5 TERRIFYING Ohio Serial Killers

Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by Ben Oakley

Here are five terrifying Ohio serial killers, who claimed 61 victims between them, including two serial killing brothers.

5 TERRIFYING Ohio Serial Killers

Richard Eberling

Richard Eberling killed five people between 1946 and 1983, one man and four women. Born as Richard Lenardic in Cleveland in 1929, he went on to become one of the most infamous Ohio serial killers.

He went from being a window cleaner and petty thief in the 1950s, to welcoming public officials and community leaders to lavish parties in his home in the 1970s.

5 Terrifying Ohio Serial Killers
Richard Eberling. Credit: Rocky River Sheriff’s Dept.

By the late 1980s, Eberling was living in a 27-bedroom mansion, complete with works of art. But in 1987, police were made aware of a forged will from an elderly woman named Ethel Durkin, who had died three years earlier.

Police went to the mansion and found Eberling living among a vast quantity of stolen paintings and art pieces. He denied forging the will but when the body was exhumed, a coroner concluded she had been murdered.

Eberling was arrested for murder. He and an accomplice, Obie Henderson, were found guilty of the murder of Ethel in July 1989 and sentenced to life. While in prison, four more murders were linked to Eberling.

Including the death of his father, George, ex-girlfriend Barbara Kinzel, a nurse, and Marilyn Sheppard in 1954. Blood was eventually found at the Sheppard crime scene incriminating Eberling.

Before Eberling could be charged with the other four murders, all of which had been positively linked to him, he died in prison on July 25th, 1998, aged 68.

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Donald Harvey: The Angel of Death

In August 1987, American medical serial killer Donald Harvey, AKA: the Angel of Death, was convicted of killing 37 people.

Harvey was a hospital orderly who claimed to have murdered 87 people between 1970 to April 1987.

Harvey had worked in the medical profession from the age of 18-years-old. When he worked at the Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky, he claimed to have killed at least a dozen patients there alone.

5 Terrifying Ohio Serial Killers
Donald Harvey in 2004. Credit: Ohio Department of Corrections.

He said that he initially killed his victims because they enraged him but then he insisted it was because he didn’t want to see terminally ill patients suffering.

He killed by administering many different types of drugs, mostly whatever was available at the time. He used arsenic, cyanide, insulin, or morphine. He even suffocated some of them or drip fed them liquid tainted with HIV.

Because he had worked in so many hospitals and his crimes didn’t come to light for over 17 years, investigators suspected he could have killed hundreds of people.

In August 1987, Harvey was handed down 28 life sentences after pleading guilty to 37 murders, in order to avoid the death penalty.

On October 26th he was admitted to the Toledo Correctional Institution in Ohio. In 2017, Harvey was savagely beaten in his cell and died of his injuries. His crimes live on to this day.

Larry Ralston

From 1975 to 1977, Ohio serial killer Larry Ralston claimed the lives of five young women, but he wasn’t a suspect until he was arrested for rape. He was known to enjoy watching people die.

On September 24th, 1977, Ralston picked up three 15-year-old girls offering to take them to a cinema. Instead, he drove them to a remote location and raped all of them.

5 Terrifying Ohio Serial Killers
Larry Ralston in court. Credit: Ohio Supreme Court.

They escaped when another car approached near to the scene. Ralston was arrested shortly after when the girls identified him. They had been the lucky ones, as by that point, Ralston had already killed five young women.

After his arrest, police began linking him to the murders of the five women, all of which had been strangled to death.

The first murder was on September 3rd, 1975, when Ralston abducted 17-year-old Linda Harmon from a bus stop. Her body parts were found scattered in a wooded area, 34 days later. Ralston was only 26 at the time he killed Linda.

In early 1978, Ralston was sentenced to death for the murder of 15-year-old Elaina Marie Bear. He was due to die in the electric chair when more charges were brought against him.

His death sentence was later commuted to life, and he received an additional three life sentences. One of his murder convictions, in that of 23-year-old Nancy Grigsby, was overturned due to an error with the prosecutors. But he remains the only suspect.

The only motive was that he enjoyed watching people dying, making him one of the most terrifying Ohio serial killers.

Anthony Kirkland

Among Ohio serial killers, Anthony Kirkland is perhaps one of the worst. He burned each of his victim’s bodies to try and conceal the evidence of rape.

On May 20th 1987, Kirkland murdered his 27-year-old girlfriend, Leola Douglas for refusing to have sex with him and rejecting his sexual advances.

Anthony Kirkland
2010 mugshot. Credit: Ohio Department of Corrections.

After killing her, Kirkland set her body on fire and called police to make it look like an accident. He claimed she had been playing with accelerants when they caught light.

The police didn’t believe him, and Kirkland was ultimately convicted of manslaughter. He served 16 years in prison until his release in 2004.

In the five years after his release, he would go on to kill another four females, three of them by strangulation.

Including the murders and rapes of 14-year-old Casonya Crawford in 2006, 45-year-old Mary Newton two months later, 14-year-old Kimya Rolison later the same year, and 13-year-old Esme Kenney in 2009.

As with the 1987 murder, he burned the bodies in an attempt to hide any forensic evidence.

He was caught near the scene of the Esme Kenney murder, where he was found to be in possession of her watch and iPod.

After various appeals and court proceedings, he was finally sentenced to death in 2018 and remains on death row at the Chillicothe Correction Institution in Ohio.

Anthony and Nathaniel Cook: Evil Brothers

These Ohio serial killers were brothers who took it upon themselves to rape and murder white people in the state from the 1970s to the 1980s.

Anthony, born in Ohio in 1949, was nine years older than Nathaniel, born in 1958. Over a 17-month period from May 1980 to October 1981, the brothers claimed the lives of nine victims between them.

During that time, bodies were turning up across Ohio, in ditches, and waterways, along with couples in the trunk of their cars.

The pair would either kill their victims by shooting them or beating them with a baseball bat, and in one case, a concrete block.

Anthony and Nathaniel Cook: Evil Brothers
Nathaniel (left) and Anthony (right). Credits: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

They would take advantage of young lovers parked in isolated locations, and focused on white people, as they had developed a racial hatred of them.

The violent and gruesome rampage ended in October 1981 when Anthony was arrested for a shooting murder of a realtor in the area.

This led to the arrest of Nathaniel, and they were both charged with the 1980 murder and attack of a couple in North Toledo.

During that incident, 24-year-old Thomas Gordon was shot in the stomach and died of his wound. The brothers then raped and stabbed his girlfriend, leaving her for dead beside Thomas. She went on to survive the attack.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s when DNA evidence improved, that the investigation was able to link both brothers to multiple cold case murders.

In 2000, Anthony pleaded guilty to nine counts of murder while Nathaniel pleaded guilty to three murders. Both accepted a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty and were given life sentences.

They both confessed to the 1973 rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, who was bludgeoned to death with a concrete block in the basement of a theatre.

Despite their crimes and sentences, Nathaniel was released on parole in 2018 under strict conditions. Anthony remains in prison with the next parole date set for 2025.

As far as Ohio serial killers go, the Cook brothers are among the most terrifying.

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