Indiana man, 59, is sentenced to 650 years in prison for string of sex crimes in the 1980s: Police finally caught ‘sadistic predator’ by matching DNA from his saliva on an envelope to samples from the crime scenes
- Steven Ray Hessler was found guilty of 19 felony counts of sexual assault and burglary on March 3
- He committed the attacks in Greensburg, Indiana, between 1983 and 1985
- Hessler broke into victims’ homes wearing a ski mask to rob them and assault them
- Some told the court they feared he was going to come back to kill them years later
- He was caught after prosecutors used advanced DNA genealogy testing on a sample found at a crime scene
- It matched either Hessler or his brother – police then retrieved a sample from him from a licked envelope
An Indiana man has been sentenced to 650 years in prison for 30-year-old sex crimes which he was convicted of after investigators matched his DNA from a licked envelope to samples found at some of the crime scenes.
Steven Ray Hessler was found guilty of 19 felony charges for crimes against 10 victims between 1982 and 1985, on March 3.
The charges included counts of rape, unlawful deviate conduct, criminal deviate conduct and robbery.
In all of the cases, he broke into the victims’ homes and attacked them then fled. For decades, his crimes went undetected.
Steven Ray Hessler was found guilty of 10 sex crimes on March 3
He avoided punishment for years, even though police had his DNA on file from other crimes.
Prosecutors used an advanced genealogy testing technique on a sample found from one of his crimes.
It led them to him or his brother. Hessler was eventually charged after police intercepted a utility bill in 2020, after he licked the envelope.
Victims testified how he would enter their homes with a balaclava or ski mask on, beat them and rob them in a string of incidents between 1983 and 1985.
He targeted men and women – sexually assaulting any female victims and beating the male victims.
Prosecutors celebrated the sentence this week.
Shelby County Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen said: ‘Steven Ray Hessler is one of the most evil, dangerous, sadistic predators that I’ve had the pleasure of prosecuting in my 30+ year career.
‘He derived great pleasure from his unnecessarily brutal methods of terrorizing and sexually torturing his victims.’
Hesesler targeted men and women – sexually assaulting any female victim and beating the male victims – in a string of attacks in the 1980s
He added: I promised the victims early-on that my goal would be that he go to prison the rest of his life, and all involved are very happy that we have achieved that goal.
‘The victims suffered for so long, and they wondered if someone looked at them in the store, if a car drove by slow, if a car drove by and honked, anything out of the norm.
‘”Is this him? Is he coming to get me? Is he going to follow through with his threats?”
‘They wondered about that.’
Hessler, pictured on Friday, ‘derived great pleasure from his unnecessarily brutal methods of terrorizing and sexually torturing his victims’, prosecutors said
Hessler denied the crimes and his attorney says he plans to file an appeal despite the DNA evidence.
Attorney Bryan L. Cook said in a statement to WRTV: ‘This was one of the most unusual cases probably any defense attorney on the planet could ever encounter for a laundry list of reasons. The facts involved seem more like something out of a movie than real life.
‘It involved 80-100 suspects ranging from Hessler’s cousin (previously indicted for 4 of the attacks), police officers, doctors, pharmacists, and even Michael Kenyon who was the inspiration for Frank Zappa’s song, “The Illinois Enema Bandit”.
‘Several potentially viable suspects were ruled out by DNA although 8 of 10 victims were not DNA cases — which was a central issue in the case. Many physical descriptions by victims of the attacker did not match Hessler’s age, build, weight, eye color, or education.’
Cook added: ‘Several psychics were involved, one parading through a crime scene before police even processed the scene. Potentially critical evidence from some scenes was lost or destroyed over the years.’