The deadliest mass shooting at a private residence in U.S. History
Easter Sunday March 30th 1975: A day ordinarily set aside for bunnies, bonnets, and baskets. Instead, the holiest of Christian days, became an unadulterated day of evil.
A particularly garish nightmare, orchestrated by the most cowardly of cowards James Urban Ruppert. “Uncle Jimmy” gunned down in a period of 10 minutes, 11 members of his family at the house of his mother on Minor Avenue in Hamilton Ohio.
His mother, brother, sister-in-law, and his 8 nieces and nephews ranging in age from 4 to 17 had their lives snuffed out that day. For me, the death of the 4-year-old hits me the hardest: County Prosecutor John Holcomb described the little boys lifeless body holding a half unwrapped chocolate Easter Egg in his hand. Holcomb remarked, that years later he couldn’t get that vision out of his head.
Ruppert ( 1934- ) is now 81 years old, and is housed in Lima Ohio, at the Allen Correctional Institute. Because at the time of the murders, the death penalty was not in effect in Ohio, Ruppert was ineligible for that penalty.
I can not think of Easter Sunday without thinking about this horrific nightmare, it was one of the most memorable events of my early childhood, being in the local news daily as it was. 40 years have not lessened the effects of those visions, or the creepiness of that house.
Every now and then, when I happen to drive down Pleasant Avenue and come to that infamous street, I don’t even look over at that house that can be seen from the street, as it sends shivers up my spine. I wonder if there are any people living near the house that don’t know about the tragedy?
Imagine living in the house where 11 people were murdered?
God bless this young lady living in the Ruppert house, I know I couldn’t step foot in there. Perhaps it’s fitting though, that we stare evil in the face and deny its claim over us? I always thought it strange that they didn’t raise the house after the tragedy.
Motive for the massacre?
Reportedly Ruppert snapped because his mother was always combing his hair and treating him like a baby. According to Ruppert, she made him out to be a homosexual. I suppose in Ruppert’s depraved mind, that was the greatest slap in the face; of course being known as a blood thirsty killer of men, woman, and children didn’t seem to set off his moral sensibilities?
Ruppert decided apparently that he was getting the short end of the stick in his life, his mother and brother were out to get him, he suspected he wouldn’t get as large a piece of the life insurance pie when his mother died.
I have also wondered: When Ruppert woke up March 30th at 4:00 PM, after sleeping off his birthday party drunk binge the night before, did he intend on only killing the mother that morning? Did he know his brother Leonard and his family were there visiting?
I believe it likely that with so many kids below where he had been sleeping all day, they would have made enough noise to be heard, and surely when he came down the stairs he would have known more than his mother await.
Archival news footage from Channel 9 out of Cincinnati Ohio.
My childhood memories of the tragedy
The Ruppert Murders were something I remember vividly, it was talked about for years throughout the rest of the 70’s. I remember this massacre and the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire disaster to be huge topics of conversation at the time.
Though I was only 3 years old when these slayings occurred, I remember over hearing my parents talking about this nut all the time. With all the trial motions, appeals, and then parole hearings, it was always in the local news.
Even though the case was in the news locally, it wasn’t nationally. Considering it was Easter Sunday and the many children involved, I can’t think of a more gut wrenching murder case. I am surprised so many don’t know about the case.
Just after the 40th anniversary of Ruppert’s crime is marked, he will once again be granted a parole hearing. Personally I’m not worried too much… I couldn’t imagine any possibility this man would be released from prison? But you know politicians and bureaucrats, they can do some pretty strange things, so stay tuned…
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Jason Sositko, a freelance writer and entrepreneur is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I also use services such as Viglink and Skimlinks to earn income via links placed inside articles.