The actual number of bodies abused at the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office by Kenneth Douglas may never be known.
That sobering assessment came from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters Thursday in announcing two new charges against the former Westwood man, who worked at the morgue for 16 years.
"I think it’s fair to say he was probably doing this all the time," Deters said.
Douglas is in prison for sexually abusing the body of 1982 murder victim Karen Range.
The new charges involve two women who died in 1991: Charlene Appling Edwards, who was strangled to death in Avondale; and Angela Hicks, who was either pushed out of or fell from a third-story window in the Over-the-Rhine.
"This guy is just a pig," Deters exclaimed. "I can’t explain why someone would do something like this."
After it was determined that Douglas had abused Range’s body, investigators combed thousands of records to see if any other abuse cases could be verified.
They found 15 that still had evidence that could be used for DNA testing.
"Of the 15, only 12 had DNA we could use for matching purposes," Deters said. "Of those 12, we had two matches."
Both belonged to Douglas.
However, he added what scares him the most is that there were more victims.
"His number, from when he has been questioned, has gone from one to three or four, to a lot, to maybe over 100," Deters stated,
The problem is without evidence to prove a case in court beyond a reasonable doubt, no additional counts are likely against Douglas.
"I feel very badly for families that are never going to know what happened because that’s the situation we have here," Deters said. "He doesn’t know and we have no more evidence."
When families of Edwards and Hicks received the news about their daughters, Deters said they were shocked and devastated.
He extended his sympathy to both.
He also publicly endorsed an effort to toughen Ohio’s punishment for abusing a corpse.
It currently is a maximum of 18-months in prison, but Ohio State Representative Dale Mallory has proposed a bill in the General Assembly to increase it to five years.
The cases involving Douglas occurred well before the current county coroner, Dr. O’dell Owens, was elected to office.
He has instituted a number of policy changes to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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