On November 26, 1974, fifteen year old Roberta Francis started her usual walk home from school. It was Thanksgiving weekend and her mother’s birthday. But there would be no celebration in Roberta’s family. Roberta never made it home from school that day. In fact, she never made it home at all.
Paul Saultz, the brother of Roberta’s boyfriend noticed Roberta walking towards a wooded area on her walk home from school. Saultz followed Roberta Francis, attacked her, got her to the ground and choked her. Then he raped her in the wooded field. Upon realizing that she was still alive, Saultz picked up a piece to a broken stone birdbath, and as Block Parole explains, “beat Roberta’s face with it until she died.” He covered her with shrubbery and brush and then fled.
Roberta’s brother found her bloody and battered body two days later, but it would take Columbus, Ohio police several months to make an arrest. Finally, in March, 1975, Paul Saultz was arrested and charged with the murder of Roberta Francis. Police found Roberta’s bloody clothing in the possession of Paul Saultz, who, when questioned, admitted that he killed Roberta. He stated “all I wanted was a little.”
Saultz has a long mental health history, yet, when sentenced to life in prison for Roberta’s murder, he requested that he be sent to a regular prison, instead of one for the “criminally insane,” according to Find Missing Kids. Saultz also already had a criminal record for sex-related offenses at the time he committed the rape and murder of fifteen year old Roberta Francis.
When Saultz was sentenced, many people may have assumed that he would be locked away for the rest of his life since he received the life in prison sentence. But that was not to be. Without even notifying Roberta’s family, Paul Saultz was released in 2005 and committed new sex offenses. Her father learned about his release by reading the newspaper! Roberta’s family never got the opportunity to testify before the parole board as to why they believe Saultz should have stayed in prison, or to even write a letter protesting his release because they never knew he was scheduled for a parole hearing, let alone released from prison. After being released, he assaulted several women and was sent back to prison.
Paul Saultz, currently serving his sentence with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, has a hearing scheduled for January 2013. The status of his parole hearing is listed as "continued," but there may be a hearing on any given day that it is decided that he can be brought back before the parole board. Given that Saultz had a prior record for sex offenses before he brutally raped and murdered Roberta and considering that when released in 2005, he again started up his sexual deviancy towards women, he is viewed as a danger to society. Block Parole has a petition which individuals can sign on the site that will be submitted to the Ohio Parole Board when Saultz comes up before them for a parole hearing. Block Parole is well respected in the State of Ohio and the signatures and comments submitted by individuals are taken into consideration when inmates are before the Ohio Parole Board to be considered for parole. Roberta's family may also view the submissions asking that Saultz not be granted parole.
It is for Roberta Francis that “Roberta’s Law” is named. After passing both the House and Senate, Senate Bill 160 was signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich, in the presence of Roberta‘s father. Roberta’s Law requires that crime victims and the families of crime victims be notified when the offender is scheduled for a parole hearing or early release.
The decision of whether to release Paul Saultz will ultimately rest with the Ohio Parole Board. But with Roberta’s Law now in effect, her family will be notified of every parole hearing date and will have the opportunity to be heard by the parole board members. Citizens now have the opportunity, thanks to Block Parole, to have their voices heard at the parole hearing of vicious criminals such as Paul Saultz and others like him.