For decades, police in Shelby County, Indiana could not identify the man who broke into homes at night armed with a knife or gun, woke his victims, then tied them up and sexually tortured them. He often disguised himself in a bulky coat and covered his face with a ski mask or leggings.
Then, in 2020, 35 years after his last known assault in the county, investigators were finally able to identify the attacker as Steven Ray Hessler and arrest him. The breakthrough came, prosecutors said, when DNA extracted from the envelope of a water bill Mr Hessler had licked matched DNA that had been left at the scene of his last known crime. in the county on August 17, 1985.
On Friday, Mr. Hessler, 59, was sentenced to 650 years in prison. The sentence came a month after a jury found Mr Hessler guilty of two counts of rape, six counts of unlawful deviant conduct, seven counts of burglary causing bodily harm, three counts of felony deviant conduct and a skilled flight leader.
James B. Landwerlen, the Shelby County District Attorney, southeast of Indianapolis, said that from August 14, 1982 to August 17, 1985, Mr. Hessler brutally assaulted 10 victims: seven women, a 16-year-old girl , and two men, including a former Marine whom he had handcuffed, bound and beaten with a gun, leaving him in a coma for months.