New York man gets nine years in prison for 1996 break-in and rape of elderly Howland woman

Staff report


Jack L. Sheetz, 49, got nine years in prison Wednesday for breaking into a house on Orchard Avenue Southeast in Howland in 1996 and raping the elderly woman living there.

Sheetz was living in Utica, N.Y., at the time that Howland detectives learned that DNA they submitted to the state crime lab in late 2015 was a match for Sheetz. He was brought back to Trumbull County to face trial.

Chris Becker, assistant county prosecutor, said nine years was a good sentence for a cold case like this in which the victim is deceased and therefore not available to testify.

Sheetz pleaded guilty in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to rape, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery before receiving his sentence.

Sheetz was renovating a home next door to the woman, 75, at the time he broke in at night and raped her, Paul Monroe, former Howland police chief, now county sheriff, said.

Sheetz was a suspect in the case at the time it happened, but police did not have enough evidence to charge him, Monroe said.

A new piece of DNA evidence that had been overlooked earlier in the investigation was submitted to the state crime lab in late 2015, Monroe said.

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