What happened to Kenneth Roth? Details explored ahead of Evil Lives Here on ID
A convicted felon and former handyman, Kenneth Roth, was convicted in the 2009 killing of 61-year-old Ohio nurse Linda Smith, who was found strangled to death in her Osnaburg Township home during a welfare check.
The accused was linked to the murder using YSTRA DNA found on the victim's underwear. The latter had hired him to help around the house, especially for moving furniture and yard work.
Reports state that Kenneth Roth, who had previously served time for s*xual assault and murder related charges, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2017. He was reportedly serving his sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution when he died of COVID-19 in April 2020.
An upcoming episode of ID's Evil Lives Here is scheduled to revisit Linda Smith's more-than-a-decade old case. The episode, titled Nobody Believed Me, airs on the channel this Sunday, March 26, at 10:00 pm ET, whose synopsis reads as:
"When Matt Roth is just a boy, his stepfather brings him along on handyman jobs; he thinks he is just there to help his dad, but he doesn't realize he is walking into the scenes of brutal murders."
Kenneth Roth was questioned about the deaths of three other women during investigations related to Linda Smith's murder
According to reports, a jury found Kenneth Roth guilty of aggravated murder in the death of 61-year-old Linda Smith, who was found dead in her Osnaburg Township home on December 9, 2009. Prosecutors alleged that the former strangled the nurse with her underwear and mutilated her body.
Kenneth Roth was raised in the East Canton area before moving to Kansas when he was 18 years old. There, in 1968, he and two accomplices robbed and killed a cab driver. After being granted parole by Kansas authorities in 1985, Roth returned to Ohio. During investigations related to Smith's murder, the Stark County Sheriff's Office questioned him about the deaths of three other women between that time and the 61-year-old nurse's killing.
Roth was previously arrested and indicted in the spring of 2016 after investigators found male-specific DNA on Smith's underwear, which defense lawyers claimed wasn't frequently used for criminal convictions. The credibility of the DNA connection to Roth and his location on the night of the murder on December 9, 2009, were the primary concerns at trial.
Dennis Barr, an assistant Stark County prosecutor, said in his opening remarks to the jury on Monday in Stark County Common Pleas Court that DNA testing "broke the case open." Barr alleged that Roth used her undergarments to choke the victim to death. He also claimed that DNA consistent with Roth's was discovered on the underwear (also known as STR DNA focused on the male Y chromosome).
Kenneth Roth was already serving time at fedral prison at the time of his arrest in Linda Smith's cold case
At the time of his arrest, Kenneth Roth was already serving time at the Elkton federal prison, close to Lisbon, completing a two-year term on an unrelated weapons charge. Moreover, in 1969, he was found guilty of murdering and robbing a cab driver in Topeka, Kansas.
Linda Smith was found dead on a bed with her arms positioned behind her back during a welfare check requested by her concerned daughter at her home. She was still dressed in nursing clothes, the pants down around her ankles, her bra cut off the body. A garment was stuffed into her mouth and her underwear was knotted and wrapped around her neck, "causing her to slowly strangle to death."
Investigators asserted that Smith was murdered on December 9 and that her body was found after a family member requested a welfare check since they hadn’t heard from her in more than a day. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation helped the Sheriff's Office reopen the case in 2013 after the investigation came to a standstill.
Evil Lives Here on ID airs this Sunday at 10:00 pm ET.