Kasich signs bill requiring victim notification of inmate release

In 1974, 15-year-old Roberta Francis was raped, beaten and killed on her way home from school in Columbus.
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 7, 2013


The man who murdered her, Paul Saultz, now 63, was released from prison three times.

Three times more, he attacked girls in similar ways, and was sent back behind bars.

It wasn't until his fourth parole hearing that, by chance, a stranger to Roberta who had come across her story tracked down her family when he learned Saultz could possibly be released — again.

Her family plead with the parole board to keep Saultz behind bars.

And that's where he's been ever since.

A bill Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law last month will keep that from ever happening again. It requires the Ohio Parole Board to notify victims and their representatives when an offender is up for possible release.

Saultz was up for parole again next month, but his hearing has been continued, as has that of Craig Popke, 47, who killed the son of his girlfriend, 3-year-old Michael Wasserman in 1990.

Popke was convicted of a single murder charge for inflicting third-degree burns on Michael's legs with scalding water, then leaving him to die after days of going without treatment. Michale was ultimately killed by dehydration and blood poisoning.

Michael's mother also was convicted in the case for involuntary manslaughter, but was released from prison in 2005.

Michael's father, Stuart, died just before Michael did. He had aunts and uncles and his grandmother and grandfather left to advocate for him. But after his paternal grandmother died, his family fell out of touch with the system.

Made aware of the pending parole hearing by an article in the newspaper, Michael's remaining relatives rallied to make the parole board aware of their protest to Popke's possible release from his life sentence.

"There's still quite a few of us here in town," said Martha Wassermann, one of Michael's aunts. "We will fight for Michael. We are here."

They knew Popke would be up for parole soon. But they didn't know when. And they didn't know what they should do.

Under the old Ohio law, they would have had to know to sign up for notification from the Ohio Parole Board about Popke's possible release.

Under the new legislation, called Roberta's law, the board is required to notify victims of violent crimes or their representatives of scheduled parole hearings for offenders — unless the victim voluntarily opts out of the notification.

In cases where the victim has died, immediate family members must receive the notification as their representative.


Phil Packer

This great new. I just don't want to look at that guy's picture all day...

2cents's picture

Like this guy who murdered someone I know, was let out and went on to play some more! He should have walked the ice a long time ago.




Way past time to outsource our penal system to Mexico and save some $.

2cents's picture

(requiring victim notification of inmate release)

On another thought, let them notify their victims IN PERSON. I know a few Marine buddies that would gladly plan the meeting!


Why the people need the death penalty quickly.


This is a great new law implemented, but what about the fairness of "some" offenders? There are some offenders who have spent over 20 years behind bars for bogus charges. A charge that the victim them self knew was made up between them & the prosecutors. What happens when they are contacted telling them an offender they put behind bars for decades may be released soon. Don't you think it would be unfair for them to decide what happens to someone's life? I agree, all these repeat offenders need to be kept behind bars for committing heinous crimes. But, I'm referring to those crimes which are bogus charges. The named victim will think it's humorous to have that kind of control. At least they did the first time when they went along with the prosecutors...maybe this time around they'll find it in their heart to be honest!


Read post clearly!


If someone remains enough of a threat to others that we have to notify people prior to any release, maybe they shouldn't be considered for release. It's just a thought...