Saturday, October 09, 1999

Man gets life for 1985 killing

Fingerprints were matched only recently

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Since the brutal murder of 83-year-old Ann Zwiefelhoefer in 1985, her loved ones have lived with the fear that her killer would never be caught.

        “I have prayed every day that they would find him and convict him,” said Eileen Bachman, Mrs. Zwiefelhoefer's niece.

        Mrs. Bachman and her relatives expressed joy and relief Friday when a Butler County Common Pleas Court jury convicted Kevin W. Walls of aggravated murder in connection with Mrs. Zwiefelhoefer's stabbing death.

        Judge Matthew Crehan immediately sentenced Mr. Walls to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. Mr. Walls, 30, of Hamilton, could not receive the death penalty because he was only 15 at the time of the murder.

        When Judge Crehan read the jury's verdict, reached after three hours of deliberation, Mrs. Bachman and several relatives gasped in happiness and clasped hands.

        “The judicial system works,” Mrs. Bachman said, wiping tears from her eyes.

        “My grandma probably is at peace now,” said Patricia Huebner of West Chester. “She meant a lot to me and my family.”

        When the judge pronounced the sentence, Mr. Walls' sister, Tanya Sue Holland, screamed, “No, no!” and ran from the courtroom.

        The prosecution built a case against Mr. Walls based primarily on fingerprint evidence produced with the help of a state computerized fingerprint comparison system that went into operation last year. This may have been the first murder case brought to court in Ohio using evidence from this system.

        Mr. Walls was charged with aggravated murder last year after fingerprint experts matched his prints with 13 lifted from Mrs. Zwiefelhoefer's Maple Avenue house.

        “This crime has to teach everybody the lesson that crime doesn't pay — no matter when it occurs,” Butler County Prosecutor John Holcomb said.

        Mr. Walls has been in prison four years, serving a three- to 15-year sentence for robbery.

        Mrs. Zwiefelhoefer bled to death on her living room floor after being stabbed nine times. The prosecution said Mr. Walls broke into her house and killed her while robbing her.


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