DNA leads to charge of attempted murder in 1993 Logan County assault case

DNA from a cigarette butt has helped to indict Ralph E. Bortree, 55, of Logan County on a charge of attempted aggravated murder stemming from a crime he is accused of committing 26 years ago.

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On July 31, 1993, a 19-year-old woman driving to work in rural Logan County was forced off the road. A man brandishing a gun got out, ordered her into his vehicle and drove to a remote part of the county where authorities said he raped her, kicked her repeatedly, cut her throat and left her in a ditch.

She survived the attack.

Detectives were unable to develop a suspect at the time. In 2015, Logan County Sheriff's Detective Phil Bailey reviewed the cold case and submitted DNA from evidence items to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification. A potential suspect's profile was developed, but the perpetrator did not match anyone in any criminal database.

In 2019, the DNA profile was submitted to AdvanceDNA, a private forensic genealogy company that uses DNA from genealogy sites in criminal investigations. AdvanceDNA provided a lead in the form of names of a family line in Logan County. Detectives narrowed the list of suspects, but DNA collected from Bortree’s cigarette butt confirmed he was a match for the 1993 case.

Bortee’s DNA matched three other cases as well, authorities said:

  • On May 23, 1992 in Sidney, a 19-year-old woman walking home from work was abducted at gunpoint and driven to a remote area in Shelby County where she was raped.
  • On July 22, 1993, a 16-year-old girl studying in her car at a Sidney park was ordered into an assailant's vehicle at gunpoint. She was able to flee and get help.
  • On May 24, 1995, a 20-year-old woman studying in her car in a Sidney park was ordered out of her vehicle by an assailant at gunpoint. As he drove her in his vehicle, he told her he was going to sexually assault her. She fought him over the gun and escaped.

In each of these cases, the description of the suspect, his clothing and method of operation were consistent with Bortree, detectives said. Additionally, according to Bureau of Motor Vehicles records, the suspect owned or had access to vehicles that matched the one described in the cases.

Prosecutors in Logan and Shelby counties reviewed the cases and learned the statute of limitations on the rape and kidnapping cases have expired.

However, the statute on the attempted aggravated murder charge in 1993 has not expired. That case was submitted to a grand jury on Tuesday and the panel returned an indictment on one count of attempted aggravated murder.

The Logan County Sheriff's Office is working to identify any additional offenses that could be connected to Bortree. If you have any additional information, you are asked to call the sheriff's office at 937-592-5731.

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