Columbus police arrest man, say he tortured, smothered Warren native

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COLUMBUS (WKBN) – Police revealed that Warren native Rachael Anderson had been tortured, smothered to death and left in a closet. On Friday, they arrested the man they claim is responsible, saying they tracked him down through help from neighbors, DNA evidence and the victim’s debit card.

Police linked 53-year-old Anthony Pardon to Anderson’s death. He’s being held on $5 million bond.

Six months ago, a letter went out in a Columbus-area neighborhood warning about three registered sex offenders living nearby. Pardon was one of them.

He’s not a stranger to violent crime. In 1982, Pardon pleaded guilty to rape, aggravated robbery and attempted murder. He tried to drown his victim in a creek, but she survived.

Pardon went to prison for 25 years and got out in 2006. Now he is charged with the Rachael Anderson murder — death by asphyxiation.

“We’ve not been able to link him to any other crimes in any other locations, but it is still one of the things we’re looking at,” said Sgt. Stan Latta, with the Columbus Division of Police.

The aspiring funeral director turned 24 on Sunday, January 28. Police say she talked with people Sunday night, then in a window of less than 10 hours, she was killed — but tortured first.

“I don’t think I want to go into exactly what the torture consisted of, but it was a violent death,” Latta said.

Her bank card and car were taken.

“Her credit cards started to be used shortly thereafter. We were made aware of that,” Latta said.

Police found and interviewed the person using the card.

“Between that and some DNA evidence that came back to Mr. Pardon, we were able to conclude with certainty that Anthony James Pardon was responsible for her death,” Latta said.

Video: Police make arrest in murder of aspiring funeral director from Warren

Pardon’s DNA was found in Anderson’s apartment but police say there was no sign someone broke or forced their way inside.

“He has a girlfriend that lives in the neighborhood. She’s not associated with any part of this crime, but it’s within a short walking distance from where Rachel’s apartment is at,” Latta said.

When Anderson didn’t turn up for work Monday morning, a co-worker, police and apartment management went to check on her, but they didn’t find anything. A candle was still burning, so they blew it out and left.

A family friend went by soon after that and looked everywhere. That’s when Anderson’s body was found in the closet.

She was originally from Trumbull County, graduating from Warren G. Harding and attending Youngstown State. She was living in Columbus and was nearing the end of her apprenticeship at the Shaw-Davis Funeral Homes.

According to WKBN’s sister station in Columbus, WCMH, she was also on the verge of becoming the business’ first funeral director who was not from the Shaw family.

“This was a really big deal for our family,” said Amy Shaw, a colleague and friend told WCMH. “We knew Rachael was the one. She was the perfect fit.”

Those with information on the crime are asked to call the Columbus Police Department’s Homicide Unit at 614-645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.

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