CLEVELAND -- The man known as the West Park Rapist, who received the longest sentence in Ohio history, is dead after committing suicide at the Grafton Correctional Institute on Tuesday.
Ronnie Shelton made national headlines in the 1980's after terrorizing women across Cleveland over a six year span.
He was 30 years into 3,195 year sentence when he jumped from the roof of the prison.
We’re told an ambulance was called at 3:30 p.m., then the 57-year-old was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead just over four hours later.
During his 1989 trial, Shelton said, "None of the girls for who I am responsible for deserved what happened to them."
Shelton was 28 when he was convicted of raping at least 30 women on Cleveland's west side.
One of his victims, Marianne Butler, told the court, "This guy has tormented a lot of women. Has destroyed homes marriages…families."
"I remember seeing him staking out my house 3 days before he raped me. That is not a crazy person,” she continued.
Jim Neff, who published a book in 1994 on the crime spree called Unfinished Murder. The Capture of a Serial Rapist, told us "It was very clear that this was one person because the MO for the crimes was remarkably similar. He said the same things. ‘Don't look at me. Don’t say anything. If you do that you’re gonna get hurt’."
Over a 3 -ear-period, Neff interviewed Shelton, his family, victims and Police. And he poured over thousands of documents.
"He wasn't self aware. He said that he couldn't stop. He said that he had fantasies that took over his mind all the time. Sometimes he would start to cry," Neff told us.
Shelton was ultimately captured on an ATM video after using victims' cards. Victims who Neff hopes can now have closure after 30 years of dying what he calls, ‘a spiritual death’.
It’s something Shelton says he wanted all along.
"My honest to God wish is, that I wish that I wish to be injected with Sodium Pentothal," he told the court.
Ultimately his death came at his own hands, instead of from a lethal injection from the state.
We still don't know how Shelton got to the roof of that prison building. We'll keep investigating and let you know what we learned.
To order Jim Neff’s book, click here.