CINCINNATI -- A grand jury indicted a former employee of a Cincinnati coroner’s office with the abuse of a corpse more than two decades ago, WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported.
Prosecutors said Kenneth Douglas, 55, of Westwood, Ohio, sexually assaulted the body of 19-year-old Karen Range, who was murdered during an attempted rape Aug. 19, 1982, at her home.
She had been severely beaten and had her throat slashed with a paring knife.
David Steffen was sentenced to death in 1983 for her murder, but his attorneys had argued at trial that he did not rape her.
Investigators said they were unable to eliminate Steffen as a rape suspect by using a blood test on semen found on Range’s body, and DNA testing had not been developed at the time of Steffen’s trial.
A DNA test was performed last year, and Douglas was identified as a suspect after he was convicted March 17 of drug trafficking and ordered to provide a DNA sample.
Investigators discovered that Douglas had worked as a morgue attendant when Range’s body had been at the lab for testing, and prosecutors said he removed her body from a refrigeration unit and sexually assaulted it.
“There are no words to describe the disgust everyone associated with this case feels,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
If convicted, Douglas faces up to 12 months in prison.
Douglas worked for the coroner's office from 1976 to 1992, and prosecutors added that they are investigating whether any other offenses were committed during that period.
"I think we have an obligation to the residents of this county to review every autopsy that occurred in his 16 years of service," Deters said.
Steffen admitted to killing Range and was indicted on two charges related to her slaying, but his attorneys have argued during appeals that his death sentence should be overturned because he had not raped her.