Police in Ohio recovered the bodies of a child rape suspect and a family member of his alleged victim on Sunday morning, after a suspected murder-suicide.
Wesley Thomas, aged 34, and a 31-year-old woman, were found dead in New Lyme Wildlife Area, Ashtabula County.
Because the woman was a family member of the alleged rape victim, Newsweek has taken the decision not to name her.
The bodies were first reported at around 8.20 a.m. by a passerby, who spotted them near a minivan in the nature area, about 13 miles to the south of Jefferson.
Troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded and found each body appeared to have a gunshot injury, with a firearm recovered from the scene.
Police have not said which of the two they believe may have fired the gun.
Ohio State Highway Patrol found the bodies of 34-year-old Wesley Thomas and a 31-year-old woman at the New Lyme Wildlife Area.ASHTABULA COUNTY JAIL
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States, nearly two out of three child victims are between the ages of 12 and 17.
RAINN also reported that perpetrators of sexual violence oftentimes know their victim and that out of every 1,000 of these perpetrators, 520 will be released while awaiting trial.
Thomas, from Orwell, was arrested on June 14 after being indicted on rape charges, according to court documents. He pleaded not guilty, and was released on a $75,000 bond on August 19.
Under the terms of his release, Thomas agreed to wear a GPS bracelet, not to leave his sister’s apartment, and not to have contact with the woman who was found dead with him in New Lyme Wildlife Area.
Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O’Toole explained why Thomas had been allowed out of jail on Monday morning. She told journalists the 34-year-old had no previous criminal history and a risk assessment concluded he was unlikely to re-offend.
O’Toole said: “The issue of child sexual assault is always very complicated because the child was removed from the home, and he had no access to the child.
“Because he had no access to the child, he was considered—according to all of our evidence-based practices—as being a low risk to re-offend in the area of sexual assault, and he has no prior offenses that we have in our system.”
She added: “We need to be honest, and we need to disclose what happened and we need to figure out if there was a failure somewhere, a system failure, or something else that cause these types of things to occur and that’s how we improve as a community.”
O’Toole said the rape charge against Thomas will be dismissed since he is now deceased.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has been contacted for comment.