According to court documents James Goff had delivered furniture to eighty eight year old Myrtle Rutledge and he would later return to the home and would break in and murder the elderly woman
James Goff would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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James Goff Now
Chillicothe Correctional Institution
James Goff Case
[Myrtle] Rutledge, an eighty-eight-year-old woman, was in the process of moving out of her old farmhouse and into a new doublewide trailer home that was built directly behind the farmhouse. Her daughter, Esther Crownover, had been helping her sort out items from the old house, in which she had lived for forty-seven years.
Rutledge decided to purchase some new furniture for her new house, and on September 14, 1994, she and Crownover went to Butler Home Furnishings in Wilmington, Ohio. After purchasing a new mattress, box springs, chair, ottoman, and sofa, Rutledge made arrangements for the furniture to be delivered the next day.
Butler Home Furnishings had employed appellant for furniture deliveries for about a year. Harold E. Butler, Jr., the son of the owner, would contact appellant when he had a delivery and then, depending on the item, would get another person to assist appellant with the delivery. Butler Furnishings had also used Manuel Jackson as a delivery person for the seven months prior to September 1994.
Appellant and Jackson were contacted to make the delivery to Rutledge on September 15, 1994. When appellant and Jackson arrived with the furniture, Rutledge directed them to put the new furniture in the new house. Since there was no bed frame in the new house, appellant asked whether Rutledge wanted them to obtain the frame from the old house and assemble the bed in the new house. After they indicated that they would not charge Rutledge any additional money for this service, Rutledge took them into the old house, up to the second floor, and pointed out the bed frame that was to be used with the new bedding. The old house was in a state of disarray from the ongoing moving process. Jackson thought he saw appellant “snooping” through Rutledge’s belongings.
Appellant and Jackson disassembled the old bed, took the frame to the new house, and set up the new bed. While Jackson finished the assembly, appellant obtained Rutledge’s signature on the delivery form.
Later that afternoon, Rodney Rutledge, the victim’s son, arrived at his mother’s house around 4:00 p.m. to mow the lawn. She showed him her new furnishings that had been delivered that day. When he left (around 5:30 p.m.), his mother’s car was parked in the driveway next to the house.
On the night of September 15, Myrtle Rutledge spoke on the telephone to her sister (6:30-7:00 p.m.) and her sister-in-law (around 9:00 p.m.) concerning the upcoming family reunion on Saturday, September 17. On Friday, September 16, 1994, Rutledge’s son drove past his mother’s house six different times during the course of his employment. Each time his mother’s car was not parked in the driveway next to the house. Rutledge’s sister also drove past the house and noticed the car was not there.
On Saturday morning, Crownover went to Rutledge’s home to pick her up for the reunion. The car was not there, and when her mother did not answer the door, Crownover assumed that she had already left for the reunion. When she arrived at the reunion her mother was not there. She went back to her mother’s house, entered, and went upstairs to her mother’s bedroom. There she found her mother’s battered and naked body lying on the floor of the bedroom. A pool of blood was on the bed, as well as the floor area. After ascertaining that there was no pulse, she tried using the phone to call the police, but there was no dial tone. She covered her mother with a blanket and drove to the police station.
The police and an ambulance were dispatched. Once it was determined that Rutledge was dead, the police secured the scene and began a criminal investigation. Deputy Sheriff Fred W. Moeller, the crime scene investigator, determined that the door to the victim’s house had been forced open. Someone had apparently tried to enter the home through a window, because the window screen was lying on the ground outside the house, but entry was not made though the window. The phone wires on the outside of the house were cut.
No fingerprints were found in the bedroom. In Moeller’s opinion, the room had been cleaned. Other fingerprint smudges were found in the house, but never matched. There was no evidence of blood anywhere else in the house except the bedroom. Denise K. Rankin, a serologist, identified a pubic hair found at the scene as being consistent with a pubic hair obtained from appellant after his arrest.
After Moeller left the scene to return to the police station, he was notified that the victim’s car was found on North High Street in the city of Wilmington. He went to the scene, and the keys to the car were found on the floor on the driver’s side. A pink towel was on the front seat of the car, and no prints were found anywhere on the car. Moeller believed that someone had wiped down the car.
The deputy coroner testified that Rutledge died from blunt and sharp trauma to the head, neck, shoulders, and ankle. Her death also resulted from blood loss due to multiple stab wounds, one of which severed the carotid artery. The coroner was unable to determine the time of death.
When appellant and Jackson left Rutledge’s house after delivering the furniture on September 15, they purchased some crack cocaine and went to appellant’s house to smoke it. Appellant later returned the truck to the furniture store.
Jackson did not see appellant again until 1:00-1:30 a.m. the following morning when he saw him running through an alley. Jackson later saw him on Grant Street. Appellant had changed his clothes from earlier in the day when they had delivered the furniture.
Appellant asked Jackson whether he wanted to smoke some crack, showing him what Jackson thought was about $80 worth of crack. Jackson was with Tim Bart, and all three proceeded to appellant’s house. After they smoked the crack, which took a couple of hours, Bart suggested stealing some meat to trade for more crack. They were going to walk to the store, when appellant indicated he knew where there was a car they could use, but it was stolen. Appellant said the car was on North High Street. Bart and Jackson opted not to use the stolen car, and they walked to Bob and Carl’s Meat Store. Bart stole the meat, and he and appellant “took off.”
Jackson saw appellant around noon the next day, and appellant asked him to tell anyone who asked, that he (appellant) had been with Jackson from 9:00 p.m. on September 15 until 3:00 a.m. on September 16.
Later, on September 17, Timothy Shaffer found appellant playing pool at a game room in Wilmington. Appellant, Shaffer, and David Walls ended up at Shaffer’s trailer, where they smoked three to four “joints.” All three left the trailer and went to buy some crack. After the purchase, Shaffer and appellant went to appellant’s house to smoke the crack. Appellant wanted Shaffer to sign a note saying that he (Shaffer) helped in a crime committed on September 15, but Shaffer refused to sign. Appellant went and stayed at Shaffer’s trailer until September 21.
While staying with Shaffer, appellant talked with him about Rutledge’s death. Appellant asked Shaffer what he would do if he killed someone. Appellant then told him he stabbed a lady and bent the blade of the knife. He also choked her. Appellant then told Shaffer he took her car and left it in front of the Mulberry Hill Apartments. After wiping the steering wheel, he drove the car to North High Street, where he left it, and then bought about $90 worth of crack and smoked it. Appellant admitted that he went to Rutledge’s house to rob her.
On September 21, Shaffer saw a newspaper article about the Rutledge murder and asked appellant to leave his trailer. About two weeks later, Shaffer received a letter from appellant telling him that his (appellant’s) life was in Shaffer’s hands and to not tell anyone. Shaffer eventually called Colonel Tim Smith at the sheriff’s department, and turned over a pair of tennis shoes and a laundry basket belonging to appellant. Shaffer ultimately told Smith all of what appellant had said about the murder.
Appellant was arrested on September 21, 1994 on a drug charge. During the interrogation, appellant admitted that he had a crack habit, that he bought crack whenever he could, and that he would steal and trade items to buy crack. He indicated that he delivered furniture to the Rutledge residence, but when questioned about the murder, appellant asked for an attorney and questioning ceased.
The state also presented three inmates, Jerry Lee Price, Danny Smith, and Keith Jones, to testify to various statements appellant had made to them regarding the Rutledge crime while incarcerated on the drug charge. Smith’s testimony was excluded, since he failed to identify appellant in court; however, both Price and Jones testified regarding the murder.
Jones’s testimony was by far the most damaging. Appellant told Jones that he had delivered furniture to an old lady in her late 80’s. She had given appellant some money when he put the new bed together and later that night he went back to get the rest of the money he saw she had. Appellant entered through the kitchen and found Rutledge in the bedroom. Appellant told him that Rutledge called him “Jimmy,” so he “had to get rid of the bitch.” Jones asked him questions concerning the crime because Jones could not believe appellant could do such a thing to an old woman. Appellant asserted that she had lived her life, and since she could send him to prison, he had to kill her. After he took the money and the car, he went and bought crack. Appellant ran into a friend and they went and smoked it. Appellant said he killed her by himself, using a fishing tackle knife from his house. He told Jones they would never find the knife because he got rid of it. Jones wrote a letter to the prosecutor’s office, although he was not sure he believed appellant, but that he (Jones) had an elderly mother and could not think of something like that happening to her.