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Published: Monday, 5/3/2010

Killer to go before parole board

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Robin Bender killed two men in 1974 during a home invasion. As he fled, he threatened to return and kill the surviving witnesses. Robin Bender killed two men in 1974 during a home invasion. As he fled, he threatened to return and kill the surviving witnesses.
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

DELPHOS, Ohio - To Judy Sudhoff, the man who shot her and killed her husband and father-in-law in 1974 was sentenced to life in prison and ought to spend his life in prison.

Robin Bender, now 56, actually was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murders plus five to 15 years for shooting Mrs. Sudhoff.

Still, Bender - who threatened to return and kill the surviving witnesses - is scheduled to come before the Ohio Parole Board June 23 to seek release from prison. It will be his fourth attempt - the board denied him parole in 1994, 2002, and 2004.

"I actually lose sleep thinking about what I would do if he ever got out," Mrs. Sudhoff said. "I don't live in Delphos anymore, but with technology today it wouldn't take but two seconds to find me. I would be petrified if they let him out - not just for me, for my family too."

It was July 17, 1974, when Mrs. Sudhoff's then-husband, Kenneth Youngpeter, was working in a field and saw someone enter their rural Delphos home. He confronted Bender, who tied him to a chair and shot him. Judy was shot as she attempted to flee, although she was able to run to a neighbor's house.

Her father-in-law, Louis Youngpeter, was fatally shot in their front yard. Bender then went to Josephine Bockey's house where both Judy and her mother-in-law, Mildred Youngpeter, had gone for help.

Bender's gun misfired when he tried to shoot Mildred. With the sound of approaching sirens, Bender fled but told the women he'd come back and kill them.

Mrs. Bockey, who is now close to 90, still lives in the house. Mrs. Sudhoff said she, her former mother-in-law, and Mrs. Bockey made the trip to Columbus last week to share their story - and fears - with the parole board.

"What I stressed was how Bender had shot my husband three times in the chest at close range. He shot his dad in the back with a shotgun and in the neck with a shotgun, and he shot me with a shotgun," Mrs. Sudhoff said. "A shotgun just blasts, just blasts a big hole. He put a gun to [Mildred's] head and the gun jammed. I think he would've killed everyone that day if the gun had worked."

Bret Vinocur, a volunteer victims advocate who runs the Web site blockparole.com, got involved with the Youngpeter family in 2004 when Bender last came up for parole.

"This case inspired me to do what I do because of how graphic it was and how little support these people have," he said. "I realized I need to do this all the time because these people have no one to turn to. No one is getting their back."

Mr. Vinocur encouraged the public to send an e-mail or letter to the parole board by June 15 opposing Bender's parole. Either can be done through his Web site.

Locally, support is mounting. Delphos City Council President Bob Ulm said he plans to ask council May 11 to approve a resolution asking the parole board to keep Bender behind bars.

Mrs. Sudhoff said she doesn't see how Bender could cope with life if he were released.

"He was 19 when he was put in there. He has no coping skills for life, and life is tough right now. There are people qualified for good jobs and they can't get a job," she said, adding, "I would be seriously afraid for our family because he said he would come and get us.

"That sticks in your mind all the time."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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