Guilty plea in Wood County murder cold case

The 40-year-old murder of a Toledo woman in Wood County has been resolved with a guilty plea.

Kenneth Holmes, 68, was convicted of murder by Wood County Common Pleas Judge Matthew Reger for the August 1983 death of Patricia Ann Heer, 30. Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson made the announcement on Friday.

Holmes, who is already in jail for aggravated murder and rape, pleaded guilty to the single count and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The facts of the case were related by Wood County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Dexter Phillips.

The case was opened in September 1983 when the skeletal remains of Heer, a South Toledo resident, were found near the intersection of Poe and Custar roads. The remains were identified as Heer’s through dental records.

Due to the deteriorated state of Heer’s remains, the coroner ruled her death as undetermined-presumed homicide.

During an investigation of a separate case related to Holmes, investigators obtained a search warrant on a cabin owned by Holmes along the Maumee River west of Grand Rapids in Henry County near the Henry-Wood County line.

During the execution of that search warrant, articles of the clothing in which Heer was last seen and other items belonging to her were located. Heer was known to be familiar with Holmes who, at the time, also lived in South Toledo.

Despite multiple continuing investigations throughout the years, law enforcement was never able to find evidence directly connecting Holmes to Heer’s death, according to the Friday press release.

Recent investigations by Henry County Sheriff Michael Bodenbender and former Wood County Sheriff’s Office Det.-Sgt. Ginnie Barta made strides in developing the case against Holmes.

Based upon that work, Barta and Wood County Prosecutor’s Office Investigator Todd Curtis interviewed Holmes, who is serving prison sentences at the Marion Correctional Institution for 1984 convictions for aggravated murder and rape out of Henry County and a 1990 convictions for kidnapping, felonious assault and attempted rape out of Warren County.

As a result of the interview, Holmes confessed to murdering Heer at his cabin and abandoning her body in Wood County, Dobson said.

“Law enforcement never gives up on a case, especially a homicide case,” Dobson said. “Cases get handed down from detective to detective, from sheriff to sheriff, sometimes from generation to generation. But those lost lives are not forgotten and they are not abandoned.

“The friends and family of Patricia Ann Heer now know what happened to their loved one and can now at least rest in knowing that justice is being served upon him. Kenneth Holmes is now serving sentences for a fuller picture of the crimes he has committed. I want to thank the detectives and investigators over the years who have kept vigilance over this case.”

Holmes entered his plea and was sentenced through his appearance via video from Marion Correctional.