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Published: 7/25/2003

DNA links ex-B.G. man to 1992 rape in Leipsic

Ricky Bixler, 44. Ricky Bixler, 44.
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A former Bowling Green man serving a 23-year sentence in Kansas for the aggravated kidnapping and rape of a church worker is back in northwest Ohio awaiting trial for the unsolved sexual assault of a Leipsic, Ohio, woman 11 years ago.

Putnam County authorities have charged Ricky Bixler, 44, with rape, aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery. He was arraigned May 30 in Putnam County Common Pleas Court, where he is to go on trial Aug. 19.

Ohio authorities, using DNA, have linked Bixler to the rape of the Leipsic woman during a break-in at her home in 1992.

Scott Welch, an assistant county prosecutor, declined to elaborate. Bixler, who waived extradition from Kansas, is being held in the Putnam County Jail until his trial, Mr. Welch said.

Tom Drees, the prosecuting attorney for Ellis County in Kansas, said in a phone interview that Bixler approached a church worker in her office in Hays, Kan., on Oct. 5, 1993, and raped and “held her against her will” before fleeing.

Mr. Drees said Bixler was caught seven days later with a stolen car in Yuma, Ariz. He was convicted in Ellis County District Court on June 27, 1994.

Bixler, whose court records identify him as Ricki Bixler and Ricky Nelson Bixler, is no stranger to the Ohio criminal justice system.

The former Bowling Green man was convicted on four occasions in Wood County Common Pleas Court beginning in 1979. He also has a string of convictions in Hancock, Henry, and Lucas counties involving grand theft, breaking and entering, and receiving stolen property. He served two prison sentences. He was paroled in 1985 and 1990, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections records show.

In 1993, Bixler was convicted in Wood County for gross sexual imposition against two girls.

Gary Bishop, a Wood County assistant prosecutor, said Bixler was charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition for fondling a 12-year-old girl from Weston, Ohio, and, while awaiting trial, kidnapping a friend's 14-year-old daughter, taking her to Leipsic and Deshler, Ohio, “for a beer run” before he was arrested, Mr. Bishop said.

The girl's mother discovered her daughter was missing after getting a late-night phone call from the girl after Bixler's arrest, he said.

He was convicted for gross sexual imposition involving the 12-year-old. The kidnapping and gross sexual imposition charge involving the teenager was dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to carrying a concealed weapon, Mr. Bishop said. He was given three two-year consecutive sentences.

Wood County is sharing its information about Bixler with Putnam County authorities, though no DNA evidence apparently is involved, Mr. Bishop said yesterday.

“They may be looking at a lot of similar evidence,” Mr. Bishop said. “I don't believe we have any DNA type of evidence in this case.”

Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation assists local jurisdictions with solving cold cases such as the Leipsic rape through DNA matches.

Michelle Gatchell, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's office, said the bureau began linking its DNA database for cold cases with the National DNA Index System less than a year ago.

Once an apparent match is found between a DNA sample taken from a crime scene with the DNA of a suspect, the results are forwarded to the requesting law enforcement agency. A second, fresh DNA sample is obtained from the suspect to confirm the first match, Ms. Gatchell said.

If convicted in Ohio, Bixler would not serve his sentence until he is freed by the Kansas Department of Corrections, which said Bixler's earliest possibility of release is 2012.



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