Murder suspect arrested in Licking County cold case from 1991

Bonita Parker (Courtesy: Ohio Attorney General's Office)

NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) — A suspect in a 25-year-old cold case murder has been arrested, according to the Licking County Sheriff’s Office.

Gustave “Gus” Sapharas, 72, was arrested for the 1991 murder of 21-year-old Bonita Parker, of Columbus. Parker’s body was found on the side of Mill Street Road near State Route 16 in Licking County on Aug. 13, 1991. At the time, authorities were looking at potential suspects but did not have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Sapharas' arrest (Courtesy: Licking County Sheriff's Office)
Sapharas’ arrest (Courtesy: Licking County Sheriff’s Office)

In 2009, evidence in the case was resubmitted to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. BCI identified Sapharas as a DNA contributor, but no other evidence linked him with Parker’s murder.

In late 2015, Detective Shenan Day with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office began working with BCI. Together, they were able to build evidence of Sapharas’ involvement in the murder. According to the Licking County Sheriff’s Office, Det. Day and Lt. Brock Harmon interviewed Sapharas in March 2016, but officers say the suspect lied during the interview.

The sheriff’s office says Sapharas admitted his dishonesty during questioning about Parker’s murder. Officers obtained an arrest warrant and searched the suspect’s apartment on the 4100 block of Independence Circle in North Canton, Ohio.

Sapharas is currently being held in the Stark County Jail until he can be extradited to Licking County. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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