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Published: Thursday, 1/13/2005

Husband charged in Rudolph mom's death

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

RUDOLPH, Ohio - A rural Wood County woman was stabbed to death in her bed early yesterday as her three children slept in the same room, and her husband has been charged with the murder, according to the Wood County Sheriff's Office.

LuAnn Downard, 36, of rural Rudolph was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators said they spent the day interviewing family members, including the victim's husband, Rodney Downard, 36, who called 911 about 5 a.m. to report the stabbing.

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Mr. Downard apparently had slept in an upstairs bedroom while his wife and children were sleeping together in a downstairs bedroom.

In a recording of the call Mr. Downard placed to 911, he told the dispatcher that his wife had been stabbed in her bed.

He said he had just gotten up for work and come downstairs when his children, ages 4, 6, and 8, told him their mother had been stabbed.

"The kids woke me up, and she is not breathing," Mr. Downard told an 911 dispatcher.

In answer to the dispatcher's questions, Mr. Downard said he had last seen his wife when he went to bed about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. At the time she was trying to get the children to settle down and go to sleep, he said.

In the call, Mr. Downard said that there was blood all over the bed and even the children. The knife was still in his wife's chest, he said.

Sheriff Wasylyshyn confirmed that a straight kitchen knife had been recovered from the scene.

An autopsy was to have been performed yesterday, but Dr. Douglas W. Hess, Wood County coroner, could not be reached for comment.

According to sheriff's records, deputies had been called to the Downards' farmhouse on State Rt. 281 just west of State Rt. 25 previously for minor incidents.

Two reports filed in 2002 indicate that the Downards were separated but still lived together.

A neighbor, Terry Brown, said he'd seen deputies there before but found the Downards friendly.

"My mailbox got knocked off the other week, and she came over and gave me the mailbox and the mail that was blowing around," Mr. Brown recalled. "They seemed like fairly neighborly people."

Sheriff Wasylyshyn said that he had talked with the children after they were brought into the sheriff's office.

"My heart goes out to the husband, who lost his wife, but also we have three young children who don't have a mother," he said before Mr. Downard was charged. "They were at my office and I talked with them and it was very emotional."

At one point during the call to 911, the dispatcher asked to speak to the oldest child, Breynn, 8, because she had told her father that she had seen the assailant.

"Someone came in and I thought he scared Mommy, but he stabbed Mommy," the young girl said.

The girl, who was crying, later said, "Tell me if my Mommy's going to live or not because she's the only Mommy we're going to have."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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