The Long Walk Home: The Asenath Dukat Project
The Long Walk Home: The Asenath Dukat Project
Asenath Dukat, a friendly third grader.
She always had a sunny smile; Her
Eyes glimmered and sparkled like stars.
Nice, considerate, honest, polite and
Aware of other people’s feelings
The class has happy thoughts of
Her; she will always be remembered
Mrs. Mariruth Seubert’s 3rd Grade Class, June 1980
If you've researched this story or have first hand experience, you know the faith, strength and grace of the Dukat family and their husband & father, Alexander.
Consider this quote, "We have suffered a great loss, but it's not a recurring one. She's gone, but the community may have to go through this again. This case doesn't have to be solved for our benefit. The Lord will deal with this fellow in His own way. We don't wish (the killer) any vengeance. Sometimes we pray for his soul. That he may be saved." He added, "But we are concerned about the safety of others. He may try to wreak this tragedy on someone else. I can't picture a person who is capable of rape and murder living a normal life. I am sure we will hear from him in one way or another." - Alexander Dukat [UA News, Vol. 25, No.49, 8/6/80].
Asenath's father, Alexander, was a highly respected auxiliary fire fighter for UAFD, Station 71. In 1980, roughly six months after Asenath's death, he was called to respond to a fire at a UA home on Christmas Eve whose owners were attending midnight mass. The fire took the lives of their mother, sister and four children that night. Within months, Alexander had experienced arguably the two worst tragedies in UA's history. Despite this he said "Those two people lost their entire family. They survived, we'll survive" and added, "Just when you think it's bad, there is always somebody a little worse off." [Columbus Citizen Journal, Vol.1, No. 163. 1981].
Alexander J. Dukat passed away in 1998 at the age of 57.
- The Long Walk Home Team, January 2019
Hello. My name is Ellen Clark, and I live in Upper Arlington.
Thank you for everything you have done, and are continuing to do, regarding this project of love and truth. I applaud your efforts, and even without knowing who you are, I sincerely love, admire, and respect each one of you for your relentless devotion, not only to the resolution of this case, but also to Darling Seannie's memory.
I was a 6th grade teacher at Barrington Elementary School at the time this crime occurred, and Seannie's older sister, Bethany, was one of my students. I'm sure you can understand how invested I was, not only in Bethany, but also in the entire Dukat Family, by the end of our school year together. Seannie's big brown eyes and that SMILE (you all remember that genuinely innocent, sincerely joyous smile she wore all the time, right?) appeared around the corner of our second-floor doorway at the end of each school day, when Seannie arrived to pick up Bethany, and the girls would begin their walk, or bike ride, home together. Like you, I have suffered for a long time because of this murder, and I think about it an incredible amount of the time, never understanding why it remained unsolved.
I have been blessed that Bethany has chosen to stay in touch with me all these years. As her teacher in 1980, I was just 29 years old and Bethany was 12. She is now 54 and I am 71 years old, and we have enjoyed a lovely, meaningful bond throughout these decades. I love Bethany like a daughter. I wish I could adequately thank you for all the time and effort you've given toward leading to the resolution of this case. I sincerely appreciate your sensitive treatment of the Dukat Family, your insistence on forever maintaining and honoring Seannie's memory, and perhaps most importantly, your dedication to finding the WHOLE TRUTH.
Please know that those who cared about Seannie also appreciate, and care a great deal about, this extremely important work you're doing. I'm glad to know that, as you said in your statement yesterday, you are not stopping just because the case has been declared "closed." Closed by the authorities, perhaps, but hopefully not "sealed."
Thank you again.
My sister and I remember walking home from Barrington and often being in the same group of people as I was friends with her neighors and remember playing with the Dukat family when I would spend the night on Malvern. My sister and I were interviewed by Officer Tyne as we had to walk back to school that day as my sister had dropped a book that we found at the corner of Guilford and Waltham. We remember kids still walking home at that time, it would have been her class getting out, but we didn’t notice anything unusual between Guilford and Devon road that day.
All my love to the Dukat family. Thank you for putting this together, I had no idea what the evidence and all of UA’s police work had actually produced.
- Scott Stevenson
How quickly the years have flown by! Many, many thanks to all of you who have worked so hard to put this website together, with details that I didn’t know until just now. I do remember how quickly word spread after dear Seannie was so cruelly murdered. As a parent, living near Northam Park, at the time, I remember my own tears of sorrow, my worry for the safety of my own children, and being overwhelmed with prayers & compassion for the suffering of the Dukat family! At a later date, when I first met Marty at my house, in a class I was teaching on making “pisanki” (Polish wax-resist dyed Easter eggs), I was blessed, by God, with the beginning of an unexpected & beautiful friendship with the Dukat family.
I am grateful for our wonderful, supportive, Upper Arlington community and for our Police Officers, who have worked so hard to solve this case. We are One Human Race. One Family. Remembering Seannie, on this 40th anniversary of her death, and in light of all the problems & injustices in today’s world, I think of what Mother Teresa said: If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
TODAY, in our hearts, we all stand with the Dukat family, honoring the life of dear Seannie! May her soul Rest In Peace!
- Carol Crooks
My husband and I are 65 years old. We have raised 5 daughters. We were living on the far east side of Columbus when Asenath Dukat was killed in June 1980, Our oldest daughter is 41 now, but was just 15 months old at the time. I remember hearing about it. It scared me to think of the possibility of this happening to my own daughter. I kept it in the back of my mind as we raised her and the rest of our daughters, especially when I would hear of other similar stories of evil people abducting and harming children. Now we have 5 grandchildren.
Then in the early 2000's, our kids were half grown. My husband took a second job that involved him delivering batches of suburban newspapers once a week in the evening to homes in Upper Arlington. Sometimes I would ride with him. We pulled up to one of the houses one evening. My husband grabbed the bundle of papers to leave on the front porch. He told me that there was something that looked like a memorial in the flower garden in front of the living room window of this house. He wanted me to see it. So I got out of the car and looked at it. It had a plaque with the name "Asenath Dukat" on it. I told my husband about my memory of reading about the murder of this little girl as she walked home from school many years ago. He had not remembered this. He said he was delivering papers to a lady named Marty Dukat. We did not realize at the time that this was the home of Asenath until just today when we read this article. We thought it was probably the home of a relative.
I've done some Bible reading recently. I found the name "Asenath" in Genesis and realized that this was where her parents got her name from. I'm very thankful that I found this website. I think I have read all of it. I too have felt the need for closure for this. So even though I have never lived in Upper Arlington, I do feel a connection to this story, somehow. It keeps pulling at my heartstrings.
May God bring all of us to the Truth and set us free from all that is not of Him. Let justice be done. May God continue to bless you all in this work you are doing. And may He continue to bless the Dukat family.
- Debbie Stevens
I was a friend of Asenath's at Barrington Elementary School. We met in math lab. I remember her as always smiling. The last time I ever saw Asenath was on a warm day in 1980. I'm not sure if it was June 3, but it may have been because we made plans to play together the day after my last encounter with her and those plans never materialized.
I attended the informal classes and, if memory serves, Asenath was in the traditional building. I used to be bullied at school and on this particular day, I had been unmercifully bullied by boys in my class. There was also an older boy who used to bully me on my walk home from school. To avoid the agony of further bullying, I stayed behind after school let out so that the coast would be clear for my walk home and I could avoid encountering the older bully on my way home. As I was walking across the empty field between the informal annex and the traditional building, I heard someone calling my name; it was Asenath. I waited for her to catch up with me and then we walked towards the steps behind the baseball diamond's home plate, which lead to the corner of Northwest Blvd. and Guilford Road. We walked down the steps and when we got to the foot of the stairs, Asenath asked me if I would like to go home with her to play. I told her that I would like to, but that I needed to get home because I was running late and my mother would worry about me. I told her, however, that I would ask my mother if I could go to her house to play tomorrow. She said "okay." We said "goodbye" to each other. I remember waiting for the light to change so that I could cross the street and walk down Guilford Road. Asenath walked down Northwest Blvd. towards Barrington Road. I remember watching her as she walked. She was less than halfway to Barrington Road when she turned around, smiled and waved at me. I waved back and then crossed the street. That was the last time I remember ever seeing her.
The next thing I remember is pure chaos not long after that day, it may have even been the next day. I remember seeing car after car after car along Northwest Blvd. sometime after my last encounter with Asenath. I think there might have even been news cameras. Parents were driving and walking their kids to school. I remember asking for Asenath but no one would tell me anything. One evening, I saw her picture appear on the news. I called out for my mother to tell her that Asenath's picture was on the news and I was ordered to go to my bedroom. Despite my efforts to find out about my friend, no adult ever spoke to me about her. I didn't know why she was absent from school until one day when I, a very blonde-haired boy and several other students were huddled together during recess. The blonde-haired boy told us something about a red bike and that Asenath had been murdered, raped and thrown in a ditch. Until recently, I thought Asenath had been left in a ditch at Miller Park near the tunnel. I remember someone mentioning Miller Park. I also remember that none of the kids knew what it meant to be raped, but we knew what it meant to be murdered. I remember being horrified and then going numb.
I have agonized over my last encounter with Asenath. Wondering if my last encounter with her was the day she was abducted. Whether she would still be alive had I walked home with her. That I should have thought to invite her home with me, but I was so emotionally exhausted from the bullying that day, that I didn't have the energy to interact with anyone and I wanted to be alone.
I would like to say one thing about Asenath. The first time I ever met her, I felt like I was being wrapped in a furry blanket. I understand now what that feeling meant. It would never have occurred to me to describe her this way when I was 9 years old, but Asenath had a beautiful soul. She was warmth and kindness.
I am so grateful that you have created this project and that you are following her case and reporting back to us.
I played Ching Chang with Seenie the day she died. She was my partner at lunch recess. My Mom received a call from a parent (not Seenie’s) that afternoon at about 4:30 wondering if she had come home with me by chance. Room parents were calling any and all friends to make sure Seenie wasn’t at someone else’s house. I wasn’t in her class but they must have known we were friends or were together that day at recess.
The next evening, two detectives came to our house to ask me questions. Did Seenie say anything about being followed? About meeting someone? Anything? I was in the second grade. Seenie And I just talked about diamond, double square and buying lunch that day.
She was a great Ching Chang partner and we were a good match (same height, same jumps, longer legs) I don’t want to brag but we were a force on the black top with the Ching Chang game. When the detectives came, I could offer no help. They were in suits and my Mom was there at the dining room table with me. I remember it like it was yesterday.
I’ve been wanting to share but it’s been such a tender part of my memory..... that’s the first time I actually articulated it/wrote it out.
Wonderful family. My heart always broke for the loss of Seannie. We were told about it once we were old enough to walk home from school.
I wasn't born until 5 years after this happened, but my grandparents lived right next door to the Dukats and then we went on to live in the house so I grew up next to them, their son and my brother were best friends. My mother still lives there. I remember hearing the story as a child and playing over by First Community and the feeling I felt when I was near that underpass. We played in those very creeks where she was found. I always felt her presence there. We were reminded to always be careful of our surroundings because of sweet little Seanie, who was taken far too young. I appreciated reading through your website and learning more about this horrible incident. Her mother is a wonderful woman and was a great neighbor to me for many years. I always felt so terrible that her family had suffered this tragedy.
She will never be forgotten and this page is a wonderful way to help ensure that.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Asenath Dukat but I grew up with the Dukat family as they very close friends with my parents.
I remember hearing stories about her and have seen many pictures of her hanging in her family’s home. I remember when I was young, seeing the pictures but not understanding why she was never there when we went to visit. I was vaguely told what happened to her when I was older (around 10yrs old) but I could never really grasp how her family went on with life after losing Asenath. Her family has always been super sweet, loving, caring and wonderful people.
I was shocked by the passing of her father but I knew he had reunited with her in heaven. Her mother is a very strong woman and I’ve always admired her strength.
I pray that whoever took Asenath’s life is identified and that justice is served.
I was in Mrs Seubert’s third grade class with Seannie. I remember my parents getting a call asking whether I had seen her after school that day, and I had not. My mom or dad asked the person on the phone how we could help find her, and our family was tasked with driving over to the homes of two classmates who weren’t answering the phone. I don’t remember exactly the time of this request but my dad was home from work, so it was probably after 5 pm. (Unless he has come home early because of this issue. His office was not far away).
Dad and I got in the car and drove to one classmate's house. I think it was on Guilford Road but I don’t remember the students name. He left me in the car with the car running (oh how unsafe!) and went to talk to the folks in the house. They were home and let him in.
He was in the house a long time from an 8-year-olds perspective. I decided to get out and see what was happening. To be safe, I decided to lock the car door. Since the car was running, this meant I locked the keys in the car. We had to call my mom with the spare set to come over and unlock the car.
In retrospect, dad was probably in the house so long because he was learning the news of what happened to Seannie.
After that, we drove over to Seannie’s street. I think my dad thought he would try to be helpful to the Dukats. However there were a ton of cars and police vehicles around so we did not stop. I still had not been told what had happened. I saw Mrs Seubert leaving the Dukats house and she was really really upset. I had never seen a teacher crying before.
Dad drove us straight home. Mom and dad sat me down in the kitchen and told me what had happened. I remember mom telling me I would not be allowed to walk to school anymore. I remember mom and dad hugging and crying in front of the kitchen sink. It was a horrible day.
Ingrid Eriksson White
Part of what I “remember” about the day leading up to Seannie Dukat’s murder on June 3, 1980, and then the weeks and months after it, probably has been told to me by my parents, or informed by some of the many articles, blogs, and message boards I’ve read since. I don’t specifically remember being kept after school for a 10-minute, whole-class detention, but I do remember that our 3rdgrade teacher, Mrs. Seubert, would get pretty irritated with us. I know we were a chatty bunch, and we could be ornery. I think that, for most of us, this wasn’t our first detention of the year. It certainly wasn’t mine. This day, we must have been particularly rotten, as this was a couple of days before school was out. Plus, I’ve dealt with 8- and 9-year-olds at swim meets for many years, and self-control isn’t typically at the forefront of their soft skills repertoire.
That afternoon, though, the memories are all mine.
I remember the first phone call. My mom asked me if I’d seen Seannie after school. I remember her seeming worried, and I remember feeling a combination nervous and sick feeling in my stomach. I will never forget that feeling. I didn’t really understand why I felt it; something just seemed wrong. Then, not long after that first phone call, the second phone call came, saying that she had been found. I don’t specifically remember crying, but I remember that my parents and our neighbors were all really upset and that the sick feeling didn’t go away. I remember wondering why this happened and thinking she must have been so scared.
The next day, I remember people crying at school. I remember police officers being there, but that we kids weren’t told very much. I remember thinking that people who got called to the office to talk to the police must be in trouble, but I didn’t understand how, exactly. The feeling in my stomach was still there. This was before the age of grief counselors or any sort of outlet like that, and I remember thinking we shouldn’t really talk about it.
In the weeks following, I remember the creepy sketch that the police circulated, and the “safety spots” that cropped up in houses all around town. Our parents told us that if we ever didn’t feel safe, we could go to any one of the houses that had a “safety spot” in the window and get help.
Eventually, the feeling in my stomach went away. Summer vacation came and went and memories of events after her murder probably aren’t all my own again, but none of us has ever forgotten. Our class finished elementary school, middle school, high school, and most (if not all) of us finished college. Many of us have kids of our own now. Most of us who were in the class that day weren’t able to follow the investigation ourselves or do anything to help. I think it’s probably why I think about Seannie all the time, and why I feel a huge sense of responsibility as her classmate, as a mom, and as a UA graduate, to help in any way I can now.
Tracy Sexton Plummer
I always wondered about the outcome of this case and it very much bothered me that it was never solved. I didn't know her but I was the same age attending St. Agatha and would go on to become very best friends in high school with twins that were her very best friends in 3rd grade, who were interviewed that day she was lost.
Maybe I would have known her.
I attended Greensview then moving from "new UA" to "old UA" and switched to St. Agatha. I remember that day they sent us home from school with rudimentary sketches of the person they thought was the killer. I was terrified holding the xerox and walking home because I too walked home over a mile by myself from St. Agatha to Tremont/South Parkway, but I didn't have to pass any woods. I remember the boy I liked at the time's bicycle was initially thought to be part of the crime scene at first (bc he had left his bike down at the ravine behind his house). I really don't know anything else but I always thought it was strange that around the same time my sisters and I started receiving disgusting prank calls (from an adult man). At that time it was customary for households to have a main phone number and a "children's telephone number" so they didn't tie up the lines for the adults.
I hope you find more clues and find out the awful person who did this!!! Also, forgot a UA friend who was in her grade at Jones (we actually were talking about this case at a reunion several years ago) she said a man in a pickup truck asked her if she wanted to see his dog in the car (she was on her bicycle and said no) Northwest/Zollinger area .... but again, she was being lured in UA. I think she was a little older at that time say 4th-5th grade.
I remember as if it were yesterday, in fact it’s haunted me since I was 10 years old... A couple days before she was murdered I was riding my bike home from the Grandview Pool. It was actually the first time I rode home alone, my best friend had to leave early. A man on a red bike appeared almost out of nowhere and asked me what I was doing, my name, etc. He had dark brown hair, blue or green eyes, a Cincinnati Reds T-shirt, a ball cap, and blue jeans. I immediately felt like I was in a danger so I made sure to study his face and lie to him when he asked my name. I said my name was Karen Coleman and that I was going to my babysitter’s house (I never had a babysitter, my mom was the one of the well known babysitters in our town). If I were to head home I would have to pass near Wyman Woods and for some reason I feared he would harm me. I instead headed to a friend’s house who had just left the pool and lived close by. He rode right beside me and told me his name was Andy. He said wanted to be friends, which was so bizarre to me because he was a grown man, my adult guess is he was 22-28 years old. I rode through a well traveled and open alley and pulled my bike into her backyard and closed the gate. He told to make sure I came back and that he would wait for me. I was so terrified that I walked right into the kitchen door without knocking!! I told her teenage cousin what happened and that I needed to call my mom. We looked out the upstairs bedroom window and he was staring at the house while circling a nearby parking lot. The phone was turned off because they were moving or something, so the teenager tells me to take her bike off the front porch and ride home as fast as I could... (Not the smartest solution). Well I did and when I got home and told my mom she called the police. By the time they checked the parking lot, he was gone...
I 100% feel divine intervention or pure instinct saved my life that day... June 1st, 1980, a breezy Sunday afternoon...
I remember the loss of Seenie deeply. Mrs. Dukat watched me from the time I was about 6 weeks old. Seenie and I were good friends and I still picture us at birthday parties together and playing in the basement at the Dukat house. My knowledge of her initial disappearance was seeing her picture on the news as I stood in my parents bedroom. I asked why she was on tv and remember my Mother quickly turning off the tv. I don’t recall being told anything right then. The next day, I remember as much as being told she had died. Not what had happened as to the kidnapping or what occurred, just that she had died. Kids at school quickly filled in what happened in the days, weeks and months to come-but never an answer as to who or why. For years I’ve been haunted by it and have read the details of the account although it’s taken me a long time to be able to read it all. I recall the safety spots. I knew they were somewhere safe to go, but as someone close to the family, they were also a reminder of her every time I saw them.
Seannie was very kind and open hearted. I was younger than her and she always made me a part of the “big kids”, even though I was only a couple years younger. I didn’t have a sister, but she treated me like one. I remember her eyes would always light up and she met people with a hug. She had a cute little sideways grin. I wore my hair parted in the center like she did and remember her being encouraging.
Her mom, Marty, once made us egg salad sandwiches for lunch and I recall-don’t know why-thinking I'd never get through. Not because it wasn’t good food, I just didn’t like eggs. I recall her sitting with me when all the other kids were gone from the table so I wasn’t alone. That was just her. I have a picture of us sitting in my parents backyard eating cupcakes-in dresses and blouses! Who does that in the summer!!!
I am encouraged by the group here and the outlet to share.
Elizabeth Miclette, UAHS 1991
I remember it well. I was 10 years old. I remember the safety spots that sprang up in the aftermath. It was orange with a black dot. Mrs. Tarbox had one in her window. I only lived 4 houses from Greensview with a bee line to my house and I was scared to walk home. I remember the sketch that appeared in the UA News, I had a few nightmares. I even slept on my parents bedroom floor once or twice. Innocence was lost on June 3, 1980. It is a testament to the Upper Arlington character that 40 years has not diminished Asenath's life or memory. I never knew her for she lived south of Lane, but I felt like I knew her I hope her family has found love and peace. As I type this post, I am beginning to cry. It still hurts!!!! Rest in peace sweet girl! God bless her family. To my peers who knew her, my heart hurts for you too. Sending hugs and prayers. I hope justice is served one day. Thank you to the police and investigators for their tireless efforts.
May God Bless You All.
Karen Williams UAHS 1988
I was forever changed.
I still am.
This was 40 yers ago for me. I was a student in first grade at St. Agatha, 7 yers old. I walked to school everyday with my sister age 6 from school to College Hill and North Star which as an adult I’m now realizing is pretty far. Even then I knew my parents were not thinking this idea was good but I did it.
The suspect image that was circulated is burned into my brain. Remember ‘Safety Spots’ houses? I was scared to hell to walk. I’d look and count where they were and can still identify those houses. So afraid I wouldn’t go in our own basement without my sister, brother, parent or the dog. I’d make my mom call the neighbor’s house directly behind us to check the bushes for that man before I’d go. Finally I’ve had the courage to seek out this page for information. So many buzz words and memories flooded me. Recalling this man took an 8yr. old and I was 7, she had brown hair and I was blonde, we used the big library and Tremont pool not Jones, I knew what a red 10 speed looked liked because I really wanted a bike, I recall thinking even the trees were thick and different down in that area whereas we had more bushes... all of those variables somewhat comforted me but I never felt safe walking again.
Perhaps her tragic death was meant to bring UA a lifetime of better awareness? That’s the only bright side I can handle until this case is solved. A death of innocence that will forevermore change children and adults with haunting heartsickness to this day.
Thank you for allowing me an outlet here. I still pray for her.
- Cara Sanderson Brown
I just cant believe its been 39 years this month that this happened. I never got to meet her because I was born 5 years after this happened but her mother was my fathers cousin and I always heard her grandmother which was my dad's aunt talk about it sometimes.
It was so sad to see her cry about it. I just hope that justice is served and the one who did this suffers.
- Eugene Florczyk
I was about 10 yrs old. Lived on Grandview Avenue when this happened. I did not know her but we all knew what happened. Before it happened all us kids walked, rode our bikes all around town with no fear.
After it happened we were no longer able to do that. I was afraid to walk around my neighborhood. I really really hope this person is found and brought to justice!
- Melinda Whitney
This was a poignant moment in my childhood when everything changed for all of us forever. I remember Seannie on the playground, and especially the monkey bars like it was yesterday.
Thank you all for doing this.
I will never understand why anyone would want to kill an 8 year old girl who was loved by every one. I miss her and there are days that if she was alive what kinds of things she would have been able to do.
I will never forget that day of 06/03 /1980 this year will be the 40th anniversary of her murder. She was my neighbor and friend she was a very special young lady who was taken way too soon. Her sister Bethany Dukat was in my graduating class.
She will never be forgotten.
- Paige Halley
I lived on Mount Holyoke when I first heard about Seenie's murder. I was in third grade, so about her age but did not attend UA schools. I went to Our Lady Of Peace Catholic school in Clintonville.
I was always so scared because she was my age and just walking home from school. I cannot forget this case as it is unfathomable to me that it remains unsolved.
- Julie Verhoff Pipes
My mom used to take by brother and me to the Dukat’s house to be watched by Mrs. Dukat during our preschool years. I then went to Tremont Elementary and would walk to and from school every day. On a particular June day, I remember walking out of school to find my mom and everyone else’s moms waiting at the curb to pick us up. My mom informed me that Seannie had been found murdered the day before. She was only a year older than me and I just couldn’t believe it. I tell this story to people a few times every year, still in disbelief that this happened and has never been solved.
- Cybil Bean Cassady
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.