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Wayne County Sheriff's Office (Ohio)
Thursday March 11th, 2010 :: 03:06 p.m. EST


DNA Test Reconfirms Killer’s Identity in 1981 Murder Cordray and local officials bring resolution for family of murd

DNA Test Reconfirms Killer’s Identity in 1981 Murder
Cordray and local officials bring resolution for family of murdered girl

(WOOSTER, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray today joined Wayne County Sheriff Thomas Maurer and Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney Martin Frantz to announce the results of DNA testing recently completed in connection with the 1981 murder of 12 year-old Tina Harmon. Testing performed by Cordray and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) on evidence submitted by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has yielded a positive result reconfirming that suspect Robert Buell was responsible for Harmon’s rape and murder.

“BCI is focused on assisting local law enforcement, and in this case I’m pleased that our 21st-century technology is also providing needed resolution for Tina Harmon’s family and community,” said Attorney General Cordray. “This is another example of the difference that today’s smart investigative tools can make in cases that are either unsolved or re-examined.”

Sheriff Maurer announced last year that his office intended to work with BCI to re-examine evidence from the 1981 murder of the Creston, Ohio girl. Technology available at the time of the crime implicated Robert Buell as the killer. Recent DNA tests matched the perpetrator’s DNA to Buell with only a 1 in 96 trillion chance of a coincidental match.

“I am pleased that we can take evidence from the past that was obtained, secured and stored in evidence over 28 years ago, have it analyzed by BCI using today's technology and be able to confirm completely for the Harmon family that Robert Buell was responsible for this horrific crime,” said Sheriff Maurer. “I have personally met with members of Tina Harmon's family to report to them the results of this testing. When they came to me in December 2008 I promised to review this case and try to give them a final answer as to who was responsible for the death of Tina. Today the investigation in the death of Tina Harmon has been closed.”

Buell was tried and convicted for the 1982 murder of another girl, 11 year-old Krista Harrison, also of Wayne County. Fibers from the Harrison and Harmon cases matched and investigators concluded in the 1980s that Buell was responsible for both crimes. Buell’s death sentence for his conviction in the Harrison case was carried out in 2002. In recent years, the Harmon family inquired as to whether new technology might erase any lingering doubts.

Prosecuting Attorney Frantz, who tried the Harrison case, agreed to the testing. “It is no surprise that Robert Buell is now positively linked to the rape and murder of 12-year-old Tina, who was abducted near her Creston home in October 1981,” said Frantz. “All the evidence in the recently re-opened investigation, including DNA testing, demonstrates that Buell almost certainly acted alone, as he did in similar crimes of which he was convicted. This office considers the case closed. I hope that the Creston community and the family of Tina Harmon find some comfort in knowing for certain the identity of Tina's murderer.”

Wayne County Sheriff's Office (Ohio)
W North St
Wooster, OH 44691

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 330-287-5750

Douglas Hunter
Law Enforcement

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