Thursday, January 9, 2003

Killer apologizes to victim's family

Death-row inmate seeking clemency

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A man to be executed next month for killing a college student who responded to a phony job offer apologized to his victim's family in a letter sent to the Ohio Parole Board.

Richard E. Fox, 46, was convicted in Wood County of kidnapping and murdering Leslie Keckler, 18, of Bowling Green in 1989 after she showed up for what she thought was a job interview.

The hand-printed letter was included in his request for clemency, which was filed Tuesday in advance of his clemency hearing before the board Friday. He is scheduled to be executed Feb. 12.

"He really is deeply and honestly remorseful, and if he has to die on Feb. 12, he wanted to make sure everyone knows how he feels," Greg Meyers, chief of the Ohio Public Defender's death penalty section, said Wednesday.

Mr. Fox wrote in the undated and unsigned letter that he wants Ms. Keckler's family to know that he knows what he did was wrong.

"If I could, I would sit down with my victim's family and try and share how sorry I am, how I have changed and how I wish I could change what happened," he wrote. "I am sorry, and I must pay for my actions, if it be with a life in prison or if it be by my life, I will do what is required as I know I must pay for my mistakes!"

According to court records, Mr. Fox told Ms. Keckler, a freshman at Owens Technical College, to meet him on Sept. 26, 1989, at a hotel to interview for a job selling restaurant supplies. When Ms. Keckler didn't return, her mother and her boyfriend, who had been told about the interview, filed a missing person report.

Her body, with multiple stab wounds and strangulation marks, was found four days later in a rural ditch.

Mr. Fox confessed that he had assaulted Ms. Keckler inside his car after becoming angered that she turned down his advances. Mr. Fox's attorneys maintained that the crime wasn't planned.

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