Ohio man who killed 11 loved ones – including 8 children – on Easter Day 1975 dies in jail – WFTV
HAMILTON, Ohio – An Ohio man who massacred 11 members of his family – including his brother’s eight children – on Easter Day 1975 has died in prison.
James Urban Ruppert, 88, was serving two life sentences when he died last week. According to The Associated Press, prison officials said Ruppert appeared to have died of natural causes.
His official cause of death was pending.
Ruppert, then 40, was convicted of the March 30, 1975 murder of his widowed mother, Charity “Billie” Ruppert, 65, and brother, Leonard Ruppert Jr., 42. He also killed his sister-in-law, Alma. Ruppert, 38, and the eight children of Leonard and Alma Ruppert.
The children were between the ages of 4 and 17, according to dispatches.
“There was a shooting”
A 1975 New York Times article stated that Ruppert called police on Easter Sunday to report the shooting at his mother’s house on Minor Avenue in Hamilton. He stood inside the gate waiting for officers who responded to the two-story house.
What they found inside was a bloodbath. Ruppert’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and three of the children were found dead in the kitchen.
Five of the children were killed in the living room, The Times reported. Ten of the victims had been shot several times, including bullets in the head.
All of the victims had been dead for hours when officers arrived.
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“It was a bloody mess,” Hamilton Police Chief George McNally told the Cincinnati Post in 1975. .
The police initially had difficulty understanding the murders. Ruppert was described by neighbors as a “very quiet person” about whom they knew little.
Ruppert was 10 and his brother was 12 when their father, Leonard Ruppert Sr., died.
“She said her kids were never allowed to be kids,” a neighbor told the Post of Charity Ruppert. “They were always men of the house because their father died at that early age. They were very responsible.
For James Ruppert, that responsibility didn’t seem to carry over into adulthood. An unemployed draftsman, Ruppert had never married and still lived with his mother.
Leonard Ruppert, meanwhile, was a successful electrical engineer. He’s also had much more success on the romance front – with his brother’s ex-girlfriend.
According to contemporary reports, Alma Ruppert had dated James before she married her brother and started their family.
Witnesses later told police that in the days leading up to the murders, James Ruppert was angry with his mother. Charity Ruppert was tired of her youngest son living with her as he spent what little money he had on drinks.
In the month before the murders, James Ruppert had inquired about purchasing silencers for his guns. The day before the murders, he had taken his guns to the Great Miami River, a favorite spot for shooting practice, the New York Daily News reported.
That night he went to his usual bar, the 19th Hole, where he told a bartender acquaintance that his mother intended to kick him out. Charity Ruppert reportedly told her son, “If he could drink seven days a week, he could help pay the rent.
James Ruppert left the bar around 11 p.m. but returned later. The bartender asked if he had resolved the issues he was having with his mother.
“Not yet,” Ruppert replied, according to the newspaper.
“How is this Volkswagen? »
On Easter Sunday, Ruppert woke up hungover to the sound of his brother’s children arriving at their grandmother’s house and enjoying an Easter egg hunt in the front yard. When he came downstairs to say hello, Leonard Ruppert asked his brother an innocuous question.
“How is this Volkswagen? he said, according to the Daily News.
Believing that his brother was insulting him, James Ruppert went back upstairs. The AP reported that when he returned he was armed with three pistols and a rifle.
Leonard Ruppert Jr. was the first to die. According to a 1981 report in the Post, he had been shot seven times.
James Ruppert killed his sister-in-law and his mother, who rushed at him in an unsuccessful attempt to stop him. Charity Ruppert was cooking for her grandchildren when the shots rang out.
Ruppert then pointed his guns at the children: Ann, 12; David, 11; and Theresa, who was 9 years old. Police found them lying next to their parents, blood-splattered Easter candies strewn on the ground around their bodies.
Upon entering the living room, Ruppert was confronted by his eldest nephew, 17-year-old Leonardo III. Like his father, the teenager was shot seven times.
The Daily News reported that Ruppert then sat on the couch and shot the remaining children: Michael, 16; Tommy, 14; Carol, 13; and John, 4.
John, the youngest of the victims, was found lying against the couch, his hands still pressed to his ears to block out the sound of gunfire, the Post reported.
Authorities said Ruppert shot each victim at least once to prevent them from getting away. He then methodically approached each and shot them again to make sure they were dead.
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At trial, a psychiatrist testified that Ruppert then lay on a couch at home for several hours, contemplating suicide, before calling the police. The AP reported that he determined that suicide would be a mortal sin.
Ruppert told the doctor he didn’t want this to be the last thing he did, so he summoned the authorities.
Court records indicate that Ruppert was originally convicted in July 1975 of 11 counts of aggravated murder and received 11 consecutive life sentences. This verdict was later overturned because Ruppert had been wrongly told that it would take a unanimous verdict from a three-judge panel to convict him.
His guilty verdict was returned by a majority vote.
James Ruppert was convicted again in 1982 of murdering his mother and brother. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of Alma Ruppert and the children.
By the time of his second sentencing, the grief of losing an entire family had taken its toll on the few relatives left behind. The Ruppert children’s maternal grandmother, Edna Allgeiers, was widowed three years to the day after the brutal murders.
At 4:30 a.m. on March 30, 1978 – the same minute the couple learned their daughter and grandchildren were gone – Frank Allgeiers put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. His wife, startled awake by the gunshot, found him on their kitchen floor.
Edna Allgeiers sat down for a lengthy interview with the Post in July 1981, as she awaited justice for her family. She said her Catholic faith got her through each painful day.
“Once a friend trying to comfort me said, ‘Think about it, Edna, you have eight little angels in heaven,'” Allgeiers told the newspaper. “I’m a devout Catholic, and all I could think was, ‘If only James Ruppert was in hell. “”
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