Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Woman slain, autopsy shows

Alleged attacker faces new charges

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Following an exhumation and second autopsy of a woman found dead in an Oxford Township shed, a Hamilton man now faces stiffer charges that include murder.

        A Butler County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Dustin Hendrix, 29, on four counts: murder, felonious assault, abduction and gross abuse of a corpse. His lawyer, David Kash, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

        The charges against Mr. Hendrix, who was being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond, stem from the Aug. 15 discovery of the body of Patricia Ann Barrett of Hamilton, a 27-year-old mother of five.

        Her death was originally ruled accidental, caused by an overdose of alcohol and cocaine — but Dr. Richard P. Burkhardt, Butler County coroner, plans to change that ruling.

        Dr. Burkhardt participated in a second autopsy on Ms. Barrett last week. “It revealed an additional injury that was missed in the original autopsy,” Dr. Burkhardt said.

        The injury to Ms. Barrett's neck had become more apparent as the tissue decomposed and changed color, Dr. Burkhardt said, adding, “It was consistent with manual strangulation.”

        Butler County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Blankenship praised Dr. Burkhardt's willingness to further investigate, and also lauded his detectives' “persistence and countless hours” of work on the case.

        Police said witnesses saw Ms. Barrett socializing at a Hamilton tavern with a large man whose name they didn't know. Detectives were able to track down Mr. Hendrix because of his size — 6 foot, 6 inches tall, 230 pounds.


        According to a detective's testimony at a hearing in September, Mr. Hendrix gave this account of circumstances surrounding Ms. Barrett's death:

        He gave Ms. Barrett a ride in his car, and she became angry when he asked her for sex. Mr. Hendrix then allegedly wrapped a telephone cord around her face and hit her in the side of the head with his fist. She began to vomit, and when he pulled her back in the car, she appeared to be dead. He panicked and drove around, then put her body in the abandoned shed on Todd Road.

        That description resulted in Mr. Hendrix being charged with offenses that preceded and followed Ms. Barrett's death — but he wasn't charged with slaying her until Tuesday's indictment.

        Ms. Barrett's relatives couldn't be reached for comment.


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- Woman slain, autopsy shows