Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 4 - 5
Date of murders: 1975 - 1977
Date of arrest: November 1977
Date of birth: 1949
Victims profile: Linda Kay Harmon, 17 / Nancy L. Grigsby, 23 / Elaina Marie Bear, 15 / Diana Sue McCrobie, 16 / Mary Ruth Hopkins, 21
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to four life sentences in 1978

In 1978, Larry Ralston received four life sentences for killing four young Tristate women. One conviction was overturned, but in 1984 he received another life sentence for murder.
Somewhere between Chicago and Batavia, in the back seat of a police car, Larry Ralston freed his conscience. "He just started crying, and he said, "I didn't mean to kill any of them,' " recalled Robert Stout, a sheriff's investigator assigned in November 1977 to transport Mr. Ralston to Clermont County, where he faced charges of raping three 15-year-old girls.

The words sent a jolt of electricity through the detective: No one had accused Mr. Ralston of any killings. In a second, Mr. Stout's role had changed from rookie detective to lead investigator and sole interrogator in a string of serial killings. Grueling interrogations over two weeks yielded confessions to five slayings that had stymied police for more than two years. Those admissions landed Larry Ralston in prison with four life sentences.

When police caught up with him, Mr. Ralston was a 28-year-old unemployed dropout of Norwood High School. He had held jobs before at the Hamilton County morgue and a state mental hospital, but at that time, he was living at home or with a short list of friends. Mr. Ralston's father told reporters he had warned his son that his irresponsible lifestyle - sleeping all day, staying out all night and running around with young girls - would bring only trouble. His mother called him a "likable boy" who had a knack for talking to anybody, even if he didn't know them.

The killings began Sept. 3, 1975, with Mrs. Porter's 17-year-old daughter, Linda Kay Harmon. She disappeared while waiting for a bus at Wolfangle Road and Beechmont Avenue, about three blocks from home. It was to be Miss Harmon's first day at Withrow High School after moving from Finneytown. She never made it. Miss Harmon's body parts were found scattered in a wooded area in Felicity 34 days later, after two dogs dragged pieces of her arms to their owner's porch.

A year later, the nude remains of other young women were discovered in shallow graves. Nancy Grigsby, 23, of Withamsville, a disabled woman who frequented bars in Clifton, Madisonville and Mount Lookout, disappeared May 4, 1976, on the way to meet her boyfriend in Fairfax. Hunters discovered her body Nov. 15, 1976, on Moore-Marathon Road in Clermont County's Jackson Township.

Elaina Marie Bear, 15, of Northside was found Feb. 28, 1977, in a creekbed off Katy's Lane near Wilmington in Clinton County. Diana Sue McCrobie, 16, of Springfield Township was found Oct. 22, 1977, covered with brush at East Fork Lake State Park in Clermont County. Police said she dated Mr. Ralston.

Hamilton County authorities would later convict Mr. Ralston in the death of Mary Ruth Hopkins, 21, of Cincinnati's East End. Her naked body with a T-shirt wrapped around the neck was discovered June 30, 1976, off Five Mile Road in Anderson Township.

In taped confessions, played in court, Mr. Ralston told Mr. Stout how he picked up his hitchhiking victims, drove them around drinking wine and smoking marijuana and that he strangled them when they rejected him sexually. "After every murder he did, he would go to (a friend's) house and he said he would turn on the song, "Fly Like An Eagle.' It just put him in a trance, made him feel better about what he did," Mr. Stout said.

Watching people die was a subject Larry Ralston seemed to enjoy talking about, Mr. Stout said. "When he worked at Longview Hospital, one of the things he really got off on was the fact that he had missed his lunch hour, for maybe three or four days, for a week, in order to watch a person die," he recalled from the interviews with Mr. Ralston in November 1977. "He would be taking care of these people, just people in his area. He would know they were dying. He would go watch."


Parole board says no to serial killer

Victims' families welcome the news

By Sheila McLaughlin - The Cincinnati Enquirer

January 27, 1999

Convicted serial killer and rapist Larry Ralston will spend at least the next decade in prison for the murders of four young women in the 1970s.

The Ohio Parole Board denied the former Norwood resident's release Tuesday, even though Mr. Ralston's good behavior has earned him a bed in a dormitory for “privileged” inmates and a job working on Ohio Department of Transportation trucks.

The parole board's denial “was due to the nature of the crime, and they didn't feel he had served enough time,” said Andrea Dean, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

The board, which met with Mr. Ralston at Chillicothe Correctional Institution mid-morning Tuesday, also considered the outcry from the public and victim's families, she said.

More than 400 people signed petitions and wrote letters protesting Mr. Ralston's release.

Mr. Ralston, 49, will be eligible for a parole hearing again in January 2009, Ms. Dean said.

Relatives of the victims said they were elated by the decision.

For Dori Porter, the mother of Mr. Ralston's first vic tim, Linda Kay Harmon, the victory was bittersweet.

“It's one step closer to justice for Linda. I can breathe for a little while,” Mrs. Porter said from her home near Ocala, Fla.

“The bad news is we have to do this again in 10 years.”

Mrs. Porter, 62, met with a member of the parole board last fall, pleading to keep Mr. Ralston in prison.

Darrell Bear, whose sister, Elaina, was 15 when Mr. Ralston raped and strangled her in January 1977, sent a letter to the board last September.

“I don't believe in the death penalty, but I don't think the man should ever be released from jail,” said Mr. Bear, of Colerain Township.

At age 21, he had the terrible task of identifying his sister's body by a small tattoo on her wrist.

Mr. Ralston was sentenced to four life terms for the killings of Miss Harmon, 17, of Mount Washington; Miss Bear, of Northside; Diana Sue McCrobie, 16, of Springfield Township; and Mary Ruth Hopkins, 21, of the East End.

Their bodies were discovered between 1975 and 1977 in Clermont and Hamilton counties.

A fifth murder conviction in the slaying of Nancy L. Grigsby, 23, of Withamsville, was overturned because prosecutors did not establish a cause of death during trial.

Police said Mr. Ralston confessed to the five slayings and pleaded guilty to raping three 15-year-old girls, an act that broke open the murder investigations.

“I couldn't imagine them putting him out on the street. I want him to wake up every day looking through them bars. He's destroyed a lot of families,” said Gene Sanders of Felicity, one of Miss Hopkins' 10 siblings.

Sam Hopkins was 3 years old, and his sister, Heather Hopkins, was 1 when their mother was killed.

“It affected my life traumatically,” said Mr. Hopkins, 25, of Felicity. “It's been real hard. It has haunted me forever. I'm always thinking what went though her mind at that last minute.”


Ralston timeline

        • Sept. 24, 1977: Larry Ralston offers a ride to three 15-year-old girls from Price Hill, offering to drop them off at the movies. Instead, he drives to Round Bottom Road in Clermont County's Union Township, blocks the passenger side of the car against an embankment and rapes the girls. They escape when a car approaches two hours later.

         • Oct. 19, 1977: A Clermont County grand jury indicts Mr. Ralston on three counts of rape and three counts of kidnapping involving the girls.

         • Oct. 22, 1977: The skeletal remains of Diana Sue McCrobie are found at East Fork State Park in Clermont County.

          • Nov. 10, 1977: Mr. Ralston is arrested at his sister's house in Mount Prospect, Ill.

        • Nov. 15, 1977: Investigator Bob Stout picks up Mr. Ralston in Illinois and transports him to the Clermont County Jail in Batavia.

        • Feb. 16, 1978: A Hamilton County grand jury indicts him for the aggravated murder and attempted rape of Mary Ruth Hopkins.

         • May 4, 1978: After more than seven hours of deliberation, a Clermont County jury convicts Mr. Ralston of aggravated murder and rape in the death of Elaina Marie Bear.

        • June 28, 1978: Mr. Ralston is sentenced to death in Miss Bear'sslaying and scheduled to die in the electric chair on Oct. 31, 1978.

        • July 6, 1978: Mr. Ralston is convicted in the slaying of Miss McCrobie and sentenced to life in prison.

        • July 26, 1978: Mr. Ralston's death sentence is commuted to life after the U.S. Supreme Court rules Ohio's capital punishment law is unconstitutional.

        • Aug. 2, 1978: Mr. Ralston is convicted of aggravated murder in the slaying of Linda Kay Harmon and is sentenced immediately to life in prison.

        • Aug. 24, 1978: Judge William Young, a visiting judge from Warren County, convicts Mr. Ralston in the death of Nancy Grigsby and sentences him to another life term.

         • Sept. 25, 1978: Mr. Ralston pleads guilty to two counts of rape involving the three Price Hill teen-agers. One count of rape and kidnapping charges are dropped in the plea bargain.

         • Oct. 18, 1978: Mr. Ralston received two concurrent seven- to 25-year terms for the rapes to run consecutively with four life sentences.

         • Nov. 7, 1979: The state appeals court overturns the Grigsby conviction, saying the prosecutor did not establish a cause of death during trial.

         • Feb. 22, 1980: The Ohio Supreme Court dismisses the aggravated murder charge in the Grigsby case after Clermont County prosecutors were late in filing an appeal to the Nov. 7, 1979, decision.

         • May 11, 1983: The Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals upholds convictions in the Bear, McCrobie and Harmon cases.

         • May 15, 1984: Mr. Ralston pleads guilty to aggravated murder in the death of Ms. Hopkins and is sentenced to life in prison.


Larry Ralston



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