Funeral Industry News

Ohio Morgue Worker Sentenced for Sex with Corpse

February 15, 2010

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Ohio Morgue Worker Sentenced for Sex with Corpse

imageSandra Williams was devastated in 1991 when her sister, Charlene Apling Edwards, was killed.

Williams dealt with the grief for years before being told of an even more nightmarish crime – her sister’s body was sexually assaulted by a Hamilton County morgue worker as it was awaiting autopsy.

“I thought burying my sister was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do,” she told Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Nadine Allen. “I thought we could just put it behind us and lay it to rest, but when this happened, I re-lived her death all over again.”

“This” was one of two counts of gross abuse of a corpse for which morgue worker Kenneth Douglas was sentenced Tuesday. In all, Douglas pleaded guilty to having sex with three corpses when he worked at the morgue from 1976-92.

Douglas was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for having sex with the corpses of Apling and Angel Hicks. That’s in addition to the three-year prison term imposed on him in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to having sex with the corpse of Karen Range who was murdered in 1982. He had sex with Range’s corpse which was bloody, its head almost severed and had been stored in the morgue cooler for hours.

Mishael Apling was just a young boy when his mother was killed.

Apling asked the judge Tuesday to send Douglas to prison for the maximum possible sentence.

“He raped a five-months pregnant dead woman,” Apling, now in his mid-20s, said.

The judge said Douglas’ crimes were depraved.

“There’s a reason we say ‘the dearly departed, may they rest in peace.’ What happened he isn’t even primitive. It’s depraved and inhumane,” the judge said.

Douglas, 56, of Westwood, apologized. “There is no excuse for my crime,” Douglas told the judge. “If I wasn’t under the influence, this never would have happened.”

Prosecutor Joe Deters believes Douglas violated many more corpses but he can’t prosecute those cases.

“He was, by his own admission, out of control,” Deters said. “If you extrapolated it, there are many, many corpses he did this to. ‘Scores’ is a good word.” But the prosecutor doesn’t have any evidence to prove those cases even though Douglas confessed to them.

“Just because someone confesses to something doesn’t mean they can be convicted,” Deters said. “We have to have evidence to prove a crime.” After DNA tests matched Douglas to semen in Range’s corpse, officials compared his DNA to body fluids on other corpses during the 16 years Douglas worked at the morgue.

Just two cases – those with Apling and Hicks as the victims – matched Douglas’ DNA.