October 12, 2015
Rebecca Cade (31) is beaten and stabbed to death
On October 12, Cade and several others joined together for an outdoor party around a bonfire. Sometime during the evening, Cade was attacked with a rock and a knife. She fled her attacker and attempted to jump over a large chain-link fence surrounding an electric substation, though the sleeve of her sweatshirt snagged on the fence. Cade died before she was able to release herself.
Workers found Cade’s body on the morning of October 13; she was suspended approximately 2 feet (0.6 meters) off the ground. The workers initially believed the body was a Halloween decoration but quickly realized their error as they took Cade down.
It was revealed Cade had died from injuries to her head and face. She had been beaten with a rock and had multiple cuts to her face and head, including a knife wound descending from the top of her head into her face, “distorting the face significantly”. Cade’s back had also been burned through three layers of clothing — a sweatshirt, t-shirt, and undershirt — which was inflicted either shortly before or after her death. Additionally, Cade’s nose was broken, she had bruising to her hands, chin, and jaw, and had spinal and brain injuries. It was also determined Cade had fought back against her attacker with enough force to tear her bicep muscles in both arms, leaving one severed entirely and the other partially severed.
Investigators quickly narrowed their suspects to Donnie Cochenour Jr. (27). His sister told police Cochenour had come to her home on the evening of Cade’s death, where he showered and changed clothing. The clothes he had been wearing were bloody and muddy, and Cochenour’s sister helped him discard them. His sister also told police Cochenour had mentioned he had fought with Cade and he thought he may have killed her.
Cochenour admitted to police to having consensual sex with Cade on October 12, but stated the two had argued which resulted in Cade biting Cochenour and Cochenour striking Cade before they parted ways. Cochenour was soon arrested for and charged with Cade’s murder.
At trial, the prosecution contended Cochenour had been the one to attack Cade and presented Cochenour’s discarded clothing, which had been recovered by police, into evidence. A forensic expert testified the blood on Cochenour’s jeans was consistent with Cade’s blood. The prosecution also noted Cochenour’s sister’s statement to police regarding Cochenour’s admission of assaulting Cade.
The defense admitted there was a “linkage” between their client and Cade, but argued there had been several people at the “rowdy” bonfire, some who disliked Cade and any of whom could have potentially attacked her. Cochenour’s sister testified she had lied to police when she told them her brother’s confession about attacking Cade, and stated he had told her the blood on his clothing was the result of being “jumped.” The sister admitted to concealing evidence, however, and later served a year in jail for evidence tampering.
The defense also called two witnesses who saw Cade on the night of her murder. One man testified he had seen Cade assaulted by an unidentified woman in an alleyway, who pinned Cade to the ground and beat her about the head. The witness admitted his memory of that night was hazy, however, due to alcohol as well as a head injury he received after getting into a fistfight. Another witness testified she had been sitting on her porch when she saw Cade get into a car with three occupants.
The jury deliberated over two days in 2017, at one point informing the judge they were deadlocked. The judge instructed the jurors to deliberate further, which they did. They returned with a verdict of not guilty. The jurors were unavailable for comment following the trial but it was presumed they felt others at the party also had the motive and opportunity to kill Cade, leaving reasonable doubt as to Cochenour’s guilt.
Following the verdict, Prosecutor Matt Schmidt told reporters, “I am disappointed, not only for Rebecca Cade’s family but the community as well. And that’s all I have to say at this time.”
Lane, Mary Beth. “Chillicothe man acquitted of woman’s murder.” The Columbus Dispatch. April 14, 2017. Accessed: October 12, 2020. https://www.dispatch.com/news/20170414/chillicothe-man-acquitted-of-womans-murder
Thorne, Michael. “Jury finds Donnie Cochenour Jr. not guilty of murder.” Chillicothe Gazette. April 14, 2017. Accessed: October 12, 2020. https://www.chillicothegazette.com/story/news/crime/2017/04/14/jury-still-out-donnie-cochenour-murder-trial/100468716/
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Reitzel, Rick. “Trial continues for man accused of killing woman with rock.” NBC4 WCMH-TV. April 12, 2017. Accessed: October 12, 2020. https://www.nbc4i.com/news/trial-continues-for-man-accused-of-killing-woman-with-rock/amp/
Letizia, Jim. “Chillicothe Police Identify Body Of Woman Found Dangling From Fence.” WCBE. October 15, 2015. Accessed: October 12, 2020. https://www.wcbe.org/post/chillicothe-police-identify-body-woman-found-dangling-fence
Clearly, Tom. “Donnie Cochenour Jr.: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.” Heavy. October 15, 2015. Accessed: October 20, 2015. https://heavy.com/news/2015/10/donnie-cochenour-jr-rebecca-cade-chillicothe-ohio-woman-killed-dead-death-hanging-fence-halloween-decoration-photos-video/