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Published: Friday, 4/15/2005

Arraignment set in '91 slaying

BOWLING GREEN - A former Sylvania man charged with the 1991 murder of a Northwood woman was transferred yesterday from a Michigan prison to the Wood County jail.

Ralph Doren, 55, is to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Monday in Wood County Common Pleas Court before Judge Reeve Kelsey.

Doren was indicted in October by a Wood County grand jury for aggravated murder in the June 7, 1991, death of Deana Meeks, 19. She was found with her throat cut inside the Lester Avenue house she shared with her mother and her mother's boyfriend, Boyd "Smitty" Smith.

Mr. Smith did auto body work in the garage at the home, and Doren was known to be an "associate'' of Mr. Smith, police said. When Miss Meeks' body was discovered, police found the house ransacked.

Doren, who has been behind bars since 1993, could face the death penalty if convicted in Wood County.

Doren has been serving a 30 to 60-year prison sentence at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Michigan for a 1993 first-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction in Monroe County. In that case, he threatened a woman he'd met at a party with a knife and raped her.

Police investigating the Northwood murder that occurred 14 months earlier said Doren's name surfaced early in the investigation, but detectives focused on other suspects.

Two Toledo men were indicted for the murder in October, 1993, but those charges were dismissed because of problems with evidence.

Northwood police never closed the Meeks case. Chief Jerry Herman said a detective was assigned to revive the investigation in 2003 and worked nearly a year before taking new information about Doren to the Wood County prosecutor's office.

Prosecutor Ray Fischer could not be reached for comment.

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