Ohio Woman Was Found Raped, Murdered the Day After 24th Birthday — and Killer Is Convicted

Greg Hanlon

An Ohio man was convicted Thursday of raping and murdering a woman in her Columbus apartment in 2018, PEOPLE confirms.

A press release from the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office states Anthony Pardon, 55, was convicted on charges of kidnapping, rape, aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in the death of Rachael Nicoletta Anderson, 24.

A previous press release said Anderson was an aspiring funeral director who was an apprentice at a funeral home. Authorities found her body inside her bedroom closet on Jan. 29, 2018, after her coworkers, who were concerned she hadn’t shown up to work or called, contacted police.

The Columbus Dispatch, citing trial testimony, reports she had been hogtied, strangled with a cord and stabbed in the neck.

Trial testimony showed Pardon’s DNA was found on swabs taken during a sexual assault examination of Anderson, as well as on her thigh and wrist, the The Dispatch reports.

The paper reports Anderson’s mother cried in court as the verdicts were read aloud.

WKBN reports the killer used Anderson’s debit card multiple times after murdering her.

Pardon had previously been convicted in 1982 of rape, attempted murder and aggravated robbery, prosecutors said in a press release.

WKBN reports that during the trial, Franklin County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Amy Van Culin said, “He kills her after and … he trespasses in her own home, her place of safety, the place where she sleeps, the place where she eats, the place where she comes home to relax — her own home, ladies and gentlemen.”

Anthony Pardon | Chicago Police Department

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Larry Thomas, who represented Pardon, said during the trial, “There’s no direct evidence in this case that Anthony Pardon did anything other than use some credit cards.”

PEOPLE’s call to Thomas was not immediately returned on Friday.

According to the prosecutor’s press release, the trial now moves to the death penalty phase, which will begin Tuesday, Feb. 18.