. A DNA match in CODIS solved the murder of Stephanie Hummer, which had been one of Central Ohio’s most well-known cold cases. (You can find more info on the Stephanie Hummer case here: https://apnews.com/article/51e446916130bca5ec8145077301c528.) Presumably, the DNA profile from the red swatch has been in CODIS since 2008. Apparently, however, no match has ever been found. This means the unknown male has either “kept his nose clean” or died before CODIS came into existence.
It bears repeating. According to the casefile, a red swatch of cloth found on the body of Asenath Dukat contains the DNA profile of an unknown male – not Brent Strutner. This is documented in a report dated February 21, 2008, in BCI&I Laboratory Number 07-12130. Nevertheless, questions remain about the red swatch. These questions relate to documentation of the evidence and potential chain-of-custody issues. We will discuss these issues in our next post.gned for your content that you can fill up with as many words as your heart desires. You can write articles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.
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One of the most important questions in this case regards the connection between Strutner and Winchester. There seems to be one moment when the investigation brought them together for a fleeting moment, and it’s an interesting interaction.
In the pre-interview before Winchester’s polygraph exam on June 7, 1980, the polygraph examiner learned that Winchester and his friend, Strutner, used to go to Frankenstein’s Cave to do drugs. (According to the case files, Winchester referred to Strutner as his “friend.”) Significantly, Frankenstein’s Cave is roughly 50-100 feet from the spot where Asenath Dukat was murdered, and DNA evidence has linked Strutner to the crime.
It is not entirely clear how or why Winchester disclosed the information about visiting Frankenstein’s Cave with Strutner. Did the polygraph examiner specifically ask Winchester about this? Or did Winchester volunteer this information for whatever reason? One could assume that Winchester would have been asked about Strutner. After all, they were roughly the same age and grew up six houses apart from each other on the same street. However, the timing of the investigation into Strutner casts doubt on this assumption.
Both Strutner and Winchester attracted police attention during the earliest stages of the investigation, while the UAPD tracked down dozens and dozens of tips and leads. (A June 8, 1980 Columbus Dispatch article states the UAPD had already questioned “50 to 60 suspects.”) A lead detective interviewed Winchester at 7:00 p.m. on June 6 and again at 9:15 a.m. the next morning. After the two interviews, Winchester’s polygraph exam was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on June 7. Also on June 7, the UAPD started to investigate Strutner’s whereabouts on the day of the murder. In fact, Winchester’s polygraph exam happened at roughly the same time as the initial interviews of Strutner’s friends and acquaintances. Accordingly, at the time of the polygraph exam, the UAPD didn’t even know whether Strutner had an alibi or not. As a result, it does not seem likely that Strutner was a prime suspect when Winchester took his polygraph exam. Furthermore, the detective who initially interviewed Winchester on June 6 and 7 did not ask Winchester about Strutner. If the UAPD had considered Strutner to be a prime suspect at the time, it seems likely this detective would have asked Winchester about Strutner on either June 6 or 7. Again, all of this raises the question: How or why did Winchester disclose to the polygraph examiner that he had been to Frankenstein’s Cave with Strutner?
In an interesting development, after taking his polygraph exam, Winchester seemed to backtrack on his previous comments. On June 10, 1980, a UAPD detective (the same detective who interviewed Winchester on June 6 and 7) asked Winchester about his association with Strutner. This time, Winchester said that he was not a very good friend of Strutner and that the trip to the river with him was “a couple of years ago.” (Frankenstein’s Cave goes under Route 33 and exits on the other side at the Scioto River.) Pictured below is Winchester's answer when asked about last seeing Strutner.
Winchester’s June 7, 1980 polygraph examination was an important factor in the early investigation. The UAPD polygraph examiner determined that Winchester had been truthful in his answers. Almost 10 years later, however, it was determined that the polygraph examiner had misread the results and that Winchester had not been truthful. Because of the misread results, Winchester was tentatively cleared and his picture was not shown to key witnesses during the earliest stages of the investigation. For example, numerous witnesses saw a subject (or subjects) with some variation of dark hair, dark pants, and/or a white shirt throughout the area. One of those witnesses was shown photographs of possible suspects on June 13. Then, on June 16, another one of those witnesses was shown photographs of possible suspects. We do not believe a picture of Winchester was included among the photographs on either June 13 or June 16. But a picture of Strutner was included both times. (In fact, one witness tentatively identified Strutner. The other witness did not pick out any of the photographs.)
The UAPD began actively investigating Winchester after he attacked a 13-year-old girl on September 27, 1980. Because of the misread polygraph results, the UAPD pursued other leads and suspects for nearly four months before focusing on Winchester. It is impossible to know whether the case would have turned out differently if law enforcement had started investigating Winchester immediately after the polygraph exam. However, it is interesting to note that Winchester was tentatively cleared just as the UAPD started investigating Strutner. Winchester’s polygraph exam was on June 7, and the UAPD first interviewed Strutner on June 8. One can only wonder what would have happened if law enforcement had actively investigated both suspects – at the same time – in the immediate few days after the crime.
There are multiple indications that two people could have been involved in the murder of Asenath Dukat. Several witness accounts near the crime scene support this possibility.
On the day of the murder at approximately 3:10 p.m., a witness who lived on Waltham Road saw a man near the corner of Waltham and Hillside. According to her June 14, 1980 interview, this witness could have possibly seen two men, not just one. This witness was hypnotized on June 17. While under hypnosis, the witness apparently identified the photographs of two different men who were similar to the man she saw.
At the end of the hypnosis notes, it says:
“Possibility of 2 persons involved"
"Check out who # 4 on left + # 2 on right is”
(We have included these hypnosis notes below.)
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on the day of the murder, a woman who lived on Abington Road saw two “juveniles” looking in the grass near the fire hydrant at the corner of Waltham and Route 33.
While out looking for Asenath around 3:50 p.m., two nine-year-old boys who lived on Malvern Road saw two 18-to-20-year-old men by the phone booth at the service station on the corner of Waltham and Route 33. According to one of the nine-year olds, one man had blond hair and the other man had light brown hair. The boys rode their bicycles into First Community Village over the service road off Waltham, rode through the village grounds looking for Asenath, and then returned to Waltham over the service road. As they returned to Waltham, the boys saw the same two men hanging around the entrance to the service station.
Winchester’s Polygraph Exam:
Winchester failed a polygraph exam on June 7, 1980. Unfortunately, however, his polygraph results were misread at the time. As a result, the UAPD thought Winchester had passed his polygraph exam, and he was cleared as a suspect just five days into the investigation. The UAPD did not actively start investigating Winchester until they learned he had attacked a 13-year-old girl on September 27, 1980 – nearly four months after the murder of Asenath Dukat. Winchester was simply not a focus for 113 crucial days during the early part of the investigation. Because of this, key witnesses were not shown Winchester’s picture during follow-up interviews in June and July 1980. For example, a nurse was 10-out-of-10 certain she saw Winchester riding a red bike in First Community Village at 4:30 p.m. on June 3, 1980. But she came to that realization only after seeing Winchester on the news months later, not after being shown his picture by investigators. Things may have been very different if the nurse had identified Winchester in June 1980 instead of January 1981. (The nurse was first interviewed by the UAPD on June 6, 1980. During that interview, she described the man on the bike as a white male, tall, thin, dark hair, 18-20 years old. This was essentially a general description of Winchester. The nurse was interviewed again on June 29, 1980, and January 23, 1981.)
Strutner had an alibi for the afternoon of June 3, 1980. An Upper Arlington family said that Strutner was at their house that afternoon. Obviously, decades later, DNA evidence has linked Strutner to the rape and murder of Asenath Dukat. But DNA evidence was not available in 1980, and Strutner’s alibi caused the UAPD to discount Strutner as a suspect. In fact, shortly after Strutner’s suicide in June 1984, one of the lead investigators told a newspaper reporter that Strutner “was never a really good suspect.” After reviewing the police files, it is unclear how to reconcile the alibi with the DNA evidence. Was Strutner at the Upper Arlington family’s house on June 3, 1980? It’s certainly possible. That house was just a 10-minute bike ride (and a 5-minute car ride) from the murder scene. Therefore, it is possible that Strutner was at the Upper Arlington family’s house either shortly before or after the abduction of Asenath Dukat. (In light of what we know today, this is a definite possibility. At the time, however, the UAPD seemingly discounted this possibility as they theorized (a) that only one perpetrator was involved and (b) that Asenath was murdered two-or-more hours after she was abducted.) Another possibility: Did the Upper Arlington family make a mistake regarding the day Strutner was at their house? The Upper Arlington family’s description of Strutner’s clothes does not match the description given by multiple witnesses who saw Strutner later that afternoon and evening. Strutner also never mentioned the Upper Arlington family when he was interviewed by the UAPD on June 8, 1980. The UAPD asked Strutner where he was between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. on the day of the murder, and Strutner did not mention being at the Upper Arlington family’s house. Regardless, the alibi hindered any further investigation or potential prosecution of Strutner.
The Timing of the Investigations into Strutner and Winchester:
Strutner and Winchester grew up on the same street, six houses apart from each other. They were both 20-years old in June 1980. They definitely knew each other. According to Winchester, they had even been to Frankenstein’s Cave together at some point. They had at least one other thing in common. They were both violent criminals who preyed upon young girls. DNA evidence has linked Strutner to the rape and murder of Asenath Dukat. Winchester spent nearly three years in prison for attacking a 13-year-old girl on September 27, 1980. DNA evidence has also linked Winchester to the May 7, 1980 attack on a 9-year-old girl near Canterbury Lane. However, the UAPD did not really investigate Strutner and Winchester at the same time. Winchester was “cleared” on June 7, 1980, after the UAPD mistakenly thought he passed a polygraph exam. The active investigation into Strutner essentially started that very same day. As a result, the UAPD no longer considered Winchester a suspect just as they started investigating Strutner. Similarly, the UAPD had moved on from Strutner as a prime suspect when they started investigating Winchester in September 1980. By that time, the UAPD had learned about Strutner’s alibi the afternoon of the murder. If the UAPD had considered both Strutner and Winchester suspects at the same time, it seems likely investigators would have made the connection between their two best suspects.
The timing issues probably impacted the value of the physical evidence to investigators. Instead of looking at the physical evidence in connection with both suspects, the UAPD probably considered the physical evidence in relation to either Winchester or Strutner as individual suspects. Because of that, at least some of the physical evidence tended to be exculpatory in nature. For example, the FBI determined that footprints found at the crime scene matched Winchester’s shoes in all observable characteristics as to design, design size, and general wear patterns. But those footprints did not match Strutner’s shoes. That evidence would tend to implicate Winchester and eliminate Strutner as a suspect. But other physical evidence did just the opposite. On December 5, 1980, Columbus Police investigators determined that a hair found on the body of Asenath Dukat was “similar” to a hair recovered from Strutner’s undershorts. Earlier, however, the FBI determined the hair recovered from Asenath Dukat’s body could not have originated from Winchester. As a result, in this instance, the evidence would tend to implicate Strutner and eliminate Winchester as a suspect. If the timing was different, and the UAPD had made the connection between the two suspects, the physical evidence might have been more helpful.
On September 30, 1980, Winchester was arrested for attacking a 13-year-old girl near the Olentangy Commons apartment complex. That same day, Winchester was in a lineup at the Franklin County Jail. The victim of the attack on Canterbury Lane identified Winchester during that lineup. Earlier in the investigation, the UAPD had interviewed a woman who lived near the scene of the attack on Canterbury Lane. This woman was a neighbor of the victim, and it was believed the neighbor had seen the attacker on May 7, 1980. As a result, this neighbor was also at the Franklin County Jail for Winchester’s lineup. But the neighbor did not pick Winchester out of the lineup. Instead, she identified “none” of the men and told police she saw a much shorter man with a different hairstyle. Years later, we have learned that DNA evidence links Winchester to the attack on Canterbury Lane. And yet, the neighbor did not identify Winchester during the police lineup. From the beginning of the investigation, the UAPD believed the person responsible for the attack on Canterbury Lane was also responsible for the murder of Asenath Dukat. The neighbor’s failure to identify Winchester during the police lineup must have made the investigation or any potential prosecution more difficult (for either the May 7, 1980 attack or the Dukat murder).
Why didn’t the neighbor identify Winchester? Did she simply make a mistake? Or could she have seen somebody else? Because the neighbor described seeing a much shorter man, it’s worth noting that Strutner is about six-or-seven inches shorter than Winchester. Furthermore, there is circumstantial evidence that links Strutner to the May 7, 1980 attack on Canterbury Lane. Before Winchester’s police lineup, both the victim of the attack on Canterbury Lane and the friend she was walking home with identified Strutner’s picture during a photo lineup. They both said Strutner looked the most like the man they had seen shortly before the attack. Additionally, a confidential informant told the UAPD that Strutner had become paranoid since about the first week of May 1980. This informant also said that, sometime after the May 7 attack, Strutner had suddenly stopped riding his bicycle. Finally, during his only interview with the UAPD, Strutner accounted for his time on just one date other than June 3, 1980. Without being asked about specific dates, Strutner mentioned that he went to a Frank Zappa concert on May 6, 1980 – the night before the attack on Canterbury Lane. The UAPD simply asked Strutner, “Have you ever done any drugs other than grass?” In response, Strutner mentioned the May 6, 1980 concert as a specific time when he did not do drugs.
The Long Walk Home Team
References: *Columbus Dispatch, 6/8/80 **Columbus Dispatch, 6/14/80 *** Columbus Dispatch, 6/13/80; 10/1/80 **** Columbus Dispatch, 6/17/80 *****Columbus Dispatch, 9/5/80 ^Columbus Citizen Journal, 6/5/80 ^^ Columbus Citizen Journal, 5/18/81 ^^^ Columbus Dispatch, 6/18/80; Columbus Citizen Journal, 6/19/80; Upper Arlington News 6/25/80
According to an 8/10/22 press release, Asenath's case is closed by the city of UA, but it is far from closed for us. We applaud the countless hours and hard work that lead to the confirmation of Brent Strutner’s involvement in the crime. However, after viewing the totality of the evidence, it is reasonable to conclude Brent Strutner did not act alone. Our mission will continue based on that belief and as long as the Dukat family and our community continue to support our efforts to bring all involved to justice. Explore our site and we are confident you may come to the same conclusion.