A Logan County jury found Ralph E. Bortree, 56, guilty of a first-degree felony county of attempted aggravated murder Thursday related to a previous 1993 cold case involving a then 19-year-old Logan County woman.
The verdict brought to conclusion a trial that began Monday and lasted four days. The jury reached its verdict after deliberating for approximately one hour, Judge Kevin P. Braig said.
Visiting Judge David Faulkner presided over the trial this week. He has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Bortree on Dec. 18.
According to evidence presented to the jury by Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart and Ohio Assistant Attorney General Christopher Kinsler, on July 31, 1993, Bortree kidnapped the victim while she was driving to work.
Bortree reportedly used his truck to block her path of travel at the intersection of County Road 35 and Township Road 77 in Logan County, forced her into his truck at gunpoint, drove her to a remote location, raped her, drove her to another location, cut her throat, and left her for dead in a ditch.
She survived by waiting until the suspect left and made her way to a neighboring home The 19-year-old was transported to Mary Rutan Hospital for treatment of her injuries.
At the time the offense was committed, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office sent the victim’s shirt to Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for DNA testing.
After years of investigation, BCI developed a profile from semen collected off of the shirt that matched a sample collected by the Sidney Police Department in an unsolved 1992 case in Shelby County.
The victim in that case told Sidney police investigators she was walking home from work when she was abducted at gunpoint, driven to a remote area of Shelby County and raped.
In 2019, the Logan County Sheriff’s Office and BCI used a genealogy profile from AdvancedDNA that indicated the DNA sample from the shirt matched Bortree’s DNA with a probability of a false positive match of less than one in a trillion.
The 1992 Shelby County case also helped investigators link Bortree to two other rape and abduction cases in Shelby County during 1993 and 1995. The two victims of those attempted abductions were able to identify the defendant as the perpetrator.
However, charges will not be filed for the Shelby County crimes, as both Logan County Prosecutor Eric Stewart and the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office determined the statutes of limitations to file charges in those cases had run out, as previously detailed in the Examiner.
Prior to commencing the trial this week, Judge Faulkner and Logan County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kevin P. Braig weighed Bortree’s desire and the prosecution’s desire to go forward with the trial against the risk presented by current public health concerns relating to COVID-19. They concluded the trial qualified as an “essential trial” under the Ohio Supreme Court’s guidance for holding trials at this time.
The court moved the location of jury selection from the courtroom to the Holland Theatre to increase social distancing and all involved in the trial wore masks to the maximum extent practicable.