Carolyn Clark Murder: Where is Ralph Clark Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Killer Attraction: A Cult of Personality’ follows the complex chain of events that led to the gruesome murder of 43-year-old Carolyn Clark in Ashtabula, Ohio, in May 2005. The episode explained how blind faith and devotion acted as a catalyst for the homicide, with the investigators solving the case within hours of the killing. 

How Did Carolyn Clark Die?

Carolyn Joyce Butts Clark was born to the late Lawrence Butts and Mary Frances Parson Butts in Norfolk, Virginia, on October 14, 1961. She was the eighth child of eleven siblings, and her family moved to Portsmouth when she was an infant. She was educated in Portsmouth Public Schools and graduated from Manor High School in 1980. Her parents were deeply religious, and she followed in their footsteps, joining the Morning Star Apostolic Faith Church of God (AFCOG) when she was 19.

According to her family, Carolyn loved to write and scribbled circles with crayons before she could even learn to write the alphabet. Therefore, it was only natural she would serve her church as the Youth Department Secretary, devotional leader, choir member, and soloist. She married Ralph Edward Clark of Jefferson in 1982 and had 13 children with him. Her family and friends recalled her quick wit, with her friend, Helen Waytes, saying, “She could turn even serious situations into something comical.” Carolyn’s son, Paul Clark, reminisced, “My mother was easygoing, easily lovable.”

Hence it came as a shock when her neighbor and friend, Helen, called the police at her 4227 Park Avenue apartment in Ashtabula, Ohio, after hearing breaking glass and screams from her home on May 7, 2005. The officers entered the residence to find the 43-year-old mother lying unconscious in a pool of blood. Though she was in critical condition, she was still clinging to life. She was rushed to the Ashtabula County Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries at 2:55 am. According to news reports, she had been beaten to death with the butt of a rifle, and her face was virtually unrecognizable due to the wounds.

Who Killed Carolyn Clark?

The investigators examined the crime scene to find blood on the carpet and live rounds on the floor, though no shots had been fired. Carolyn had died from blunt force trauma to the head, and the presence of the bullets confused the officers. However, news reports stated five of Carolyn’s 13 children were present inside the apartment when the homicide occurred and had been witnesses to the heinous crime. Child Services interviewed the children to learn their father, Ralph, had been the perpetrator responsible for their mother’s death.

Police officers arrested Ralph from his home on 1031 East Morgan Road, in Jefferson, Ohio, within a few hours of Carolyn’s death based on the children’s testimony. After being arrested, he immediately confessed to the murder, stating he could not bear the pain of being separated from his children. Fueled by rage, he entered his estranged wife’s apartment with a rifle, intending to shoot her. However, he claimed the gun was jammed and beat her to death with the butt of the firearm.

With the case solved, the investigators wanted to understand the chain of events that led to this tragic death and dove deep into Carolyn’s life. According to the show, Carolyn’s parents were devoutly religious and founding members of their evangelical sect. Hence, she was raised strictly in adherence to the conservative rules of their church and religion. However, she defied their authorities when she became pregnant after going out with a boy from school.

When her boyfriend did not want to be involved, Carolyn became a single parent and dedicated her life to the church. Following the church’s rule, she agreed to get married to the suitor selected by Bishop Oree Keyes Sr., the Chief Apostle of Ashtabula County and the highest-ranking member of their denomination. She married Oree’s nephew, Ralph Edward Clark, within five days of meeting him in 1982 and joined his congregation. According to the show, Bishop Oree had multiple businesses, including a car wash and a scrapyard, managed by his son, Charles Keyes.

Ralph worked several jobs for the Keyes family, but none paid well. However, their lives changed when Charles became the leader of their church after Bishop Oree fell sick in June 2002. Within months of coming to power, Charles had withdrawn the affiliation from the Apostolic Church of God Holiness. While he claimed it was over financial issues, other reverends alleged it was due to the board of elders refusing to make him a bishop and young women accusing him of sexual harassment.

According to the show, Carolyn refused to be a part of Charles’ congregation, citing his abusive ways of disciplining members and making them follow their will. She even signed an affidavit dated March 22, 2005, in which she claimed he ordered members to beat her with a belt, hit her children, and sexually abuse her. She also said she feared for her life, and the affidavit was discovered after her death. The episode showed how Ralph refused to go against Charles even when Carolyn complained about the abuses.

Ralph Clark is Behind Bars Today

News reports showed the couple had a bitter argument on October 6, 2004, with Carolyn allegedly throwing stuff at Ralph and him calling 911. She was found guilty of domestic violence charges in February 2005 and was ordered to stay away from her husband, children, and their family home in Plymouth Township. He had also filed for divorce the same month, and Carolyn moved with her five youngest kids to her Park Avenue apartment. According to the show, Charles might have allegedly influenced Ralph to commit the murder, though no legal charges have been brought against him to date.

On May 13, 2005, Ralph, 44, was indicted on one count of aggravated murder with a gun specification and two counts of murder with a gun specification. He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder with a three-year gun specification on January 13, 2006, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after twenty-eight years on January 18. According to official court records, Ralph, now in his early 60s, is serving his sentence at the Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield, Ohio. His inmate records state his first parole board hearing will be held on March 2033.

Read More: Jack Mileski Murder: Where is Claire Welsh Now?