A grand jury on Wednesday indicted two women on charges of aggravated murder in the gruesome killing of a woman found covered in burns and wailing in agony on the side of a rural road.
If convicted, Katrina Marie Culberson, 20, and Monica Jean Washington, 24, would be eligible for the death penalty.
In addition to the murder charge, the grand jury indicted Culberson and Washington, both of Canton, on felony charges of kidnapping and aggravated arson, Muskingum County prosecutor Mike Haddox told The Associated Press.
The grand jury will consider whether to indict a third suspect arrested in the killing, LaFonse Darney Dixon, next week. Dixon, 33, was arrested on charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson on Tuesday.
It’s unclear whether Culberson, Washington and Dixon yet have attorneys. Culberson and Washington likely will have court appearances on Sept. 12, and Dixon should be in court on Sept. 19.
On Aug. 26, a driver found 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman on a road northeast of Zanesville in eastern Ohio. She had been raped and burned and had a strap around her neck. She died two days later at a Columbus hospital.
A coroner ruled her death a homicide, but the exact cause of death could take more than a month to determine because of severe burns to 80 percent of her body.
Haddox declined to discuss what authorities believe is the motive in the killing and whether there was a ringleader.
“Obviously we want the case to be tried in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion or the media,” he said.
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz has said detectives believed that Fronsman was killed by someone she knew.
He also has called the killing “one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen in 23 1/2 years in law enforcement.”
The man who found Fronsman, who didn’t want to be named to avoid the media spotlight, told the Times Recorder in Zanesville last week that Fronsman threw herself toward his vehicle in a scene that looked like “something out of a horror show.”
He said that Fronsman was pleading for help and comfort and was burned from head to toe, with all her hair gone
“I caught her and picked her up in my arms,” he told the newspaper. “I told her I was going to lay her in the grass and knew then that God had put me there for her.”
Court records show that Fronsman was involved in prostitution and was living a dangerous life before she was killed.
She had been arrested more than 20 times since 2003, mostly for domestic violence, cocaine possession and prostitution.
Fronsman’s family has said the young woman was a good person with a good heart who was devastated by the death of her 2-year-old daughter in 2005 and her mother in 2009.
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