The Washington Times-Herald

January 12, 2011

Corpse abuse case continues

By Nate Smith
Washington Times-Herald

WASHINGTON — An Ohio man charged with abusing a corpse told investigators that he did not know the woman was dead when they were having sex, according to police documents.

Richard Elwood Sanden, 55, Geneva, Ohio, was further charged with necrophilia and mutilating a corpse, along with his original charges of abuse of a corpse, possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

His original bond of $4,500 was raised Tuesday to $500,000 following the additional charges.

The charges all stem from the death of Rebecca Whitehead, 48, 900 S. Meridian St., Bldg. 3, Apt. 25, at around 8 p.m. Saturday night. The original reports of a Sunday morning call are incorrect.

Washington Police were called to the scene at 9:33 p.m. and Whitehead was found in the apartment. When Det. Mike Healy arrived at 9:48 p.m., Sanden was in the hallway. Daviess County Coroner Stephen Cullen was also called.

Sanden told police that he met Whitehead on a telephone dateline and had known her for three and a half months. He told police that the two were having sexual relations up until he noticed she was not breathing and called an ambulance. The last time he spoke to Whitehead was at 8 p.m.

Sanden said he did not notice she was dead and as soon as he realized, he performed CPR on her. He also told police that the two had been drinking and smoking marijuana. During a search of the apartment, officers found a video camera. Sanden said he had moved the camera into the bedroom so the EMT would not see it.

Whitehead’s body was then transported for an autopsy and Sanden was taken to the police station. After a viewing of the tape, additional charges were filed.

Sanden admitted the marijuana was his and gave background information. When confronted that he may have known that Whitehead had died, he denied he knew. He was then taken to the Daviess County Security Center.

Sanden was interviewed again on Sunday and asked about previous sexual assault charges against him. The charges, made by an ex-girlfriend, were later dropped, he told investigators.

Other videotapes were found at the scene, investigators said, and when confronted, Sanden said they were of other women he met on the phone dateline.

The cause of death remains under investigation pending results of the autopsy. Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday.