A former deputy is going to prison for life in an Ohio cold case homicide believed to be one of the oldest of such cases involving the slaying of a law enforcement officer ever to be successfully prosecuted, the state attorney general’s office said.
Mitchell Ruble, 65, convicted by a jury in March of aggravated murder in the 1981 killing of Washington County sheriff’s Lt. Ray “Joe” Clark, was sentenced Thursday morning.
In addition to the life sentence, Judge Randall Burnworth also sentenced Ruble to a concurrent 11 months on a charge of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance. Ruble pleaded guilty to the weapons charge today.
The charge was part of a separate case relating to Ruble’s illegal possession of a modified AR-15 fully automatic rifle. Investigators found the weapon when they served a search warrant in the murder investigation.
“Many people, including the defendant himself, likely thought that this case would never be solved, but today, there is justice,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a prepared statement.
“Cold cases can be very difficult to solve, but as this case shows, it’s not impossible when you have law enforcement and prosecutors who refuse to give up and are committed to finding the truth.”
Clark was shot to death at his Marietta home on Feb. 7, 1981. Investigators determined that Ruble waited outside Clark’s home and fired a shotgun through the kitchen window.
Ruble had worked as a Washington County sheriff’s deputy until December 1979, when Clark terminated his employment because of the use of excessive force while on duty.
Special prosecutors with DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section prosecuted the case. The sheriff’s Cold Case Unit and Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case, which was part of DeWine’s Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative.