Northfield man gets life in prison for 1992 beating death of his girlfriend

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AKRON, Ohio– A Northfield man convicted three times of killing his girlfriend more than 25 years ago was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.

(Photo courtesy: Summit County Prosecutor’s Office)

A Summit County jury found Willard McCarley, 53, guilty of aggravated murder on Wednesday. Common Pleas Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years. He will get credit for time already served.

Investigators said McCarley beat, strangled and suffocated Charlene Puffenbarger, 26, in her apartment in Twinsburg Township on Jan. 20, 1992. Her two young sons were at home at the time of the brutal murder.

“After the agony of losing a loved one in such a brutal manner, and suffering through 25 years and three trials, Charlene’s family can now know that justice has been served. Three juries have now found McCarley guilty of aggravated murder,” said Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, in a news release Thursday afternoon.

“We will never stop fighting for Charlene or her family. McCarley has earned every day of his life sentence for this murder.”

McCarley was arrested in 2004. Prosecutors said they linked him to the murder through DNA on a belt used to strangle Puffenbarger.

He was convicted of aggravated murder in 2005 and 2007. But both verdicts were overturned, granting him new trials.

Past stories on Willard McCarley here