Stark County killer dies of coronavirus in Marion Correctional Institution
Only Kenneth A. Roth knew how many people he had killed, and he took that secret to his grave.
Roth, 70, died on April 27, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed Friday. He is one of 11 prisoners from Marion Correctional Institution who have died from COVID-19.
The former Stark County (Osnaburg Township) man was serving a life sentence for the 2009 murder of Linda Van Voorhis Smith, a 61-year-old nurse and grandmother.
Smith, also of Osnaburg Township, was found gagged and strangled in her house on Orchard View Drive SE. Roth was Smith’s handyman.
When a Stark County jury found Roth guilty in 2017 of killing Smith, it was his second murder conviction.
Roth grew up around East Canton and drifted out to Kansas when he was 18 years old. That’s where he and two accomplices robbed and murdered a cabbie in 1968.
Roth returned to Ohio after being paroled by Kansas authorities in 1985. Between then and Smith’s murder, investigators with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office questioned Roth about the slayings of three other women. Roth had a connection to each victim:
- Kay Gulosh, 46, who was strangled and stabbed to death in her Plain Township house in 1985. Investigators linked a car spotted at the scene to Roth.
- Patricia Murphy, 51, who was strangled and stabbed to death in her Plain Township apartment in 1991. Roth was the apartment’s maintenance man and possibly Murphy’s former boyfriend.
- Julia Harbourt, 56, who was shot and killed in her Pike Township home in 1993. Roth had installed an alarm system in Harbourt's home shortly before her death.
飞艇计划app开奖After Smith’s murder, the Sheriff’s Office revisited Roth’s possible involvement with the Gulosh, Murphy and Harbourt deaths, but wasn’t able to bring charges in any of the old cases.
飞艇计划app开奖“I’m left with the fact that some of these things we’re never going to know, although I had very strong suspicions and a lot of evidence to point in that direction,” said Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier. “Those are just going to be some unsolved cases, unfortunately.”