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75-year-old man arrested for 2 cold case murders from the 1970s in Tallmadge

Posted at 11:12 AM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 17:46:17-04

TALLMADGE, Ohio — A 75-year-old man from Jackson Township was arrested by Tallmadge police and charged with the murders of two women in the 1970s.

Gustave Sapharas was picked up last Friday at his home on Independence Circle Northwest after Tallmadge Sgt. Doug Bohon reopened the cold cases and developed a suspect, according to Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams.

Sapharas was arrested after authorities got an indictment last week for the murders of Karen Bentz and Loretta Jean Davis. He's facing eight charges, including kidnapping, attempted rape and murder.

Bentz was 18 years old when she was found stabbed to death on the side of Indian Hills Drive in Tallmadge on April 28, 1970.

Davis, 20, was found stabbed to death on Sept. 28, 1975 on the side of Congress Lake Road in Portage County. Her car and wallet were found in Tallmadge.

"I think the message to people is we can't bring your loved one back, but we represent the victims and we're here to see that justice is brought in their case," Williams said. "You don't close a murder case. It's always going to be there."

Sapharas is scheduled for an arraignment Wednesday morning in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

Sapharas was acquitted by a jury last year for the death of a woman in Licking County in 1991. Authorities said a DNA match in 2009 helped lead to Sapharas' arrest for the fatal stabbing of 21-year-old Bonita Parker. Sapharas' defense attorney argued that DNA evidence only showed he had been with Parker, who was known to work as a prostitute, and prosecutors offered no evidence that he killed her.

in 1977, Sapharas was convicted of rape in Summit County and spent several years in prison.