Jailed for burglary, assault and theft in Clinton in 1992

ADRIAN – A man who committed a string of violent crimes in three states more than three decades ago will likely die in prison after being sentenced Friday in Lenawee County Circuit Court.

Ricky Nelson Bixler, 64, was in jail in Ohio in February 2023 when he was arrested on charges that he broke into a Clinton home in November 1992, sexually assaulted a woman inside and stole money from her. He became police chief in 2018 and had noticed that the sexual assault kit containing a DNA sample taken after the Clinton attack was still in the police station’s evidence room, Lenawee County Prosecutor Jackie Wyse said. He had it tested again and a match was made in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) with Bixler.

CODIS stores DNA samples collected from known offenders, as well as samples collected from submitted evidence.

Bixler, who is originally from the Bowling Green, Ohio area, has been in prison since 1994 and has a lengthy criminal history with several convictions for crimes including kidnapping, robbery and assault in Kansas and Ohio. DNA technology and testing processes have improved over the years, said Cuevas and retired Clinton Police Office Tory Terrill, the original investigating officer. Kansas had to update its laws to collect DNA from newly convicted felons and those already in prison so Bixler’s sample could be placed in CODIS. A match to his DNA led to his incarceration in Ohio.

A district court jury convicted Bixler in February of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, armed robbery and burglary of a building with intent to commit the Clinton attack.

Circuit Judge Anna Marie Anzalone sentenced Bixler Friday to 30 to 50 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, armed robbery convictions and 10 to 50 years for burglary. The convicts will be served concurrently. She credited him with the 444 days he had already served since his arrest and ordered him to pay court costs. She read through some of Bixler’s criminal history, starting in 1977 with a misdemeanor charge and continuing with convictions for burglary and theft in Michigan and Ohio before committing the attack in Clinton and others in Ohio and Kansas in 1992 and 1993 .His history includes a sexual assault. from his 12-year-old stepdaughter, she said.

“I thank God for the technology, I thank God for Chief Cuevas, who had the dedication to continue submitting (the DNA sample). We were able to locate you so many years later,” Anzalone told Bixler before issuing the sentences. “…I don’t know how many women you’ve raped, but you’re part of the reason women and girls aren’t safe in their homes, in their schools, in their cars. You’re part of the reason why women aren’t safe anymore .

“I’m glad you’re seeking forgiveness, but that’s between you and God, because you’re clearly not going to get it from anyone here today.”

The woman who survived the attack in Clinton, as well as the victims in the attacks in Ohio and Kansas, addressed the court on Friday.

The Clinton survivor told Anzalone that she was home with her two children and five other children she was babysitting when “a stranger walked through the back door, put a large knife to my throat and pushed me to the back door.” able to convince him that I can’t leave all these little kids alone, so he forced me upstairs to a bedroom, where he then raped and robbed me just a few feet away from a newborn baby.

Before leaving, he pointed the knife at her back and threatened to find her if she told police, she said, thinking he would stab her at that point.

The attack had lifelong consequences, she said, describing feelings of fear, mistrust, depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I have lived in fear all my life, until today, when he is sentenced,” she said, asking the court to give him a life sentence as he imposed on her.

“May God have mercy on his soul,” she said.

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The Kansas victim said Bixler broke into the church she loved and where she was in charge of children’s programs. He was arrested about a week after the assault and has been in custody ever since. She said the attack had long-lasting effects on her family and her church family. She said she contemplated suicide and discussed fears about HIV and victims’ rights in the 1990s.

“We didn’t know anything about HIV. The first thing my 15-year-old son said to me was, ‘Mom, what if he gave you something?’ I didn’t know. I had no right to his HIV information. Every time my kids took a sip of my soda, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I might have killed them.’ Because at that time we didn’t know how HIV spread.”

He begged Anzalone to keep Bixler behind bars. He was scheduled to be released from his prison sentence in Ohio in 2028. She said she didn’t know if she would be able to continue living where she is if he is released.

The woman who attacked Bixler in Putnam County, Ohio, in 1992 wondered how someone as bad as Bixler could have survived in prison for so long.

“Why isn’t he dead yet?” she asked. The reason, she said, is so Clinton’s victim could have her day in court.

She said she is at peace with what happened, but she doesn’t want Bixler to be released and for him to take responsibility. She said he has not taken responsibility and accused police of failing to arrest him.

Bixler, sporting a long, gray beard, black-framed glasses and orange prison garb, told the court that while in prison he has become aware of what he has done and “deals with it every day I had to look in the mirror. “

He said he seeks forgiveness from God and told the victims he is “sorry for what you went through.”

He also said he wants the state of Ohio to update its statute of limitations laws so older cases can be prosecuted and that he will admit to his past crimes.

The women’s strength and courage have been the catalyst for his changes, he said.

“There is no place in society for people like me,” he said.

Wyse noted in his address to the court that Bixler had still not taken responsibility and said he was “sorry for what they went through.”

“It’s not what they went through. It’s what he did to them,” she said.

The women, she said, “will forever be heroes to me because of what they went through.”

Hearing Bixler say there were other victims gave her chills, Wyse said, adding that his true goal in offering resolution for his crimes in Ohio is an effort to return there and end his time in Michigan not to spend.

That Bixler “has been a good kid” in prison does not diminish the consequences of his actions, said Assistant Lenawee County Prosecutor Amanda Wagner, who stepped in with Chief Assistant Prosecutor Allison Arnold after Wyse fell ill at the facility. morning the trial began.

“I don’t want to call (the women) Mr. Bixler’s victims after today because they survived him,” Wagner said. “And the support they’ve shown each other by standing up for each other here is something I’ve never seen before.”

It was clear the Bixler had never experienced so much love and support, she said.

During the trial, Wagner disputed Bixler’s statement that the police were not doing their job. She said former Clinton Police Chief Terrill, Mike Randolph, Cuevas and others were doing their jobs. She also gave Wyse credit for the work so she and Arnold could take over the process.

“Good police work and good technology got us here,” Terrill said in court after the hearing.

— Contact reporter David Panian at [email protected] or follow him on X, formerly Twitter: @lenaweepanian.