Sunday, December 02, 2001

Wehrung trial is talk of village

38-year-old murder case changed town

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        GREENHILLS — The post office — or “nerve center” — of this village is buzzing with talk of a 38-year-old murder case that once wrought fear and mystery.

        Residents pepper Carol Kuhlman, the post office manager, with questions as they stand in line.

[photo] A murder trial has created a stir for post office manager Carol Kuhlman and customers.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        “What's new from the courtroom? It's unbelievable. I was choked up from yesterday's testimony,” calls out Seton Staley, 58, of Greenhills.

        Residents want to know the latest from the Hamilton County Courthouse, where Michael Wehrung, a middle-aged business executive, is on trial on charges of killing his teen-age girlfriend Patty Rebholz, a Greenhills cheerleader, on Aug. 8, 1963.

        The case was revived two years ago, reigniting talk about the murder that once caused children to take the long way home from school to avoid walking by the vacant lot where Patty's body was found.

        At the post office Friday, Mrs. Kuhlman was doing her best to respond while juggling her postal duties. When there were no questions to field, she asked her own.

        “What do you think?” is her standard.

        She has a special interest in the case. Her son is an actor and playwright who lives in Los Angeles. He is awaiting the trial's outcome to complete a screenplay about the murder. He already wrote a play.

        Mrs. Kuhlman, 76, said she'd be interested even if her son wasn't.

        “It's been 38 years and this trial has just started. Everybody was talking about it,” she said.

        Greenhills has evolved over the years. Old-timers in the 4,000-resident suburb still remember the Wehrung and Rebholz families. They, too, hope the outcome brings closure.

        “It is somewhat of a cloud hanging over Greenhills. It was always a case that generated a lot of interest,” Mayor Oscar Hoffmann said.

        Joseph and Martie Wolterman moved to Greenhills after the slaying. They now live in Hamilton. On Friday, they stopped by the post office to visit Mrs. Kuhlman and do some mailing.

        “I never miss any of it if I can help it,” Mrs. Wolterman, 78, said. Until the slaying happened, “this was such a peaceful place.”

        Mrs. Kuhlman says the trial mayprovide some closure.

        But she wonders what her customers will discuss then.


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