TALLMADGE, Ohio (WJW) – Two cold case murders are finally solved more than 50 years later.
A Summit County jury found 78-year-old Gus Sapharas of Jackson Township guilty of murdering two young women in the 1970s.
The retired Tallmadge Police Captain and former detective who helped crack the case said it’s never too late for justice to be served.
“He got to live as a free man for a long time knowing that he had done these things,” said retired Captain Doug Bohon. “These two ladies didn’t. You know, they didn’t get to have the joys of life.”
Karen Bentz, 18, of Akron, was stabbed to death in 1970. A few years later in 1975, Loretta Jean Davis, 20, of Brimfield, was discovered also stabbed.
Bohon said both victims were sexually assaulted. He described Sapharas as a serial rapist.
“These women were brutally stabbed,” said Bohon. “Loretta Jean Davis was stabbed twice, but Karen Bentz was stabbed 12 times and had severe strangulation marks and what we call particular hemorrhaging around her eyes and face was quite a struggle from all appearances.”
Sapharas was arrested in 2019 after the case was reopened and previously untested DNA sent for examination. He was charged under the Ohio law when the crimes were committed.
“I kind of determined that, hey, there might be a piece or two of evidence such as the fingernail scrapings taken from Karen during her autopsy, which had never been tested,” said Bohon.
According to Bohon, Sapharas was not a suspect in the Bentz case. However, he was a main suspect in the Davis investigation.
“That spoke the randomness of his M.O., you know, how he would hunt, who he would select, how he would select them and it was random,” said Bohon.
Sapharas was in and out of prison over the years for sexual assault and parole violation. The jury also found him guilty of the abduction and maiming of Bentz.
Many of the victim’s relatives are deceased, Bohon said. Sapharas will be sentenced in early April.
“I don’t think it’s ever too long or too old to go after someone for something like this, because people today are still affected by that. Family members are still affected.”