Update: PAROLE GRANTED. Shawn Keffer,
the murderer of Brian Dennis, was parole in May 2005 despite our
was taken off all supervision in May 2010.
in 1980, Brian Dennis' legacy lives on.
Brian Dennis wanted to
make a difference. He wanted to make the world a better, safer place.
In 1978, at the age of 18, he decided to follow his brother Paul's
footsteps and joined the army. The first time Brian came home he
adorned his uniform to make his mother proud. One day he hoped to
come home a hero. Instead Brian was given an honorable discharge.
He was too weak and small and the army wanted him to come back when
he was older. Brian Dennis would never get the chance. On the night
of April 11th, 1980, Shawn Keffer, who had bullied Brian Dennis since
the third grade, was determined to bully Brian for the last time.
Prior to a party both he and Brian were attending, Keffer hid a shotgun
and a knife under the patio of the house where the party was to take
place. Later that night those weapons would be used to commit one
of the most brutal crimes in Columbus, Ohio's history.
A Brutal Murder
Keffer did not wait long to make his initial
attempt to kill Brian. He attacked Brian during the party, and tried
to throw him off a fire escape. Fortunately, Brian's friend pulled
Keffer off before he could plunge Brian to his death. Keffer,would
not be deterred from his evil mission. When Brian left the party,
Keffer told several people he was going to "Cut Brian's heart
out". No one believed he was serious. Keffer followed Brian
into an alley. Then he stabbed the small, meek 19-year old 72 times.
He also threw a concrete slab on Brian's face. Brian was still breathing
so Keffer then put a shotgun to Brian's head and fired it at point
blank range literally blowing half Brian's face off.
When Keffer came back to the party covered
in blood, they knew they should have listened to him. Keffer calmly
walked to the attic, changed his clothes, hid the bloody clothes,
and went back to the party. When Brian's friends went to look for
Brian, it was too late. They found what was left of Brian's body
in a trash bag. A Saint Bernard was eating Brian's brain.
At the time of Brian's murder Keffer was
on shock parole for attempted drug trafficking and robbery. He had
served only three years of a possible ten-year sentence. He killed
Brian just months after his release from prison. Although he refused
to admit the crime the evidence was overwhelming. Keffer was found
guilty by jury of aggravated murder, the most serious of all murder
charges. He escaped the death penalty only because there was no death
penalty in Ohio at the time of the crime. Keffer was so proud of
what he had done he hid Brian's autopsy photos in his prison cell
to admire until the Ohio Department of Corrections confiscated them.
Years later Keffer openly admitted his crime on a local TV program
about drugs. During the interview he confessed to all he had done
to Brian and showed no emotion as he described his brutal acts. The
jury's aggravated murder conviction years earlier, which resulted
in the life sentence, was undoubtedly the correct decision.
Brian's mother fought several times and successfully
kept brutal murderer Shawn Keffer behind bars. In March 2005 something
was different. Brian's mother died in January 2004 and was no longer
able to fight for Brian. This was a huge break for Keffer and he
knew it. According to an anonymous letter sent to a local reporter
the day Brian's mother died Keffer had a party in the commons area
and was high fiving all the inmates. He believed this was the final
obstacle to his release. He was correct.
Despite a valiant fight by Brian Dennis'
sister, an opposition letter from Franklin County Prosecutor Ron
O' Brien, and letters of protest from eight Ohio Senators, members
the Ohio House of Representatives, law enforcement, and citizens
across the United States, Shawn Keffer was released on parole on
May 11th, 2005. The letter to notify Brian's family of Keffer's release
date as well as the details of his parole was never received by the
family. The media informed them of the details. Since Keffer's parole
we have received several reports of Keffer violating his parole.
We also have received highly confidential Franklin County documents
corroborating this information. All calls to the department of corrections
and Keffer's parole officer have been ignored. In May 2010 Keffer
comes off all parole supervision.
Brian Dennis' was our first major case. It
also was one of only two cases we have lost in the last six years.
It was the turning point for our organization. We turned our anger
and frustration into a force for positive change. Shortly after Brian's
murderer was paroled we successfully passed Laura's Law in Ohio.
Both the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate unanimously
passed the bill. Brian's family was there with us when former Ohio
Governor Bob Taft signed the bill into law. We continue to work on
getting this law passed nationally. In 2008 we successfully drafted
and introduced Roberta's Law into the Ohio Legislature. This law
would eliminate the secrecy of the Ohio Parole Board and would force
them to be accountable for their decisions. We will continue our
effort to get this bill passed. In 2009 we launched Blockparole.com
which allows the public to easily voice their opposition to the paroles
of dangerous inmates. Most importantly we have assisted in blocking
the paroles of well over two-dozen violent offenders. This includes
several child killers, child rapists and cop killers all who likely
would have raped and killed again. It took 25 years however in the
end Brian Dennis became exactly what he wanted to be all those years
ago. A hero.
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