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Ralph L. LYNCH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Child molester - Necrophilia
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 24, 1998
Date of arrest: July 3, 1998
Date of birth: October 5, 1949
Victim profile: Mary Jennifer Love (female, 6)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 19, 1999

The Supreme Court of Ohio


State v. Lynch, 98 Ohio St.3d 514, 2003-Ohio-2284


In the Court of Appeals
First Appellate District of Ohio


State v. Lynch, 2001-Ohio-3914

State v. Lynch, 2006-Ohio-5076


On June 24, 1998, Lynch lured six-year-old Mary Jennifer Love into his apartment in Colerain Township, Hamilton County, Ohio. Lynch began to molest the little girl. To stifle her screams, he strangled her with his hands for three minutes.

Once she was dead, Lynch took Love to the bathtub, where he sexually abused her lifeless body. He then placed her body in a vacuum-cleaner box and removed it from his apartment. He dumped her body on a wooded lot off of Breezy Acres and covered it with an old rug. He disposed of her clothing at his employer’s work site.

Love’s parents alerted police that she was missing. A search of the neighborhood was unsuccessful. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents canvassed the neighborhood, looking for persons who had seen Love. The agents interviewed Lynch. His demeanor and responses aroused their interest in him. He said that he had recently met Love and had spoken to her, but had no knowledge of her whereabouts.

The next day, Hamilton County sheriff’s deputies questioned Lynch to obtain additional information. Lynch was cooperative and went to a police station for more questioning. At the station, another officer, not involved in the search for Love, noticed Lynch and informed the investigators that he had previously arrested Lynch for exposing himself to a child.

Lynch was informed of his Miranda rights and signed a written waiver. He was interrogated and admitted touching young girls in his apartment in the past. He conceded that he had touched Love outside his apartment. Lynch was permitted to leave the station when the interrogation concluded.

On July 3, 1998, at the request of police, Lynch returned to the station. After he executed another waiver-of-rights form, police questioned Lynch about inconsistencies in his previous statements. During five hours of questioning, he admitted harboring sexual fantasies about children and offered, “She’s on Breezy Acres.” He led police to Love’s remains and admitted that he was responsible for killing Love. A recording of Lynch’s confession was made and was played for the jury in his trial.

Lynch was indicted on three separate counts of aggravated murder and one count each of rape, kidnapping, and gross abuse of a corpse. Each aggravated-murder count was accompanied by four death-penalty specifications: that Lynch had purposely killed Love to escape detection or apprehension after committing the offense of rape; that after committing or attempting to commit the offense of rape, Lynch was the principal offender in the commission of the aggravated murder; that after committing or attempting to commit the offense of kidnapping, Lynch was the principal offender in the commission of the aggravated murder; and that Lynch was the principal offender and had purposely caused the death of Love, a child under thirteen years of age.


Jurors recommended death penalty

Jurors recommended that Ralph L. Lynch receive the death penalty, saying they did not agree with defense arguments that his childhood of sexual abuse mitigated the strangling of his 6-year-old neighbor, Mary Jennifer Love.  

A jury of 7 men and 5 women recommended that Mr. Lynch be sentenced to death on each of the 3 counts of aggravated murder during the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial. 

Carol and Mark Williams, parents of the young girl killed by Lynch in his apartment on June 24, 1998, said justice was served with the death sentence. The couple clutched hands as the verdict was read.  "I heard exactly what I've been waiting 14 months to hear," said a teary-eyed Mrs. Williams.

She left the courtroom holding a photo button of her daughter. In the photo, the young girl wears colorful beads on her braids. "I'm extremely happy."  Mrs. Williams said she plans to attend Lynch's execution and will be carrying a picture of the girl.  "I want him to see her face when he goes," she said.


Court Upholds Lynch Convictions, Death Sentence

Supreme Court of Ohio - Case Summaries

May 14, 2003

The Ohio Supreme Court today unanimously rejected 22 assignments of legal or procedural error by the trial court and upheld the convictions and death sentence of Ralph Lynch of Cincinnati for the 1998 kidnapping, rape and murder of 6-year-old Mary Jennifer Love.

Lynch admitted inviting Love into his apartment to eat popcorn and watch television, engaging in sexual contact with her and, when she screamed, placing his hands around her neck and squeezing for three minutes. Lynch alleged that his intent was to stop the girl from screaming, not to kill her. After several days, the FBI and local police identified Lynch as a suspect and interrogated him several times under different circumstances. He ultimately confessed to police that he had molested and strangled Love, and led them to her body. Lynch was charged with aggravated murder with death penalty specifications, based on the aggravating circumstances that the crime was committed during the commission of other felonies (rape and kidnapping), and that the victim was a child under 13 years of age. He was found guilty and sentenced to death in October 1999.

In asking the Supreme Court to reverse the trial court's verdict and/or set aside his death sentence, Lynch's attorneys included arguments that a change of venue should have been granted because of public outrage and heavy local publicity in Cincinnati about the child murder; that Lynch received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that prosecutors made inflammatory and prejudicial statements about Lynch to the jury during the sentencing phase of the trial.

The court's opinion, written by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, rejected these and all other assignments of error. The decision focused at some length on a claim that the trial court erred in not granting a defense request that Lynch, who has a reported IQ of 72, be allowed to be guided by his lawyer using a question-and-answer format when he made an unsworn statement to the jury during the sentencing phase.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice Moyer noted that, while "Ohio and several other states permit defendants to present an unsworn statement to the jury during the penalty phase of a capital trial, … the majority view does not support a holding that a defendant has a constitutional right even to make an unsworn statement, let alone an unsworn statement in a question-and-answer format," Moyer wrote.

He went on to hold that, while the trial court in Lynch's case did not abuse its discretion in denying the defense's request, "the trial court would have acted within its discretion by allowing the defendant to use a question and answer format in making an unsworn statement."

Judge William H. Wolff, Jr. of the 2nd District Court of Appeals sat in place of Justice Deborah L. Cook in the case.



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