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Man convicted in murder of Harding grad Rachael Anderson

Jury expected to consider death penalty next week

COLUMBUS — A Franklin County jury on Thursday convicted Anthony Pardon of the aggravated murder of Warren native Rachael Anderson.

Anderson, 24, was found dead by Columbus police Jan. 29, 2018, inside a closet of her apartment on Allegheny Avenue after friends and coworkers at Shaw-Davis Funeral Homes called police to report she didn’t come to work, and they could not reach her by phone. She was tortured before she was killed, prosecutors said.

Pardon, 55, was tried on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and rape. The nine-count trial began Feb. 4 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court before Judge Stephen L. McIntosh.

Prosecutors cited DNA evidence on appliance cords used to tie the victim and on her bound and gagged body, which authorities said was found in a bedroom closet of her apartment. An autopsy concluded she had been strangled and stabbed in the back of the neck.

Anderson was a 2012 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School, where she was in the National Honor Society and enjoyed playing soccer and volleyball, and was in the band. While still in high school, she worked at Macali’s Giant Eagle.

She studied at Youngstown State University before transferring to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, where she earned her Bachelor of Mortuary Science degree in 2016.

“Rachael will always be remembered and loved by her family and friends for her uniqueness, hard work, loving kindness, joy and infectious laughter. She had the ability to make a lasting impression on everyone she came in contact with and she could light up a room with her smile,” her obituary states.

She is buried in Pineview Memorial Park, Warren.

Defense attorney Larry Thomas argued that the prosecution’s case was based on “speculation” and dismissed DNA and cellphone evidence as inexact and not providing conclusive proof. Thomas conceded that surveillance video and cellphone evidence showed Pardon using the victim’s stolen credit cards.

Pardon is eligible for the death penalty. The jury is expected to convene again 9 a.m. Tuesday to consider that.

He wore a black pullover, glasses and his hands were restrained with yellow zip ties in the courtroom. There was gray stubble on his face. He looked down or straight ahead while the judge read the verdicts.

An NBC4i.com livestream video showed members of Anderson’s family on a bench in the courtroom, quietly holding hands and wiping tears.

Pardon previously spent 24 years in prison after a 1982 conviction for aggravated robbery, attempted murder, aggravated assault and rape, according to court records. The current charges against Pardon include repeat violent offender specifications on all charges and a sexually violent predator specification on the one count of rape.

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