No one is quite sure when Eugene Gall of Hillsboro, Ohio started scouring city streets looking for young women and girls to rape, but by most estimates, this disgusting past time of his began in the mid to late 1960s. In 1970, he was 23-years-old and working at Armco Steel in Middletown, Ohio. Gall had a practice of clocking into work, then sneaking out unnoticed to find and rape his next victim (in the counties of Warren and Butler in Ohio), and then returning to work, only to clock out at the end of his shift. Several of these rapes occurred on Friday nights so Gall eventually earned the moniker “Friday Night Rapist.”
In October of 1970, a year before Cheryll’s murder, Gall raped a young woman in Franklin Township, Ohio. As it became clear that he would be indicted for the crime, he agreed to be checked in as a mental patient to The Lima State Hospital and he stayed there for 19 months. Gall was eventually convicted of armed robbery, abduction for immoral purposes, and rape in connection with the October 1970 rape. For these crimes, he was sentenced to 3 to 20 years in the Ohio State Reformatory. Luckily for Gall, but disastrously for others, he was released after only serving 5 years of his sentence. The year was 1977.
The state of Ohio didn’t realize that the convicted rapist they had just released was about to escalate his crimes to a horrific level. Again, it was October–October 20th to be exact– but this time the year was 1977, and 14-year-old Beth Ann Mote was walking to school in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio. Though she was 14, Beth Ann was small in stature, weighing only 75 pounds and standing 4 feet 10 inches tall. As she walked through her neighborhood, heading to her school just a few blocks away, Gall snatched her off of the street and put her in his car. I can only imagine how young Beth Ann was feeling as Gall drove her away from her path to school and from her otherwise safe neighborhood. The two ended up in a wooded area of Miami Township, Ohio where this monster, Gall, raped and then stabbed Beth Ann to death. Hunters found her body seven days later.
Not even a year later, Gall struck again. On April 5, 1978, 12-year-old Lisa Jansen had just started walking to school on Columbia Township Street in Ohio when Eugene Gall encountered her only four doors away from her home. He grabbed her right there on the street and put her into his car. This time, Gall drove his victim, young Lisa, to Boone County in Kentucky where he raped her and then shot her, leaving her body in a ditch on a country road. A woman driving in that area that morning saw some school books on the roadside with Lisa’s name on them. She called the local school saying she had found the books only to be told that there was no student with that name at their school. She phoned the police who eventually realized that the books belonged to a missing girl from the Cincinnati area. As that April day progressed, Lisa’s jacket was found. Then her small purse. Then her body.
Beth Ann Mote’s murder was unsolved and at this point, the police had no suspect in the murder of Lisa Jansen. The police couldn’t yet know that the two murders were connected.
After killing Lisa, Eugene Gall went cruising around Northern Kentucky. He ended up in–of all places–the small country town of Gardnersville, Kentucky. And yes, we’ve discussed this town before. It was the hometown of Cheryll’s paternal grandfather. He’s buried there. Gall robbed a small store at gunpoint and went on the run. When Gall saw a Kentucky State Trooper parked on a road in the county, he shot the officer twice in the chest. Luckily the officer survived, but he was, of course, badly injured. Eventually Gall was apprehended and charged by the state of Kentucky with the murder of Lisa Jansen since the murder occurred in Boone County, Kentucky. Gall pleaded not guilty and the case went to trial in May of 1979. Ten days into the trial, once he realized the amount of evidence the state had against him, Gall abruptly changed his plea to guilty. For his crime, Gall was sentenced to death. He sat on death row in Kentucky from 1979 until the year 2000. In that year (again in October, this time October 30th), the verdict against Gall was overturned on account that the jury never heard medical information about Gall showing that he had a history of severe mental illness and was insane at the time the crime against Lisa was committed. Gall was even able to get the conviction expunged from his record.
By then, the state of Ohio had a case against Eugene Gall for the 1977 rape and stabbing death of Beth Ann Mote, as well as numerous cases against him for rapes of other schoolchildren in the Beavercreek and Dayton areas of Ohio. For those crimes, Gall had already been convicted and upon his release from jail in Kentucky, he was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence of life in prison. He is still in prison today and will have his next parole hearing in 2021.
This story also has many twists and turns and I’ve had to read about it a few different times to understand the timeline. The details of his crimes and confinement are pieced together as best and as concisely as I could possibly explain. But like always, Gall’s story leaves me with questions. How many other crimes did Gall commit that we do not know about? Police officials believe he may have had other victims who never reported his crime against them and therefore those crimes, and others were never attributed to him. The papers have stated that Gall was in a mental health facility in 1971-1972 and then went to the state pen for five years after that. The specific information that I cannot find is when exactly he went to that facility. Was he there in October of 1971? If he indeed was there, was he always there? In 1970, this man was able to clock in and out of work to pluck girls off the street, so can it be proven that he was in the facility the entire day of October 19, 1971? I realize that even if he wasn’t, the chances he was driving in Highland Heights, Kentucky at 6:30 in the morning are very, very slim, but the crime against Cheryll so eerily mirrors Gall’s other crimes, it’s hard to ignore. And also, is it just a very, very uncanny coincidence that Gall ended up in Gardnersville, Kentucky in April of 1978? I’m still flabbergasted that he was there the day he was caught and arrested. And last, knowing that Cheryll had also been kidnapped as she walked to school, stabbed to death, and left in a wooded area in the very county the suspect was apprehended, did any police officials from Kentucky involved with Cheryll’s case, interview Gall or inquire in an official capacity about his whereabouts on October 19, 1971? Was he considered to be or ever ruled out as a suspect?
When my ten-year-old daughter was younger, around 3 and 4 years old, she would tell us things about family members who had passed away years before she was born. We were always fascinated about what she’d say and wondered with curiosity about how she was able to tell us those things. She also spoke sometimes about seeing angels around us which again, left us overwhelmed and interested in what she was tapping into. So, when I received an email from a parent of a young girl living near Rose Avenue, recounting how the child seems to have similar abilities or experiences, I couldn’t help but be astounded and intrigued.
“My daughter is seven now and since we’ve lived in our house she’s seen a shadow figure that appears mostly to her a lot and hasn’t done anything to us except appearing in mirrors and making loud knocking noises around the house. But there’s also another figure who has been hanging around and my daughter says she plays with her. One day, she was naming her toys and she said she was naming one Cheryll and when we asked her why, she said it’s because of her ghosty friend in the house. We asked if Cheryll was her friend’s name and she said it was, but preferred to be called Cheryllee. She said she’s a little girl and she knows this because she’s always wearing a dress when she sees her in the house, but our daughter says she hasn’t seen her ghosty friend’s face because it’s always blurry when she looks. We didn’t think anything of it until we found an old article about Cheryll Spegal going missing from a street close to ours.”
He went on to explain that once he read some of the blog he felt compelled to reach out to let someone know that his family feels that a friendly young female ghostly figure has seemed to have befriended his daughter. The family is uncertain about the dark, shadowy figure he referenced in the beginning of his email. Since the young girl has not said much about that figure, they haven’t pressed the issue, thinking they’ll just leave well enough alone.
Is the spirit of Cheryll still around? Could she have found a child medium with whom to interact as she waits for her story to be fully told? We really have no way of knowing, but the idea intrigues me. Half joking, I asked the writer of the email to have his daughter ask the ghosty girl if there is anything she wants us to know. I was half-serious as well. As of now, I haven’t received an answer to that question, but oh how I wish an answer would come.