Area’s most notorious criminal, Stanley Penn, had been incarcerated since 1983
The convicted killer of Union County Sheriff Harry Wolfe is dead.
According to Deputy Tom Morgan of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Stanley Penn died Sunday. He was 70 years old.
Morgan said the Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitations and Correction (ODRC) Monday and made aware of Penn’s death.
He said ODRC representatives did not share the cause of death, but said he died at Franklin Medical Center, an ODRC facility in Columbus.
After pleading guilty to the murder in 1983, Penn was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison.
While Paula Wolfe, the murdered sheriff’s widow, advocated against the death penalty because of her religious beliefs, law enforcement officials pushed for the harshest sentence otherwise.
“Stanley Penn is obviously a very disturbed individual with no regard for human life or the basic values to live a productive life in our society,” Morgan wrote in a letter opposing the possibility of parole.
“I think that perhaps no amount of time in prison would rehabilitate the man who committed this crime.”
Penn spent a total of 37 years in prison for the murder.
On Jan. 21, 1982, Sheriff Wolfe went to a home on Robinson Road in Jerome Township to investigate a burglary alarm.
Wolfe had taken a prisoner to Columbus and was returning to Marysville when he heard the call about the break-in on Robinson Road. The sheriff did not radio to let anyone know he was headed to the scene, but witnesses saw him speed off toward the area.
When deputies arrived at the scene, they found the sheriff dead, shot multiple times.
Chet DeLong, a former detective with the Columbus Division of Police, investigated the murder.
He said Wolfe ran a license plate number when he got to the scene. An audio recording from the security alarm revealed that Wolfe told someone to come to him. The command was followed by a brief scuffle and a thud, then several shots in succession.
Although there is speculation as to what may have happened that night, DeLong said “there is no way we will ever know” because Penn didn’t often talk about the murder and gave conflicting reports when he did.
According to the ODRC, at the time the sheriff was killed, Penn was on probation. He was released from prison in November 1980 after serving a penitentiary sentence for an attempted aggravated burglary conviction in Cuyahoga County.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said Penn had “a long history of criminal behavior.”
He has said he believes Penn “represents pure evil.”
Following his conviction, Penn remained incarcerated, despite several parole hearings.
Penn’s first request for release, in February 2008, was met with an outpouring of public and law enforcement input.
His request was denied.
Nearly a decade later, his December 2017 parole hearing was met with a similar response and rejected.
Family members and law enforcement officials said the community continues to grieve Wolfe’s death and will never fully recover from the loss.
“Words cannot explain the devastation caused by Stanley Penn to the Wolfe family, the Sheriff’s Office and the Union County community,” Sheriff Jamie Patton said prior to Penn’s second hearing.
“The loss of Sheriff Wolfe has never been forgotten and it never will be.”
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