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Former Wyoming Resident Who Killed Mother Of Matthew Shepard Murderer Charged With Child Rape In Ohio

Courtesy, Canton (Ohio) Repository
Courtesy, Canton (Ohio) Repository

The man who killed the mother of a murderer of Matthew Shepard in Laramie in 1998 is now charged with raping a 9-year-old girl in Ohio.

Dennis Leroy Menefee Jr., was sentenced to a four- to seven-year term in the Wyoming State Penitentiary after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Cindy Lee Dixon in 1999.

It is not known where Menefee, 45, traveled after his prison term, but he eventually landed in Port Washington, Ohio, which is about 40 miles south of Canton, Ohio.

On Monday, he allegedly was in Massillon, Ohio, where he told a nine-year-old girl walking home from a library that he was a police officer and she had been reported missing, according to news reports in the Canton Repository and related GateHouse Media newspapers.

He lured her into his truck, drove her to a nearby parking lot, raped her, beat her and threatened before she was released.

She was able to make her way back home, told her parents what happened, and was hospitalized for her injuries.

She was able to identify the truck. Photos put on social media posts helped people identify the truck, and Menefee was arrested Wednesday while doing flagging work on a construction site.

News reports in Ohio tracked Menefee’s criminal history, and some media criticized the Wyoming justice system for the four- to seven-year prison sentence he received for the killing of Dixon.

Menefee picked up Dixon in Laramie, raped her and pushed her out of his vehicle. Her body was found on a snow-covered rural road about eight miles north of Laramie on Jan. 3, 1999. An autopsy determined she died of hypothermia.

That was less than three months after her son, Russell Henderson, was arrested for the murder of gay University of Wyoming student and Casper native Matthew Shepard.

Henderson and Aaron McKinney picked up Shepard at a Laramie bar on Oct. 7, 1998, drove him out of town, pistol-whipped him and tied him to a fence. He died at a Fort Collins, Colo., hospital later that week.

The murder drew international outrage and lead to an increased focus on and advocacy about gay rights.

Henderson and McKinney are serving life prison sentences.

Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent did not return a phone call seeking comment about the 17-year-old Menefee case.

Meanwhile in Ohio, Menefee is initially charged with felony counts of kidnapping and rape, and misdemeanor counts of assault and aggravated menacing, according to the Canton Repository.

Today, a judge in Massillon, Ohio, Municipal Court set his bond at $2 million during his initial appearance.

If Menefee he is convicted of raping a person under 13, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

He also could face up to 11 years on the kidnapping charge, and another 10 years for being a repeat violent offender.

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