Prosecutor says Ohio truck driver is a ‘serial killer’
CLEVELAND — Five bodies, four crime scenes. They add up to what Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty calls one “serial killer.”
And that may just be the beginning.
“So far, we know (Robert Rembert) purposefully executed five people,” McGinty said in a press release. “An investigation of his activities as an over-the-road truck driver is currently underway.”
As of now Rembert has only been convicted in one of those deaths, having spent six years in an Ohio prison for voluntary manslaughter for the 1997 killing of Dadren Lewis in a Cleveland, Ohio, parking lot.
Yet authorities allege that Rembert didn’t stop there.
To this point, a grand jury indicted him Tuesday on 25 more counts — tied to four people, three of them this year. He now faces 10 counts of aggravated murder, six of kidnapping, four of rape, two of aggravated robbery and one each of having weapons under disability, grand theft and gross abuse of a corpse.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office spokesman Joe Frolik did not know Wednesday if Rembert had a lawyer. That could be clarified Friday morning when Rembert is arraigned on the new charges.
Until then, he’s being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail.
Rembert’s arrest follows the discovery of 31-year-old Kimberly Hall’s body on June 10 near an open field in Cleveland. Hall had been beaten, raped and ultimately strangled, according to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.
DNA from her body allegedly led authorities to Rembert. The other tell-tale clue was the fact that the last calls made and received on Hall’s cell phone traced back to Rembert, McGinty’s office said.
Ten days later, 26-year-old Morgan Nietzel and 52-year-old Jerry Rembert (the suspect’s cousin) were found shot dead in the Cleveland home they shared with Robert Rembert.
Authorities caught up with Robert Rembert — who’d allegedly taken off in Nietzel’s red Saturn Vue — the next day coming out of the shower at a Pilot Flying J truck stop in Seville, about 40 miles southwest of Cleveland.
Frolik, from the prosecutor’s office, said authorities in the area had been looking for that car. Once taken into custody on an arrest warrant tied to Hall’s death, Rembert was held on $1 million bond while the grand jury looked at other cases.
That included the violent death of a woman dating back eight years.
Her name was Rena May Payne, whose body was discovered strangled and beaten on May 15, 1997, in a Cleveland-area Regional Transit Authority employee restroom at a bus turnaround. That bathroom can only be opened using a code known to RTA workers — which Robert Rembert was at the time.
McGinty’s office said DNA from Payne has been matched to Rembert, who is charged with two counts each of aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping in that case alone, according to the grand jury indictment.
Authorities don’t know if they’ll find more victims, though they are looking.
“It’s fair to expect there will be a fresh look at any cold cases where there are similar fact patterns,” Frolik said.