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Published: Friday, 7/23/2004

Parole board rejects killer's bid to go free

With 4,405 signatures and letters demanding that Robin Bender remain in prison, the Ohio Parole Board yesterday denied parole for the former Columbus Grove man who killed a Delphos father and son in 1974.

Bender, 50, will not come up for parole again until August, 2010, said Joellen Culp, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

The news was a relief to the family of Louis Youngpeter, 51, and his son, Kenneth, 27, who were shot to death by Bender in 1974 after Kenneth had interrupted a burglary at his rural Delphos home. Kenneth was tied to a chair and shot several times, while Louis was shot outside when he came to help his son.

Kenneth's wife, Judy, also was shot after she tried to help her husband. She survived, running to safety at the nearby home of Josephine Bockey.

Mrs. Bockey, 83, said in an interview this week she would move out of the only house she has lived in since 1945 if Bender was released from prison. On the night of the murders, he threatened to come back and kill her, Judy, and the others hiding at the Bockey home. Only the sound of police sirens caused him to flee out a rear window of the house.

After hearing his parole had

been denied, "she told me, 'Now I can live here the rest of my life,'‚óŹ" said Neal Youngpeter, a son and brother of the victims. "She was bound and determined if he got out of prison, she was gone."

Ms. Culp said several factors went into the decision to keep Bender behind bars.

"The decision was based on the nature of the offense, and this individual has had poor institutional adjustment. While he has been incarcerated, he has been charged with two additional felonies: obstruction of justice and attempted escape.

"Also, the parole board noted the large amount of community protest in this case," she said.

Ms. Culp said within the last two weeks, the board received 718 letters and petitions containing 3,687 signatures. The board received no letters supporting Bender's release.

Mr. Youngpeter said he appreciated the support his family has received.

"Isn't that phenomenal?" he said. "I think the parole board was tired of seeing Mr. Bender's name coming across the fax and the e-mail. I feel sorry for the people who had to unload the machine and keep the paper in it."

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