Stephanie Hummer Murder: Where is Jonathan Gravely Now?

Image Credit: WLWT/YouTube

When 18-year-old Stephanie Hummer went missing while walking back to her dorm room in Colombus, Ohio, law enforcement did their best to bring her back safely. However, about 10 hours after the incident, a local railroad worker found her deceased body a few miles away from the Ohio State University Campus. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Unusual Suspects: End of the Line’ chronicles the gruesome murder and follows the police investigation that finally brought the killer to justice.

How Did Stephanie Hummer Die?

A freshman at The Ohio State University, Stephanie Hummer was just 18 at the time of her murder. While she originally hailed from Finneytown, Ohio, most of her friends and family spoke about her high aspirations for the future. In fact, apart from being an athlete and an editor for the school yearbook at Finneytown High School, she even got a full scholarship to OSU as an Evan’s Scholar. On top of it, the teenager was described as a lively and down-to-earth individual who loved making new friends and helping out wherever possible. The show states that Stephanie had a bright outlook on life and had absolutely no reason to believe that a simple walk home from a party would snatch her life away so cruelly.

Image Credit: WLWT/YouTube

On March 6, 1994, Stephanie was attending a party with her friends when she suddenly felt tired and decided to walk back to her dorm room alone. Unfortunately, that was a grave mistake as the teenager never made it back alive, and the police were soon informed of her disappearance. Hence, while Stephanie’s family made their way down to Colombus from Finneytown, the police left no stone unturned and used every single facility available to them in the search. They even organized search parties along with local volunteers and combed through the city but to no avail, as Stephanie was nowhere to be found.

As the hours ticked by, Stephanie’s loved ones began fearing the worst, and those fears were confirmed when a railroad worker found the 18-year-old’s deceased body about a few miles away from the University campus. Upon first glance, investigators noticed that the victim was in a partial state of undress, while it seemed like the killer had used a blunt, heavy object to bludgeon her to death. Later, these findings were confirmed by the autopsy, which determined that Stephanie was abducted and raped before dying from excessive blunt-force trauma to the head.

Who Killed Stephanie Hummer?

The initial investigation into Stephanie’s murder was pretty challenging as the police had no leads or witnesses to work with. Although they carried out a thorough search of the crime scene and even canvased the area around the place where the body was found, the police found no evidence which would lead to an immediate suspect. On top of it, most of Stephanie’s acquaintances insisted that the 18-year-old was new to the city and had no known enemies who would hurt her in such a heinous manner.

During the autopsy, medical investigators found a foreign DNA sample on Stephanie’s body, and the police were convinced that it belonged to the killer. However, the sample did not match any of the entries present in the system, which stalled the investigation for quite some time. On top of it, further inquiry also established that Stephanie was abducted from Pearl Alley, although with no eyewitnesses, the police had no idea how the kidnapper escaped the area. Hence, the case sat without any progress for   17 years until an unrelated incident gave authorities their most significant breakthrough.

In 2004, a man named Jonathan J. Gravely was arrested on the felony charge of failing to pay child support. Since an arrest for a felony requires the suspect to submit DNA details, Jonathan did so, and the police immediately realized that it was a match to the sample found on Stephanie’s body. Hence, without wasting time, the police immediately interrogated Jonathan and got him to confess to the 1994 murder. However, to this day, Jonathan has not explained why he chose to murder Stephanie in such a heinous way on that fateful night.

Jonathan J. Gravely Remains Incarcerated

When produced in court, Jonathan J. Gravely accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to aggravated murder as well as kidnapping. As a part of the deal, the prosecutors dropped the rape charges against him, and he was sentenced to 25 years to life in 2007. Since then, Jonathan has tried to get his sentence overturned but had his latest parole petition denied in April 2023. On the other hand, Stephanie’s family mentioned that they would fight on to keep the teenager’s killer behind bars. Hence, at present, Jonathan remains incarcerated at the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient, Ohio, with a parole eligibility date of 2033.

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