Former resident testifies at parole hearing

By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — A former Sidney resident is asking for help to keep Richard Gwinn in prison for another 10 years.

Gwinn is currently serving a maximum sentence of 125 years for rapes and burglaries which occurred in Shelby, Auglaize, Hamilton and Clark counties in the 1980s. He was convicted of five rapes — two in Auglaize County, one in Shelby County, one in Hamilton County and one in Clark County. The convictions also included three aggravated burglary charges — two in Auglaize County and one in Hamilton County. Gwinn would break into a house and then rape the woman at the residences.

One of his victims, Celena Lovett McKenna has made it her mission to keep Gwinn in prison for as long as she can. Ten years ago, she testified at his parole hearing and the parole board denied the parole.

Earlier this month, McKenna testified via a teleconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was disappointed she couldn’t testify in person. She said she had notebooks full of information concerning all the cases involving Gwinn.

Gwinn is up for a parole hearing in early April. He was sentenced to prison in 1990 after being found guilty of the rapes and home invasions.

“He’s a serial rapist,” said McKenna. “He’s admitted to raping 30 women prior to a 1976 conviction. He use a home invasion/rape MO in all the cases. He was paroled in 1986 by the parole board.”

McKenna said she was raped by Gwinn in June 1987 when she was 17 years old.

“He raped another woman in Shelby County after that, but he was not prosecuted for it but he admitted that he had done it.”

While in prison in Ohio, Gwinn was convicted in 2014 of the rape of a mother and daughter in Florida, which occurred in September 1988.

Gwinn was arrested in 1990 after he raped two women in Auglaize County. One woman called 911 and Wapakoneta police were able to find Gwinn’s vehicle and arrested him.

Sidney Police Detective Mike Martz was assigned to case when he became a detective. At the time of McKenna’s rape, he was an officer on the force.

“Celena’s case was on June 27, 1987,” said Martz. “On Oct. 18, 1987, they had a second break-in and rape in Sidney. They were in the same neighborhood and had the same MO.

“Once I got into the cases in Sidney, I realized that he was involved with other cases,” said Martz.

Information was sent to other police departments, facts and tips were investigated and the case was ultimately solved.

“I was invested in this,” said Martz. “Myself and the detectives from Springfield and Wapakoneta talked about the cases. We talked to a number of potential suspects. We received lots of tips. Other cases in Ohio had similar MO’s but they weren’t our guy.

“The Wapakoneta Police arrested Gwinn after another break-in,” he said. “She (the victim) was able to call 911. The suspect ran away from the house. The police found a car parked near the residence and it was registered to Gwinn, who was a convicted sex offender. The police watched the vehicle and Gwinn walked up to it and they arrested him.”

After the arrest, DNA from McKenna’s case matched Gwinn’s DNA.

The Shelby County grand jury indicted Gwinn. Cases in Wapakoneta and Springfield were also linked to Gwinn after get a DNA match to the crimes.

“He agreed to a plea deal and plead guilty to all the cases where his DNA matched,” said Martz. “He also admitted to all the other cases that didn’t have a DNA match but had similar MOs.”

Martz said he interviewed Gwinn in April 1990 and “I was convinced that he did all the other rape cases that occurred four months after Celena’s rape.”

Martz said the case had an impact on his health. He ended up in the hospital with stress ulcers.

“I was determined to get this guy,” said Martz. “This wasn’t normal for Sidney. The victims were traumatized for life. Their lives have been changed forever.”

Letters to the parole board to stop Gwinn’s parole should be sent to Ohio department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 4545 Fisher Road, Suite D, Columbus OH 43228. The top of the letter should include Gwinn’s name with his inmate number, A225539.

By Melanie Speicher

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.