TALLMADGE, Ohio (WJW) – A 78-year-old man has now learned he will spend the rest of his life behind bars for two cold case murders that took place in Tallmadge in the 1970s.

On Wednesday, a judge sentenced Gustave “Gus” Sapharas. Just last month, he was found guilty of the two brutal murders.

“The fact is that for 50 years he has evaded responsibility and punishment for the acts that he committed,” said prosecutors.

According to officials, Sapharas is responsible for the deaths of Karen Bentz, 18, and Loretta Jean Davis, 20.

Police say Bentz left her parent’s home in Akron on the night of April 28, 1970, and her body was recovered the next morning on Indian Hills in Tallmadge.

Davis was last seen in a car with a man in Tallmadge on September 28, 1975, and her body was recovered the next morning in Suffield along Congress Lake Road.

Both victims had been stabbed in the chest and dumped.

Police told FOX 8 Bentz had been stabbed at least a dozen times and, according to an indictment, Bentz’s body was badly disfigured, suggesting she was tortured before she died.

“God forgive me but I hope you burn in hell,” said the elderly sister of one of the victims in court on Wednesday. “This has haunted me since I was 14 years old.”

The woman’s full impact statement can be heard, here:

The Tallmadge Police Department explained on its Facebook page, the case against Sapharas was reopened by Captain Doug Bohon, who retired last summer but remained committed to the case that dates back to the disappearance of two local women in the 1970s.

According to the Tallmadge Police Department Facebook page, the conviction of Sapharas was “one of the proudest moments in TPD history and most likely the greatest individual achievement as well.”

“The fact is he probably still wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for a number of people,” said prosecutors, who said the average age of witnesses in the case was 76 years old.

Tallmadge police said they developed new evidence in 2013 that led them to Sapharas, who was eventually arrested at his home in Jackson Township.

Sapharas has been behind bars since 2019. Attorneys said Sapharas plans to appeal his conviction.