The Long Walk Home: The Asenath Dukat Project
THE CASE HISTORY HAS BEEN REVIEWED BY A LEGAL TEAM FOR ACCURACY AND IS SOURCED/REFERENCED DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLIC RECORD. ALL NAMES DIRECTLY IMPACTED BY THESE EVENTS WILL BE REDACTED. WE ASK THAT IF YOU ARE PRIVY TO A REDACTED NAME YOU SHARE IN OUR VALUES AND REFRAIN FROM SHARING WITHIN THE PROJECT OR ELSEWHERE.
Less than a month before Asenath Dukat was murdered, a nine-year-old girl was attacked on Canterbury Lane. Police have continuously believed the same man committed both of these crimes.
On May 7, 1980, at approximately 3:30pm, a nine-year-old girl and her Tremont Elementary School classmate were walking home from a school bus stop at Canterbury Lane. A witness saw a man on a bicycle following the two girls. As the two girls walked up a hill, they “were passed several times by a young man on a maroon 10-speed bike” — presumably, the same man who had been following them. (UA News, 5/14/80)
(Although the initial news report described the bicycle as “maroon,” most subsequent reports described the bicycle as “red.” Additionally, later news reports clarified that the man on the bike passed by the girls two times. For example, the June 6, 1980 Columbus Citizen-Journal reported: “the assailant drove by…two times on a red bike before the two girls separated….”)
“The two girls split up when the victim cut through a yard to reach Riverside Drive. While passing some bushes in the yard the girl told police she was grabbed from behind by a man. When she tried to scream, the man choked her and she lost consciousness.” (UA News, 5/14/80)
When the victim awoke, her face had been battered, and she had been moved several hundred feet to a secluded area. According to some media reports, the victim’s “underpants were pulled down to her ankles.” (Columbus Citizen Journal 6/5/80) But other media reports state only that “her clothing had been disturbed before she regained consciousness.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)
Thankfully, for an unknown reason, the assailant fled and the girl suffered no further harm.
The victim of the May 7th attack did not see her assailant’s face during the attack itself. Nevertheless, throughout the investigation, police believed the man who rode past the girls on the 10-speed bike was the attacker. The initial report of the May 7th attack described the man on the bike as “being between 15 and 20 years of age, thin, with straight black hair, and a dark complexion.” (UA News 5/14/80)
Because police believed the perpetrator of the May 7th attack also murdered Asenath Dukat, the description of the suspect evolved during the course of the Dukat investigation. Shortly after Asenath was murdered, the description was revised to a white male, “16- to 20-years-old, 5-foot 9-inches to 6-foot tall, 180 to 200 pounds, black hair, pale complexion, wearing brown gloves with black zigzags, a light brown zippered jacket with black or brown elastic around the neck and wrists, old blue jeans and light brown or suede-looking shoes with dark shoe laces.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/6/80)
At the start of the Dukat investigation, the UAPD acknowledged there was “some confusion about the” suspect’s general appearance. (Columbus Dispatch 6/8/80) This confusion may have stemmed from differences between the initial police report of the May 7th attack and later news reports. The May 7th police report contains one description of the suspect, but the UAPD later described the suspect as having a “Mediterranean look possibly Italian or Sicilian,” having “an olive complexion,” or, potentially, having a “normal, medium complexion.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/5/80; Columbus Dispatch 6/6/80; Columbus Dispatch 7/15/80)
The illustration on the right was generated from the description of the 5/7/80 attack.
The official UAPD police report as submitted by first responders to the May 7th attack on Canterbury Lane.
Asenath Dukat was a third-grade student at Barrington Elementary School. On June 3, 1980, her entire class was held 10 minutes after the final bell because of poor behavior. After eight-year-old Asenath left school at approximately 3:10pm, she apparently started walking home along her usual route – west on Barrington Road to Waltham Road, and then, west on Waltham to Malvern Road. Asenath lived on Malvern, which is the last street off Waltham before Waltham ends at Route 33. The walk from Barrington Elementary School to Asenath’s house is slightly less than one mile.
On her normal route home, walking west on Waltham, Asenath would have passed the following streets:
And finally, her street, Malvern Road.
According to some media reports, the “last persons known to have seen her alive were classmates who saw her…between Arlington Avenue and Cambridge Boulevard.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81) Other media reports, however, claim Asenath was last seen at the corner of Waltham and Arlington, “but she wasn’t seen (walking past Arlington Ave.).” (Columbus Dispatch 11/25/80) Regardless, most reports state that Asenath was last seen at approximately 3:20pm. (For example, Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90)
Tragically, Asenath did not return home on June 3. When she was a half-hour late, Asenath’s teacher was called. Then, at approximately 4:30pm, Asenath’s mother called the police to report Asenath missing. “A widespread search began immediately after the missing-person report was called into police headquarters.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/4/80)
At approximately 7:30 that night, a police officer found Asenath’s body on the grounds of First Community Village, a sprawling retirement community at the southwest corner of Waltham Road and Route 33. Asenath’s body was found in a creek bed not far from the corner of Waltham and Malvern – less than 1,000 feet from her house.
Today, motorists can enter First Community Village off of Waltham – almost directly across from Malvern Road. In 1980, however, this entrance was a service road that was closed to the general public. Asenath’s body was found near the opening of a culvert that ran under this service road. There were handprints on her neck from strangulation. But ultimately, Asenath was “killed by a blow to her head by a 20 pound rock” that had been obtained from the creek bed. (Columbus Dispatch 6/5/80; Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/6/80). The police soon learned that Asenath had also been raped.
Significantly, a witness “saw a red bicycle leaning against bushes a short distance from where police said the girl was first attacked.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80) The tracks of a 10-speed bicycle were also found “in the area…where Asenath was killed.” (UA News 6/11/80) Police immediately linked the red-10-speed bike – and the person who rode that bike – to Asenath’s murder.
Police initially believed Asenath “was confronted by [her killer] somewhere along Waltham Rd., but could not pinpoint an exact location.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/5/80) UA police “theorized that the girl was walking home along Waltham Road when the man on the bike began a conversation with her. As they approached a stone wall on the northeast corner (sic) of Waltham and Hillside Drive, the man attacked the girl…. Then, police said, the suspect probably choked the girl and dragged her about 100 yards through a grassy area” to a “small clearing surrounded by tall pine trees about 15 feet off Waltham Road…. The clearing, where police think the girl was raped, is less than a block from her home.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80) The day after the murder, police found “the girl’s school papers and umbrella in the small clearing.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80) Police found a “rubber ball” there, too. (Columbus Dispatch 6/6/80; Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/20/80)
After attacking Asenath, police believed “the assailant either dragged or carried her 150 yards to a culvert in a creek bed, where she was killed.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80) (Other media reports state the culvert was “more than 300 feet to the west” (Columbus Dispatch 6/5/80) or “about 300 feet away.” (UA News 6/11/80).)
Finally, more than a decade later, a former UA police officer claimed the crime scene had been mismanaged on the day of the murder. According to the former officer, the “crime scene was trampled by dozens of officers, medics, and even city politicians who wanted a look.” (Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91) Other UAPD officers, however, said the crime scene “was controlled properly.” (Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91)
The official UAPD police report as submitted by first responders to the discovery of Asenath Dukat's murder.
A single pubic hair was recovered from the crime scene. The FBI compared this pubic hair to pubic hair samples obtained from early suspects. According to the FBI, the unidentified hair was microscopically dissimilar to the hairs obtained from one primary suspect*. The FBI further stated that the unidentified pubic hair and the pubic hairs obtained from that suspect could not have originated from the same source. We are not yet aware if the FBI tested the unidentified hair against hair samples obtained from a second primary suspect**. However, it appears as though the Columbus Police Department compared the unidentified pubic hair to hairs removed from that suspect's undershorts. Apparently, the Columbus Police Department found that the hairs were similar.
There was a second curious discovery. According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the average value for urine pH is 6.0, but it can range from 4.5 to 8.0. Urine under 5.0 is acidic, and urine higher than 8.0 is alkaline, or basic. Urine (not Asenath's) was discovered in the autopsy that was alkaline with crystals, this is rare and unusual. We do not know the details of how this information was utilized in the investigation, but we do know a leading urologist was consulted [see image above].
A third curious discovery was a clue not mentioned in the initial media reports. A red comb found in First Community Village, near the stone wall separating First Community from 2199 Waltham Road. This comb was unusual for two reasons. First, it was a promotional comb from a barbershop in West Jefferson, Ohio. But even more significantly, the phone number printed on the side of the comb was incorrect. As a result, the owner of the barbershop didn’t give many of these combs out, and very few of these combs were in circulation. How did a rare comb from West Jefferson end up near the crime scene at First Community Village?
On June 20, 1980, a UA police sergeant went to the barbershop to check on the red comb. During this visit, the sergeant showed the barbershop employees one or more pictures, and the employees identified an unknown subject. (The name of the subject is redacted from the police files.) After the June 20 visit and a subsequent tip related to West Jefferson (again redacted), the UAPD found the comb significant enough to send to the FBI for analysis. The comb, however, did not provide any relevant physical evidence.
Lastly, Upper Arlington police found footprints throughout First Community Village. The UAPD made a plaster cast of a footprint found near Asenath Dukat’s body. Later, the UAPD sent this plaster cast and inked shoe print impressions of a primary suspect's* shoes to the FBI for examination. The FBI found that the inked shoe print impressions were similar in all observable characteristics as to design, design size, and general wear to comparable portions of the partial shoe print impression depicted by the plaster cast. However, because of the limited nature of the questioned impressions and insufficient detail in the plaster cast, the FBI could not reach a conclusion as to whether the footprint was or was not made by this early suspect. Additionally, a footprint found on the west side of the wall separating First Community Village from 2199 Waltham Road was also similar in design, design size, and general wear characteristics to the inked impressions of said suspect's shoes. But again, because of a lack of sufficient detail in the photograph of the footprint, the FBI could not determine whether that footprint was made by the suspect's shoe. In total, the UAPD found footprints that were similar in at least design and design size to a primary Suspect’s* shoes (a) where Asenath’s body was found, (b) near the wall separating First Community Village from 2199 Waltham Road, and (c) where Asenath’s school papers and umbrella were discovered. None of these footprints, however, could be conclusively (scientifically) linked to that suspect.
More information on both of these suspects can be found in Chapters 8-10 located under "The Suspects" tab. Please note a single asterisk references Suspect2, two asterisks reference Suspect1 as presented in later chapters.
Shortly after Asenath’s murder, a female witness stepped forward and provided information to the UAPD. This witness was “hypnotized under Upper Arlington police direction” the day after the murder. (Columbus Dispatch June 5, 1980) As a result, police were “‘satisfied [the female witness] saw the killer.’” (Columbus Dispatch June 5, 1980)
“The woman earlier had told police she was driving east on Waltham Rd. Tuesday afternoon when she saw a clean-cut man in a white T-shirt carrying a large object in both arms.” (Columbus Dispatch June 5, 1980) According to UA Police Chief Kenneth Borror, this witness “saw a young man carrying what could have been the unconscious girl toward the creek bed about 4 p.m.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 5, 1980) “The witness, a woman Borror did not identify, also saw a red bicycle leaning against bushes a short distance from where police said the girl was first attacked. Borror said the bicycle is important because the man who attacked an 11-year-old girl (sic) on May 7 was riding a red bike.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 5, 1980)
It is not entirely clear whether this particular witness provided the description that resulted in the well-known sketch of Asenath’s killer (pictured on the left in the image in section 1, remember the right side is based on a description from the May 7th attack). The UA News reported: “Using hypnosis on the [May 7th] victim and on a woman who probably saw the murderer carrying Asenath’s body to the culvert, police drew and released a composite sketch of the man.” (UA News June 11, 1980) The Columbus Dispatch, however, reported that a different witness could have provided the information for the sketch. According to the Dispatch, “Police also have another possible witness who gave a description from which they made a sketch of the individual thought to have killed the child. [Chief Borror] refused to reveal the circumstances under which this witness saw the suspected killer.” (Columbus Dispatch June 5, 1980)
The new witnesses also provided more information about the 10-speed bike seen near the crime scene. According to Chief Borror, the various witnesses “described the bike as a Schwinn with stars surrounding the word Schwinn. It has an orange reflector on the front wheel and a red reflector hanging from the seat over the rear wheel.” Additionally, there “is black tape on the handlebars and the 10-speed gear shift is on the angled bar leading to the pedals. The maroon-red bike has no fenders.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 6, 1980)
Roughly six weeks after Asenath’s murder, the UAPD located “a male motorist who was driving west on Waltham Rd.” at “about 4 p.m. June 3 and may have seen the murderer.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980; UA News July 23, 1980)
On July 14, 1980, the male motorist was interviewed under hypnosis by the UAPD. This new witness “evidently saw some of the same things observed by a female motorist driving east on Waltham about the same time.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) UA Police Chief Kenneth Borror said, “We think he saw what the female witness saw. He saw someone being carried.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980)
According to the UA News, the male motorist “was able to give police a description of a man in the area of the murder site (along Waltham near First Community Village) that was similar to previous descriptions of the murderer.” (UA News July 23, 1980) The Columbus Dispatch also reported that, in both interviews, the basic composites of the man were similar. (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) However, according to the Columbus Dispatch, the information provided by the male motorist differed in some respects from information provided by the initial female witness. For example, the male motorist said the “suspect was ‘a little bit fuller in the face’ than the composite drawn from the information provided by the female witness.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) Additionally, the male motorist “described the man carrying the girl as being of ‘normal, medium complexion.’” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) This description contrasts with the female witness’ statement that the suspect had a “Mediterranean look.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) These contrasting descriptions highlight the overall confusion about the suspect’s general appearance.
June 3rd, 1980 was an election primary and there was voting at Hillhouse at First Community Village as well as Jones Middle School. The question often posed, how did no one see something? UAPD Detective Ed Tyne developed a time chart that can place someone (potential witnesses) in the field or on Waltham Road for every five minutes for about an hour before the murder until 7:30pm. That is before, during and after the murder, yet none of them saw something suspicious. There was a hypothesis that people saw something, but didn't know what it was or saw a person in the area they recognized and figured they can't be the murderer so they didn't report it. UAPD Chief Kenneth Borror stated, "That area was so busy that day, you almost needed a traffic cop. And nobody saw anything?" (UA News, 8/6/80).
In addition to the many residents of the retirement community, the UAPD had hoped a voter might come forward as a potential witness. This has not happened. Despite so many people being near the scene of the crime, no witness has ever provided enough information to lead to an indictment.
1980 Red Schwinn bicycle as described by witnesses.
There were two key witnesses with similar sightings. At approximately 3:20 p.m., a man driving west on Waltham witnessed a man with dark glasses carrying a limp girl into the yard at the northwest corner of Waltham and Malvern. Then, at approximately 3:25 p.m., a woman driving east on Waltham observed a man in his twenties, six-feet tall, average build, running south from Malvern and cradling a bundle that appeared to be a small child.
One of the first witnesses to be hypnotized was a woman who lived on Tremont Road, near the intersection of Tremont and Tewksbury Road. This witness initially talked to UA police the morning of June 4, 1980 – about 12 hours after Asenath’s body was found. The witness told police that, on June 3, she had turned her car east onto Waltham Road from Route 33 at approximately 3:25 p.m. (She arrived home at 3:30 p.m.) While driving, she observed a “m/w/6’, slim build, brown hair (normal length), no facial hair and no glasses, running from Malvern Road south to 1st Comm. Village cradling what appeared to be a child.” She further stated the “subject was running, but not running so as to avoid being struck by cars” and that the “subject was wearing a white short sleeve button down shirt” and dark pants. The witness also stated she saw a “red bicycle, only description available, headed north between the spruce trees” at First Community Village between Malvern and Hillside Drive. As the witness continued to drive east on Waltham, she glanced over her shoulder but could not see the subject.
This witness was first hypnotized the evening of June 4, 1980, at Upper Arlington Police Headquarters by an instructor of forensic hypnosis at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. During that night’s session, the witness described the subject as “Male-Caucasion-6’-160-170lbs-brn hair-wearing dark (blk/brn) trousers-white, short sleeve shirt- NO FURTHER.” It is not entirely clear, but this witness may have been hypnotized again later that month by a “human relations, management, and security” consultant. Regardless, while under hypnosis, the witness gave further details about what she saw on June 3, 1980.
She saw a “man running (fast) across Waltham north to south (not close enough she needed to brake).” This man disappeared into the pine trees while carrying a “bundle.” The witness believed the bundle was a human because of the fabric she saw – she “did not see [a] head or limbs.” The fabric may have been blue or purple, but the witness was not sure. Finally, the police were unable to obtain a composite drawing of the subject from this witness.
This witness provided one of the key accounts in the Asenath Dukat investigation, and there are numerous reasons to believe her account is credible. For example, she identified a red bike in the trees at First Community Village before the police found bike tracks in the field. She also observed the red bike in the general area where Asenath’s items were later found. Furthermore, this witness said the subject had dark hair, a white-short-sleeve shirt, and dark pants. This general description was not featured in news coverage of the Dukat case, but several witnesses later described seeing a similar subject throughout the area. We have also learned this witness later passed a polygraph exam about what she saw.
Nevertheless, certain factors make this witness’s account problematic. Asenath was last seen walking west on Waltham near Jones Middle School and Devon Pool at approximately 3:20 p.m. If this witness’s account is relevant to the case, how did Asenath get to the intersection of Waltham and Malvern – approximately a half-mile away – just five minutes later? Furthermore, the human relations, management, and security consultant who performed hypnosis for the UAPD said: “I think you need to know that it is my estimate that one of your key witnesses, [this witness], is not a witness at all. I tried to share with Capt. Good my observations regarding her situation.” We have not uncovered what the consultant’s observations were.
There was a second witness who had a similar sighting.
On 7/4/1980, roughly one month after the rape and murder of Asenath Dukat, a male witness contacted the Columbus Police Homicide division and stated he wanted to talk about the Asenath Dukat case. This UAPD arranged to meet this witness at Patton's Bar at 1662 West Mound St. at 12:30 a.m. This man was employed at the Association for the Developmentally Disabled at 1387 W. 5th Ave. as a maintenance man.
This witness stated that in the later part of May, he observed a subject matching the well-known composite sitting on the steps of the Association for the Developmentally Disabled. Subject was wearing blue running shoes, jeans, tan jackets with elastic cuffs (waist and wrists). He stayed for at least two hours. His co-workers could not identify the man.
A few days later he was at another facility called the Adult Day Service, 1043 W. 3rd. Ave. They were having a party and the same subject was there, but not participating in the event.
On 6/3 our witness went to the Railroad Savings & Loan on Arlington Ave. and N. Mallway Dr. around 3:10pm. He left and drove down Waltham Rd. He observed a red single speed bike with a plastic star lying at the curb of the field. Across the street he saw a subject carrying a girl toward a house. He felt at this time that the girl had fallen off the bike and her father or brother was carrying her home. Later he realized the subject was the one he'd seen at the two assisted living facilities and though warm, he had on same jacket and jeans. The witness then went to the Suburban Restaurant on Rt #33 and stayed one hour, leaving at 4:00-4:15pm. On his way home, he AGAIN saw the subject at 5th Ave. and Broadview Ave. headed eastbound on a bike. He did not see the subject again and suggested the police check the "Arts & Crafts Bldg" at Kinnear and Ackerman Rds. He did not state why.
It is curious that this particular witness came forward nearly one month after the murder of Asenath Dukat. This would have allowed him to consume information about the case presented in the media prior to alerting the police about his experience. In addition, the descriptions provided largely match the descriptions of the suspect in the Grandview, Big Bear Supermarket incident as outlined in chapter 5, which was reported in the media less than a week before he contacted police. In our opinion, this does raise into question the authenticity of his report and his motives for coming forward. At the same time, this could be a 100% true account. This referenced witness is currently living and while protecting his/your privacy, if you are interested in discussing your experience with the investigation, please reach out to us via this website.
In addition, near the time of these accounts, between 3:20-3:25 p.m., another witness who lived on Fairfax Road, near the northwest corner of Fairfax and Guilford Road, saw an 18-21 year-old male on a bicycle. (The witness did not remember the color of the bicycle.) The man had dark hair and wore a white t-shirt and dark trousers. He was slowly riding his bicycle west on Guilford, past Fairfax, while looking at a group of children. This sighting may be significant for a number of reasons. First, Asenath Dukat was last seen at or near the corner of Arlington Avenue and Waltham Road around 3:20 p.m. The corner of Arlington and Waltham is just two blocks from the corner of Fairfax and Guilford – roughly 1,100 feet apart going west on Waltham and north on Fairfax. As a result, the man on the bike and Asenath were essentially in the same area at the same time. Second, the general description of the man on the bike matches the general description of the man seen carrying a “bundle” that appeared to be a child at the corner of Waltham and Malvern Road at approximately 3:25 p.m. That man was described as being in his twenties with brown hair. He was wearing a white-short-sleeve shirt and dark pants. The witness who saw the man carrying the bundle also saw a red bicycle on the south side of Waltham, close to where Asenath’s items were later discovered. The corner of Waltham and Arlington is approximately a half-mile from the corner of Waltham and Malvern. It is about a two-or-three minute bike ride downhill.
Beyond the sighting of the man carrying the bundle, witnesses saw a subject (or subjects) somewhat matching the description of the man on the bike multiple times near the crime scene on the day of the murder.
Almost immediately, the UAPD believed Asenath’s killer was local to Upper Arlington. “‘He (the killer) is very familiar with the area. If he is not local, he lives very close to the area,’” UA Police Chief Kenneth Borror said. (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 6, 1980)
This belief was bolstered by two psychological profiles the UAPD received in July 1980. The profiles described “a young man, 17-19 years old, who lives within two miles of the scene of the slayings.” (Columbus Dispatch July 15, 1980) (A retired New York City homicide detective prepared one of these profiles, and he “thought the meeting of murderer and victim was not an accidental crossing of paths; most likely the murderer was in the area waiting.” (UA News July 16, 1980)
Additionally, it did not take long for the UAPD to believe that Asenath’s murderer was the same man who attacked the nine-year-old girl on May 7, 1980.
Police and the media noted the following similarities between the two crimes:
Because of these similarities, Chief “Borror said the best suspect police have in [Asenath’s] slaying is an unknown man who is also being sought for the assault May 7 of a 10-year-old girl (sic) who was attacked as she returned home from Tremont Elementary School.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal June 6, 1980)
Waltham Road, Upper Arlington, 1980. (Chamber of Commerce Promotional Brochure, UA Archives)
As Asenath’s killer remained at large, fear gripped the community throughout the summer of 1980.
Anybody riding a red bicycle was viewed with suspicion, and at least two women believed they might have encountered the man responsible for Asenath’s death.
On June 28, 1980, a 24-year-old Grandview Heights woman told police a man had “grabbed her around the throat from behind in the parking lot of the Big Bear supermarket at 5th and Grandview Aves.” (Columbus Dispatch July 1, 1980)
As people ran to the woman’s aid, the attacker “jumped on a nearby bicycle and pedaled west.” (Columbus Dispatch July 1, 1980) The “bicycle was maroon or red but definitely was not a 10-speed.” (Columbus Dispatch July 1, 1980) Later, the woman told police her assailant resembled the sketch of Asenath’s killer, “with the exception that the woman’s attacker wore glasses.” (Columbus Dispatch July 1, 1980) For a short time, media reports linked the Big Bear attack to the murder of Asenath Dukat, but the idea of a connection between the crimes faded after a few weeks.
Then, on July 2, 1980, multiple police forces “responded within minutes of a report of an encounter on the parking lot of Warren-Teed Laboratories, 967 Goodale Blvd., between a young woman and a young man riding a red 10-speed bicycle.” (Columbus Dispatch July 2, 1980)
Both individuals were heading to work, “and the young woman became ‘extremely frightened’ when the man” on the bike passed near her. (Columbus Dispatch July 2, 1980)
Within minutes, “about 25 police officers had surrounded the area and prepared to search for the man.” (Columbus Dispatch July 2, 1980) However, after questioning the man on the bike, the police quickly learned this “‘was just a false alarm.’” (Columbus Dispatch July 2, 1980) Apparently, the young woman had “‘misinterpreted the smile’” on the man’s face. (Columbus Dispatch July 2, 1980)
Although suspects and theories emerged during the course of the investigation, no other crimes have been definitively linked to the murder of Asenath Dukat and the May 7th attack.
An updated sketch of the suspect, adding glasses based on the 7/1/80 attack.
In November 1980, the UAPD announced they had “discarded the theory that a man who rode a red, 10-speed bicycle murdered 8-year-old” Asenath Dukat. (Columbus Dispatch 11/25/80) Instead, police theorized “the Dukat girl was abducted by a motorist as she walked from the school to her home.” (Columbus Dispatch 11/25/80) According to the UAPD, Asenath “had told her mother that she had been followed by a man in an auto on two separate occasions.” (Columbus Dispatch 11/25/80) (A later report, however, claimed Asenath had been “followed home” on one occasion, not two. (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)) In fact, the UAPD learned “that about 20 children, usually girls, were followed by male motorists near the Barrington Elementary School between September 1979 and June 1980.” (Columbus Dispatch 11/25/80)
The end of the red-bike “theory came when police located a mother who went north (sic) on Waltham Road to meet her child and never passed Asenath. Her child, walking south, (sic) also never saw Asenath.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81) As a result, “police developed the new theory Asenath was abducted between Arlington Avenue and Cambridge Boulevard by a man in a car. She was taken to an unknown location and raped…. She then was driven to the culvert [at First Community Village,] placed in the stream bed and ‘probably killed as an afterthought,’ [Sergeant Thomas] French said.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)
The UAPD organized a time log of “all persons known to have been in the area between the school and the scene” of Asenath’s murder. (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81) The time log started on June 3, 1980, at 12:30 p.m. and ran until 7:28 p.m. that night, when Asenath’s body was found. “The major gap in the clock is 5:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., between which times Asenath probably was killed, French said.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)
Despite the change in theory, police still believed “the man who attacked a 10-year-old girl (sic) May 7, 1980, as she walked home from Tremont Elementary School also killed Asenath.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)
Police never explained how certain evidence fit into the car-abduction theory. For example, in June 1980, a German shepherd “was able to retrace [Asenath’s] steps from Barrington Elementary School to the shallow culvert near Waltham and Dublin Rds. where her battered body was discovered.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/22/80) According to UA Police Chief Kenneth Borror, “‘We were able to pretty much determine her (Asenath’s) route home…and the point of entry into the field where she was found…. However, the dog showed us there was a slight deviation from her normal route.’” (Columbus Dispatch 6/22/80) The UAPD did not explain how the car-abduction theory correlates with the findings of the tracking dog. Furthermore, police did not explain why, if Asenath had been abducted and driven to the culvert, her school papers and umbrella were found in the small clearing on the grounds of First Community Village. (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80) The small clearing was approximately 300-450 feet away from the culvert. (Columbus Citizen-Journal 6/5/80; Columbus Dispatch 6/5/80; UA News 6/11/80) And finally, police never reconciled the car-abduction theory with the two witnesses who saw a man carrying a large object towards the creek bed at approximately 4:00 p.m. on the day of the murder.
Eventually, the Dukats also discounted “the theory that a man riding a red 10-speed bicycle attacked their daughter.” (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81) But they also found it “difficult…to believe” the car-abduction theory. “‘She would not have gone voluntarily with anyone,’” Asenath’s mother said. (Columbus Citizen-Journal 5/18/81)
Finally, after leaving the UAPD in 1991, Thomas French supposedly “revealed a new theory about the slaying that he [had] never discussed publicly: Asenath was removed from the scene for two hours then brought back.” (Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91) Although French claimed this was a new theory, it is very similar to the car-abduction theory the UAPD first shared in November 1980. Regardless, UA Police Chief Tom Kulp said, “Those are just Tom French’s speculations…. They have never been proved – there were no witnesses that came forward.” (Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91)
( In June 1990, the UAPD may have returned to the red-bike theory in relation to a new suspect. The possible return to the red-bike theory will be discussed in the next chapter.)
Roughly 20 girls were followed by male motorists near Barrington School between 9/79 and 6/80.
On June 22nd, 1980 it was reported that UA Police requested the service of a police dog that was initially brought to Columbus from Pennsylvania to help investigate a series of bank robberies. The German Shepherd "Snuffy" was given a swatch of Asenath's clothing and was able to retrace her steps from Barrington Road Elementary to the culvert where she was found. Police Chief Kenneth Borror stated, "We were able to pretty much determine her route home and her entry into the field where she was found, however the dog showed us a slight deviation from her normal route." [Columbus Dispatch 6/22/80]. The deviation in her route was never shared publicly nor it's relevance to the case until now. You can see the map below.
Some law enforcement officers questioned the accuracy of the results as the policed dog was introduced nearly three weeks after the murder to an exposed crime scene and surrounding area.
In 1990, UAPD detectives sent evidence collected at the crime scene to the FBI’s DNA testing lab in Washington, D.C. (Columbus Dispatch 5/22/90; Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91) Investigators hoped DNA evidence could identify Asenath’s killer, especially because all previous forensic tests – blood, hair, and fingerprints – failed to solve the crime.
The UAPD also hoped an updated psychological profile would help lead to an arrest. Various psychological profiles of Asenath’s killer had been prepared over the course of the investigation. But the FBI prepared the most definitive profile in February 1990. According to this profile, Asenath’s killer:
Based on this new profile, the UAPD announced in May 1990 that they had a prime suspect in Asenath’s murder. “Although police identified their suspect after the slaying, [Police Chief Tom] Kulp said the man recently became a ‘prime suspect’ because he fits a new FBI profile of the killer.” (Columbus Dispatch 5/22/90) Kulp also said this suspect “was seen the day of the murder in the area where Asenath’s body was found.” (Columbus Dispatch 5/22/90) Similarly, the UA News reported this suspect “was observed at the scene of the crime June 3, 1980.” (UA News May 1990)
Police hoped that DNA testing would lead to the arrest of the suspect identified through the FBI’s psychological profile. “Kulp refused to say what [would] be tested, except that evidence collected at the murder scene [would] be compared with evidence collected from a suspect. If necessary, police [would] seek search warrants to obtain additional test samples from the suspect.” (Columbus Dispatch 5/22/90)
Despite all this, a somewhat conflicting account emerged less than two weeks later – in a June 3, 1990 Columbus Dispatch article. (Of course, June 3, 1990, was the 10th anniversary of Asenath’s murder.) According to this article, the prime suspect was identified not through the FBI profile, but through the legwork of Sergeant Thomas French and Detective Ed Tyne. Specifically, the Dispatch reported: “Inspiration coupled with fresh perspective and a lucky break have led to a new suspect in the unsolved rape and beating death of Asenath Dukat…. ‘We came up with a fresh idea and a lucky break at the same time. We put it all together and we think we found the guy, French said.’’ (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90)
According to the June 3, 1990 article, the new “suspect’s name [appeared] in an index file of 5,000 names collected during the investigation.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90) Of the 5,000 names collected, only 500 were considered suspects. “The new suspect was gleaned from the other 4,500, French said.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90)
Sources told the Dispatch this suspect “is a former Upper Arlington resident who moved from Ohio after the slaying. One law enforcement source said the suspect is either incarcerated or under investigation for crimes outside Ohio.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90)
The June 3, 1990 article does not mention the FBI’s latest psychological profile, but the article does confirm that evidence was “sent to several forensic labs, including a DNA lab operated by the FBI.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90)
Curiously, despite the red-bike theory having been dropped in late 1980, the June 3, 1990 article reported (1) that witnesses “have told police they saw a man riding a red bicycle about the time of the killing” and (2) that Sergeant French believed “the red bicycle will tie in to the new suspect.” (Columbus Dispatch 6/3/90) Beyond that, the June 3, 1990 article and accompanying graphic correspond with the initial theory that Asenath was dragged into First Community Village near the corner of Waltham and Hillside.
Obviously, the May 22, 1990 article and the June 3, 1990 article present differing accounts of the “prime suspect” and the information leading to that suspect’s identification. We have often wondered which version of the story is correct. Did a man who was at or near the scene of the crime become the prime suspect because of the FBI’s profile? Or did “fresh perspective” and a “lucky break” turn a non-suspect into the prime suspect? And why did the UAPD release two different stories surrounding the DNA tests? We are working to get these questions answered.
Regardless of who the “prime suspect” was, or how police determined his identity, no arrests were ever made. Unfortunately, “evidence samples sent to the FBI’s DNA testing lab in Washington did not have enough genetic material left in them to allow DNA tests to be completed.” (Columbus Dispatch 10/7/91)
As we examine reports and witness accounts we stumble across items that raise an eyebrow. We wanted to share with you an example. You will see that it could mean something or be a completely unrelated coincidence.
On June 3rd, 1985, exactly 5 years to the day of 8 year old Asenath Dukat's rape and murder, a man walking his dog discovered the following young girls clothing in Miller Park. Miller park is less than a mile from the location of Seannie's murder. They were found in the morning at 7:16am, were wet from dew in the grass meaning they were likely left at night:
- blue shorts
- a toothbrush
- a blue top (size 8)
- a pair of white socks
- a pair of white tennis shoes
- an apple core
There is reason to believe Seannie had eaten an apple roughly 30 minutes to an hour prior to her death.
The UAPD police quickly checked with Hillard police as they were searching for a missing 13 year old girl that had similar clothing. The clothing turned out to not belong to the missing Hillard child, so the origins are unknown.
Again, this is one of the many curious entries we find in our research and do not know who put the clothes there, who the clothes belongs to, why they were left there and if there is any relation to the case.
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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.