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Hamilton, Ohio – Easter Sunday, March 30, 1975—probably sometime near the time of day you’re reading this article, James Ruppert was in the process of killing his entire family.

James was an excellent marksman so there was no better way to execute his mother, brother, sister-in-law, and each of their eight kids than to shoot them point blank, as if they were nothing more than a row of empty and discarded tin cans. And that’s precisely what he did, starting with his brother Leonard.

Next came Leonard’s wife, Alma, followed by James’ own mother, Charity. And, before either of the children could escape disaster, James shot and killed them, including four-year-old John the youngest of the Ruppert brood.

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Leonard Ruppert, his wife, Alma, and their children.

The massacre took no more than five minutes.

James positioned his weapons throughout the house, staging the scene much as would a Realtor who carefully and meticulously places items in preparation of showing a house to potential clients.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

Then, when he was satisfied that everything all was in order, James called the police and calmly stated, “There’s been a shooting.”

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Ruppert crime scene photo – living room

Officer Bob Minor was the officer who responded to the call. Officer Terry Roberts would arrive a few moments later, as backup.

Ruppert home

Officer Minor, no stranger to gruesome homicide scenes, had never witnessed anything close to the carnage he saw inside the Ruppert House—the once neat-as-a-pin living room cluttered with the corpses of Charity Ruppert’s precious grandchildren, and a kitchen so full of dead bodies that Minor couldn’t make his way through without stepping on an arm, leg, or a torso. There was so much blood, Minor later told me, that it had begun to seep through the floorboards, dripping into the basement.

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Ruppert crime scene photo – kitchen

James Ruppert was originally found guilty of eleven counts of 1st degree murder. However, on appeal, a three-judge panel  found Ruppert guilty only of the murders of his mother and brother. They ruled him not guilty by reason of insanity for the nine other deaths.

Rupoert was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years, to a maximum of a life sentenced. He entered the Ohio state prison on July 30, 1982. He’s been denied parole at each hearing.

James Ruppert’s next parole hearing is scheduled for February, 2025.

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James Ruppert inmate photo in 2015

James Ruppert inmate photo in 2020


Hamilton, Ohio – June, 1996

Twenty years after the Ruppert murders, a second gruesome killing occurred in a two-story duplex across the street from the house at 635 Minor Avenue, the home where James killed his family.

It was at 622 Minor Avenue where Timothy Bradford slashed the throat of his girlfriend, Tina Mott, killing her.

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622 Minor Ave. I stood in the front yard of the Ruppert house to take this photo.

Bradford, in attempt to cover his tracks, slowly and methodically used 19 knives, a hacksaw, a meat cleaver, and a pair of pliers to dismember his girlfriend’s body. He later scattered most of her remains in a nearby field and lake.

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Bathtub where Timothy Braford dismembered and skinned the body of his girlfriend, Tina Mott.

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Two young boys found Tina’s skull while fishing.

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Marks on the skull indicated the use of a serrated knife blade to scrape away flesh and tissue.

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Tina Mott

Tina’s former next-door neighbors told me that they’d occasionally seen her shadow pass by the windows in her apartment. Another neighbor firmly believed that Bradford consumed portions of Tina’s flesh after cooking it on a grill outside on the balcony. The upstairs apartment where Tina lived and died burned in April 2020. The fire started on the balcony.

*Tina expressed on numerous occasions how spooky it was to live across the street from the Ruppert house, a place where people had been murdered.


Here’s part of Bradford’s confession to police.

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Per a negotiated plea agreement, Timothy Bradford was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.

Bradford’s booking photo at the time of his arrest

He was sentenced to 12-25 years for his crimes—Voluntary Manslaughter, Misuse of Credit Cards (Tina’s, after he killed her), Theft, and Abuse of a Corpse. He entered Ohio’s state prison system on September 24, 1997, just over a year after he murdered Tina Mott. He, too, has been denied parole at each hearing, including the last in June of 2015.

Bradford is scheduled for mandatory release on December 6, 2023. He will have completed serving his full 25-year sentence at that time.

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Timothy Bradford’s 2015 inmate photo.

Timothy Bradford’s current inmate photo.

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I wrote about each of these murders and the story was published in the true crime anthology, Masters of True Crime, Chilling Stories of Murder and the Macabre.

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Masters of True Crime is also available as an audio book.

 

Murder on Minor Avenue

Murder On Minor Avenue

(excerpt from Chapter 14 of Masters Of True Crime: Chilling Stories Of Murder And The Macabre)

James responded to his brother’s question by immediately shooting him to death. No hesitation. No brief thoughts of the “good old days.” No moment of brotherly love. Nothing. Just a couple of rapid trigger pulls, and his brother was dead. Then James quickly fired a round at Alma and another at Charity, his own mother. When their bodies hit the floor, he quickly blasted a round, point-blank, into each of their skulls.

James then killed two of the kids in the kitchen in the same manner, first a round or two to drop them, and then one to the head to be sure they were dead.

The third child made a futile attempt to escape through the back door but was gunned down before she could reach the safety of outdoors. Her body came to rest backed up to a full-length mirror hanging beside a bathroom door in the narrow hallway. The grisly reflection clearly showed an exit wound in the little girl’s back. It also doubled the appearance of the large pool of blood surrounding her head, oozing its way along the baseboard.

Charity Ruppert, the family matriarch, lay dead on the cold linoleum—her midsection a mangled mess. Her right hand rested above her right breast. The left stretched above her head, as if reaching for something just out of her grasp. Her slacks and dress shoes were painted in blood spatter. Her eyeglasses lay beside her on the floor, tangled in her wavy hair. The expression frozen on her face was one of surprise and disbelief. Her eyes stared blankly skyward.

Alma almost appeared to be sleeping, lying partially on her right side with her cheek against the cool floor. Her glasses were still in place. Her right leg was curled gently beneath her, and her left leg was extended straight to where her foot rested in one of her dead children’s blood-matted hair. Her husband’s face was a few inches away, in a puddle of their daughter’s blood.

James reloaded his guns and calmly made his way to the living room, where he began firing at each of the five remaining kids, as if he were in a field taking target practice at a row of tin cans. And to be certain that no one but him would ever receive a dime of the insurance money, he walked around the crumpled bodies of the dying children and fired a single shot to each of their heads.

Standing in the center of the living room, James surveyed the aftermath of his actions. An overturned wastebasket with its contents—wadded papers and cigarette butts—scattered across the space. The corner of a TV Guide rested against the black tennis shoe of one of the dead boys. A caricature of Bea Arthur’s face stared back at James from the cover of the magazine.

A child’s Disney book lay in the center of the carpet. Mickey Mouse’s wide smile and trademark ears were out of place among the carnage. A little girl’s body lay in a corner, her feet clad in black and white saddle oxfords, tangled in a heap of boxes that had once been stacked neatly against the wall. She’d apparently been trying to escape but had backed into the corner, trapped, where her uncle took aim and shot her. Her body fell to the floor, face-up beside a bouquet of fresh Easter flowers. Her head was a bloody mess.

Charity Ruppert’s once neat-as-a-pin living room was now cluttered with the corpses of her precious grandchildren.

With his entire family now out of the way, James was ready for the final stage of his plan: to prove he was mentally incapable to stand trial for the murders, the only way that he could legally claim the inheritance.

James moved about the house, carefully positioning each of his guns on various pieces of furniture. Two revolvers on the coffee table and another on the arm of the couch, along with a box of bullets. A rifle beside the refrigerator, and four boxes of bullets as well as several loose rounds of ammunition on the kitchen table. Yes, everything was just right. Perfect, actually. Only a person not fit to stand trial would do what he’d just done.

It was time to call the police.

*Also available as an audiobook.