Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part 2

Ritual Murder Investigation

On June 12 and June 27, 2003, the Diocese through its lawyers stated that there was no duty to report these allegations and the Diocese fired the psychologist who wanted to report Jane Doe's allegations.

Rev. Gerald Robinson, younger
Rev. Gerald Robinson, younger

At that point, the local chapter of SNAP, a clerical abuse support group, took Jane Doe's documents, along with others, to the Ohio Attorney General's office, who in turn assigned prosecutor Julia Bates to the case.  According to CBS and MSNBC, an investigation team was quickly assembled and Jane Doe was called in so they could evaluate her complaint.  Jane revealed the names of her alleged abusers, one of whom was a Roman Catholic priest, Gerald Robinson.  One investigator recognized the priest as the prime suspect in a 25-year-old unsolved homicide.  At the time investigators strongly believed Robinson was the killer. However there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him. 

Sister Margaret Ann Pahl
Sister Margaret Ann Pahl

On April 5, 1980, Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, was found dead on the floor of the chapel room in Toledo's Mercy Hospital.  The elderly nun had been strangled and stabbed in the neck and torso at least 30 times.  Candles surrounded her body and her arms were folded across her chest.  Investigators deemed the murder a "ritual" killing because the way her body was posed — lying face up with an altar cloth draped over her torso.  From the start, investigators focused on the hospital's chaplain, Father Gerald Robinson.  He was questioned several times and his living   quarters in the church were searched, which resulted in finding a letter opener police believed was used in the slaying.   

Mercy Hospital, hallway
Mercy Hospital, hallway

Prosecutor Bates found the similarities between Jane Doe's alleged ritualistic abuses and the "ritual" killing of Sister Margaret intriguing and decided to take another look at the 25-year-old murder case.  Bates hired several forensic experts to conduct a battery of tests on the original evidence, including the letter opener, which had been in police storage since it was taken from Robinson's room in the hospital.   Other experts studied blood evidence taken from the crime scene and reviewed taped interviews they saved from a 1980 interrogation of Robinson.

 

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