Witnesses testify in hearing for 76-year-old man accused of killing 2 Tallmadge women in the 1970s

Witnesses testify in hearing for 76-year-old man accused of killing 2 Tallmadge women in the 1970s
Gustave Sapharas (Source: 19 News)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The 76-year-old Stark County man arrested in 2019 for the murders of two women in the 1970s had a hearing before Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison Breaux Thursday.

Witnesses testified at the virtual hearing for Gustave Sapharas.

The prosecution brought up more than 3 witnesses, all testifying and painting Sapharas as a seriel attacker of women.

The first witness painted a potentially damaging portrait of him saying Sapharus, in unrelated incident, raped her after getting into a car accident with her and kidnapping her.

" I of course did not want to do that so I was pulling away from him as hard as I could and that made him angry so he choked me again and this time he shook me like a rag doll " said the witness.

Sapharus eventually left his victim on the side of the road, and months later was arrested for the rape.

But the case was mistried and Sapharus walked free.

The prosecution then shifted its attention to other witnesses, including former police officers who spoke about another case in 1975 where a woman was driven around and allegedly raped by Sapharus.

This attack happened in Akron, but they found her after in Cuyahoga falls.

" She said he produced a knife and told her that she was to cooperate with him or she would be hurt " said the witness.

Sapharus did come forward in this case, telling Cuyahoga falls police he had sex with the woman but it was consensual.

The witness said a report was made for Akron Police but believes no charges were ever filed.

Bentz, one of the women who is now dead was found on the side of the road stabbed.

A third witness also testified, claiming Sapharus offered her a ride that led him to chocking her unconscious and when she came to her pants were off.

In both cases, the women remember Sapharus pulling out a knife and chocking them.

Tallmadge police arrested Sapharas at his Jackson Township home on Sept., 6, 2019.

According to police, Sapharas stabbed Karen Bentz, 18, to death on Indian Hills Drive in Tallmadge on April 28, 1970.

The second victim, Loretta Jean Davis, 20, was found on Sept. 28, 1975 on Congress Lake Road in Portage County.

Police said they believe Davis was stabbed to death in Tallmadge, before being left on the side of the road.

Sapharas is charged with aggravated murder, murder, attempted rape, kidnapping and maiming or disfiguring another.

He is being held on a $5 million bond.

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