A cold case is hot once again after an almost 40-year-old murder was solved last week in Washington County.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Washington County Sheriff Larry R. Mincks Sr. announced Friday that former Deputy Mitchell Ruble was found guilty of aggravated murder for the death of Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Ray “Joe” Clark in 1981.
The Marietta murder is unique because of its age and the length of time it took to solve the case.
“We believe this was one of the oldest cold cases of its kind — involving the murder of a law enforcement officer — that’s ever been successfully prosecuted,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We commend the efforts of all those who worked to bring justice in this case. We won’t give up on cold-case homicides.”
Ruble had worked as a deputy for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office through November 1979, when Clark terminated his employment due to inappropriate conduct while on duty.
“We do believe that revenge was the motive for this crime,” Mincks said in a news release.
Clark was shot to death at his Marietta home on Dodd’s Run Road on Feb. 7, 1981. Investigators determined that Ruble waited outside Clark’s home and shot him with a shotgun through the kitchen window.
This case was part of DeWine’s Ohio Unsolved Homicides initiative. The initiative was founded to help bring visibility to cold cases, which increases the likelihood that tips may come in to help bring a perpetrator to justice. It also gives a method of allowing different jurisdictions compare unsolved cases to help link seemingly-unrelated crimes.
There are currently 1,878 cases uploaded to the Ohio Attorney General’s website by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. This spotlight service was expanded by DeWine in 2012. The OBCI provides investigative resources to assist local law enforcement agencies in investigations of unsolved homicides and other crimes.
This particular case has been active since 1981, but only when the Cold Case Squad was formed in 2011 did the investigation intensity increase.