Sunday, September 29, 2002


A look at what happens when no one claims your body.

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - A man executed for raping and killing an 11-year-old girl was buried in a 10-minute service in a downpour Friday at a prison cemetery.

Robert Buell, 62, was the first of the five men executed since Ohio resumed using the death penalty in 1999 whose relatives did not claim his body.

His sister, Carole Bye of Cincinnati, attended the service with her son. She said later that the family could not afford a funeral. She believes Buell was innocent.

"He didn't do it. He didn't do it. He didn't do it," Bye said.

A work detail of inmates carried Buell's casket to the grave site, which starts a new row in Boot Hill, the state prisons cemetery operated by Ross Correctional Institution. Buell's headstone had not yet arrived.

Small marble markers on the other 92 graves bear prisoners' names - not inmate numbers - and dates of birth and death.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said it would spend about $500 on the burial, including a $200 prison-made blue casket and a $50 suit.

Bye said she didn't see her brother for about 10 years after he was convicted of raping and torturing adult women, which he acknowledged to police. She had a hard time forgiving him, but eventually did. She last visited him Sept. 11 on death row at the Mansfield Correctional Institution.

She said she believed Buell's assertions that he didn't harm children.

The prison burial was not upsetting, Bye said.

"It's just his body, not his spirit," she said.

Even though she believed her brother was innocent, Bye said his actions have made her lose some faith in men.

"I'll never get married again and I have no boyfriends."