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Upper Arlington police close 1980 murder of Asenath Dukat, 8

Photo of Asenath Dukat, 8 years old
longwalkhomeua.com
Photo of Asenath Dukat.

Police in Upper Arlington are closing the books on the 1980 murder of 8-year-old Asenath Dukat.

Investigators say DNA evidence shows a man who killed himself four years after the murder is responsible for the girl’s death.

Dukat was discovered dead June 3, 1980, in a creek bed at the corner of Riverside Drive and Waltham Road after she went missing on her walk home from school. Her body was found about a block away from her home a few hours later.

Upper Arlington police say DNA left at the scene matched in 2008 to a man named Brent Strutner, who died by suicide in June 1984. Strutner, 24, was a 1979 graduate of Upper Arlington High School and lived in the area where Dukat was found.

Investigators continued evaluating evidence after the match with his DNA, in an effort to learn if someone else may have also been involved, according to a news release from the department. But, they found nothing new and now consider the case closed.

“In an attempt to determine if there was any possibility that another individual had also participated in this crime in complicity with Strutner, the division then re-examined every piece of evidence collected in the case and resubmitted items for further analysis utilizing the most up-to-date forensic methods available. No results were obtained from any other piece of evidence and there is no additional physical evidence that could connect another individual to the crime,” the news release states.

In addition to forensic examinations, police conducted additional interviews and re-interviews with former officers and other persons of interest.

“None of these efforts, however, has resulted in the discovery of any additional evidence related to the case. In light of this, the division is confident that all investigative leads have been exhausted,” the news release states.

Police Chief Steve Farmer said Dukat’s death was one of the city’s darkest hours and left a lasting, tragic impact still felt by the community.

“This tragic death shook our community in 1980 and the reverberations continue to this day. On June 3, 1980, the community came together in their pain and their commitment to supporting each other. Upper Arlington is known as a community with a strong bond and it has been demonstrated in many ways, none greater than during this dark hour. Our hearts continue to go out to the Dukat Family, and we wish them peace as they continue their healing.”

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Fox joined the WOSU newsroom from the Tribune Chronicle/Vindicator in the Youngstown area, where she’d been a reporter since 2014. Contact Renee at renee.fox@wosu.org.