Child Killer To Be Released From Prison
Next Saturday is a day that many people in law enforcement hoped they would never see -- the day a child killer walks free.
The Franklin County prosecutor says that will happen because this killer slipped through the cracks in the legal system.
Photos of Barbara Sue Caulley show her as a blue-eyed toddler with a cherubic smile, then as a young teenager with a cascade of curls. But there are no pictures past age 14, because that's when her life was cut short.
In 1988, she was murdered by Robert Wells. He stabbed her 56 times.
Police found Barbara Sue in a basement, bound and bitten. The bite marks matched Wells.
But instead of murder and rape, the judge, who is now deceased, sent Wells to prison for voluntary manslaughter.
Though the law has since been changed, back then, voluntary manslaughter could not be not classified as a sexually oriented offense.
Six years ago, her mother, Evelyn, and other family members convinced the parole board to leave Wells in prison. But on Saturday, after serving all 25 years of his sentence, Wells is set to go free -- with no restrictions.
"I have opposed his release on parole over a long period of time on the basis that I believed him to be a ticking time bomb that he was likely to re-offend. And I still have that belief," Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.
O'Brien says the state can't track Wells as a sexual predator, nor can it restrict his behavior.
"He seems to fall through a crack where he won't be required to register," O'Brien said.
So Wells is free to live next to a school or day care, if he wishes. And Wells won't report to a parole officer, because he'll be released, not paroled.
"There'll be no restrictions on him when he's released," O'Brien said.
But O'Brien stressed that he thinks these circumstances are unique and won't allow future offenders to slip through safeguards the same way.
"I'm confident that in the future, someone like Mr. Wells would be able to be labeled, as long as the evidence was sufficient to show that there was sexual motivation," he added.
There was an attempt to change Ohio law to classify a prisoner as a sexual oriented offender, and keep Wells locked up.
But O'Brien says the courts have ruled that you can't apply a law retroactively that would add punishment to someone already in prison, so the legislature dropped the attempt.
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