Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins announced today that a violent sex offender convicted in three states will be staying in prison for at least the next five years.
The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Victim Rights Advocate Mary Jo Hoso learned from the Ohio Adult Parole Authority on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, that Willis Reitz, 66, who is incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution, has failed in his bid for freedom after being interviewed by parole board members earlier this fall.
Reitz’s next parole hearing will be in May 2028, according to the state corrections website.
Watkins had opposed Reitz’s bid for parole in letters dated June 21, 2023, and July 19, 2011, to parole board members. He called Reitz “as a serial rapist and one of the worst of the worst pedophiles.” Former child assault prosecution staff wrote other letters dated July 15, 2004 and Sept. 2, 1994, strongly opposing any parole release of Reitz.
Watkins, in the letters, detailed Reitz’s crimes against children:
• At age 20 – on Nov. 10, 1977, in North Carolina, Reitz pleaded guilty to assault on a female and misdemeanor breaking and entering, received four-year probation and mental health treatment.
• At age 30 – on Sept. 29, 1987, in Mississippi, he pleaded guilty to rape – sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Reitz received early release after serving only seven years and moved to Ohio.
• At age 37 – on June 17, 1994, he was sentenced to 15 years to life on multiple sex offenses occurring in 1986 and 1994 in Trumbull County. The offenses involved the same female relative, whom he raped when she was 6 prior to going to prison in Mississippi. After getting parole, Reitz came home to Warren and raped the same relative who was then 14 years old.
Now Reitz must remain in prison waiting until 2028 for his next bid at parole. “I am very pleased with the decision of the parole board,” Watkins said Thursday after learning of the outcome of Reitz’s bid. “It’s a good day when the children of this county and state can be safe from someone capable of this kind of evil.”
For more information, contact Guy M. Vogrin, investigator/public information officer for the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office at 330-675-2485.
INCARCERATED: Marion Correctional Institution
PAROLE HEARING: November 2023
REPEAT OFFENDER: Fourth parole from prison request
SENTENCE: 22 years to life sentence on convictions of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery
CRIME: Shotgun shooting death of Lake Milton tavern owner Ron Goche in 1976.
Prosecutor Dennis Watkins noted that Betz was paroled twice from prison before Goche’s killing. Betz robbed Goche of $138 in bar receipts after the shooting.
After spending 30 years in state prison, Betz was paroled for a third time in 2007 despite strong opposition from the victim’s family and the prosecutor’s office. The criminal streak of Betz continued as he landed himself in more trouble. Watkins wrote that Betz received three DUI charges in violation of his parole in 2008, 2010 and 2011. He returned to prison following those incidents.
In a previous letter protesting his release, Watkins called Betz’s crime “one of the worst of the worst cold-blooded premeditated murders of a helpless person one person could envision.”
In Nov. 20, 1975, records show Betz was sentenced to the Ohio State Penitentiary for a second time on a breaking and entering conviction in Columbiana County. He was released from his second prison term’s parole supervision about a month before Goche was murdered, Watkins said. Within six years’ time, Betz does back-to-back-to-back prison sentences.
Testimony at the trial before a three-judge panel in 1977 indicated that Betz shot Goche in the face with a sawed-off shotgun at point-blank range. The man came into Goche’s bar — the Riviera Inn — to rob it. A witness told the court he overheard the bar owner tell Betz to take the day’s receipts of $138 and he wouldn’t do anything to him. Betz fatally shot Goche anyway, Watkins said. Betz’s last words to the victim were: “… don’t worry, we won’t get in trouble.”
“Only a sociopath could commit such a crime, and that is why he always will be a risk to the public,” Watkins writes the parole board. “Please don’t release him on parole for the fourth time. You’re dealing with quintessential evil.”
According to the case file, Betz told the parole board in 2007 he had an autoimmune deficiency that causes skin and joint problems and that 50 percent of victims die within five years, but Watkins said he was not allowed to examine medical evidence of the condition.
In fact, Betz apparent joint problem didn’t prevent him from repeatedly driving a vehicle drunk after he was released for a third time on parole in 2007. The DUIs returned him to prison. One police officer who arrested Betz gave him the moniker “super drunk.”
Now some 16 years later, Watkins said, Betz is still very much alive and again asking for freedom.
“Just say no!” the prosecutor stated.
For more information, contact Guy Vogrin, investigator / public information officer, Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office, 330-675-2485.
Incarcerated at Lake Erie Correctional Institution
PAROLE HEARING: Scheduled for September 2023
TRUMBULL COUNTY CRIMINAL CASE: 1987 cr 00143
CONVICTED: Four counts life rapes and one count attempted rape
TIME SERVED: 36 years
QUOTE: “What Lockney did repeatedly to his (victim) and the sheer magnitude of the intentional violence on her little body parts was so horrific that words cannot serve to give a true explanation of the pain and suffering (she) endured. But the medical records and doctor’s photographs do!”
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins
“David Lockney is a Sexual Predator,” Watkins said. It is emphasized during Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s finding of fact in the case that when David Lockney’s 7-year-old victim was seriously ill with sexually transmitted infections and diseases (caused by him), Lockney said to Barbara Barshney, the victim’s aunt, who viewed the girl’s condition and suggested that she be taken to a hospital for treatment. Lockney told her to mind her own “f---ing “ business and declined. The girl was eventually taken to the hospital by someone else and spent 16 days there recovering. “By the grace of God, she survived and has recovered and gone on with her life,” Watkins said.
The Lockney case was one of the first cases of the new Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Child Assault Division which was started by the office by a federal grant in 1986. In this case, Prosecutor Watkins was co-counsel with attorney Carol Sopkovich who headed the division. Investigator Sue Stinedurf also assisted in the Lockney case.
The grant awarded to the Prosecutor’s Office was the result of the supportive efforts of the Trumbull County Children Services Agency, at the time headed by Craig Neuman. Mary Jane Julian was the CSB case worker on the Lockney case.
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins announced today that a man convicted of sex crimes against multiple children over multiple decades will be staying in prison for at least the next 10 years.
The Ohio Adult Parole Authority informed the prosecutor on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, that William W. Fisher, 73, who is incarcerated in North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, has failed in his bid for freedom after being interviewed by parole board members in August.
Fisher’s next parole hearing will be in June 2033, according to the state corrections website.
Watkins had opposed Fisher’s bids for parole in letters dated July 19, 2023 and Sept. 11, 2013, to parole board members. He called Fisher a repeat sex predator and child rapist.
“William Wayne Fisher had raped different children over three decades, the 70s, 80s and 90s, and the only reason he has not raped another child is because he has been locked up for nearly the past 30 years… He is a multi-generational sexual predator whose middle name should be changed to ‘recidivist with a Capital R’… This man gets indicted for raping family members in 1987, one of whom he raped before, flees Warren, Ohio, and then in 1994 comes back to our town with a new identity as James Watters and rapes children from another family, ages 6, 11, and 12! This man belongs in the Sex Offender Hall of Shame,” Watkins wrote.
Fisher’s criminal record shows he has 12 total felony convictions, 10 of them were sex offenses.
Now with this parole board’s decision, Watkins says Fisher will not get the chance to commit “a baker’s dozen.”
His first prison sentence was for 6 months to 5 years on Oct. 19, 1979 for a conviction of one count of gross sexual imposition. He was given three 10- to 25-year prison sentences and one life sentence for a 1987 conviction of four counts of rape.
On June 7, 1995, Fisher received four life sentences for convictions of three counts life/rape, two counts attempted rape, one count tampering with evidence and one count forgery.
In 1978, Fisher forced a 4-year-old relative to perform oral sex on him He is caught in the act and pleads to a gross sexual imposition and serves three months In prison.
In 1987, Fisher is charged with three counts of rape, vaginal and oral with the same victim and another count of rape with another child. After indictment, Fisher absconds and assumes another identity.
In 1993, Fisher returns to the area using the name James Watters. He begins having oral and vaginal sex with a 6-year-old, an 11-year-old and 12-year-old child. In that case, Fisher had a co-defendant, Devlin Hamlin, who was convicted of attempted rape and gross sexual imposition. Hamlin died in prison in 2003.
Prosecutor Watkins praises the Ohio parole board for denying Fisher’s parole for at least 10 years and allowing victims some “breathing room in not having to re-live their trauma so frequently.”
For more information, contact Guy Vogrin, investigator/public information officer for the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office at 330-675-2485.
An inmate from Trumbull County who was convicted of murdering a man along a Warren street in August 2000 is scheduled for a parole hearing in November, and Trumbull County’s First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Becker this month has written a letter to the parole board opposing his release.
Benjamin Green, who turns 40 on Aug. 30, has spent the last 21-plus years of his life in prison. Becker wrote to the board asking members to keep Green behind bars because he is “a brutal, calculated, cold-blooded killer.”
Four years ago, the 11th District Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling by a Trumbull County judge denying Benjamin Green’s motion to withdraw his January 2002 guilty plea for murder in the shooting death of John Williamson, 18.
According to records, Green was just 16 years old when he fired four shots at Williamson as he rode his bicycle near Austin Avenue and Oak Street SW in Warren. One shot hit Williamson in the back of the head, killing him.
“The defendant … executed the victim as the victim was riding a bicycle on the streets of Warren. The victim fell off of his bcycle and the defendant then walked up to the injured victim and executed him by shooting him in the head,” Becker wrote.
Green told detectives shortly afterward he shot the bicyclist because he thought he might have a gun on him. The victim, Williamson stood just 4-foot 3-inches tall and weighed less than 100 pounds.
“The defendant claims he was afraid of the victim but yet shot and killed him without the victim so much as threatening the defendant let alone doing anything that would warrant his death,” Becker wrote.
In his appeal to withdraw his plea, Green claimed evidence from this interrogation was obtained illegally because he was not accompanied by a lawyer. The appellate court ruled that Green had signed a statement waiving his Miranda right to have a lawyer present when interviewed by detectives.
On Feb. 7, 2002, former Judge Peter Kontos sentenced Green to serve 18 years to life in prison.
In his letter to the parole board dated August 8, 2023, Becker stated Green has “shown he has continued his violent criminal behavior while in prison.” The behavior report from prison shows Green has been caught with weapons, fought with correction officers and other inmates “and in general, not changed his violent behavior.”
“The defendant has clearly demonstrated he cannot control his behavior … he is certainly not suitable for parole,” Becker writes. “Balancing the public safety and this defendants’ rehabilitation, it is clear that scales tip overwhelmingly in favor of (Green’s) continued incarceration.”
Green is presently incarcerated at Allen Correctional Institution.
For more information, contact Guy M. Vogrin, investigator / public information officer for the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office at 330-675-2485.