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Ruble’s death ends dramatic case

1981 crime followed by 2016 conviction

Those who investigated the murder of Washington County deputy Lt. Ray “Joe” Clark said Monday they are relieved Clark’s family got to see a conviction in the case before the killer’s death of natural causes over the weekend.

Mitchell Ruble, 66, of Lowell, also a former deputy, was convicted last April of shooting Clark at his Dodd’s Run Road home in 1981. He died at the Idaho Correctional Institute in Boise in his sleep, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

“We did our job and convicted Ruble while we could,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Major Brian Schuck. “Justice was served for both sides of the case.”

Washington County Sheriff’s Det. Lt. Jeff Seevers said he also felt relief that Ruble was convicted and sentenced.

“We were able to solve the case and bring some relief to the Clark family while we could,” said Seevers. “The families of both sides are who deserved the justice all these years later and we are all very satisfied with the conviction.”

Seevers said his thoughts were also with Ruble’s family.

“Death, no matter what, is never a thing to celebrate,” he said. “Regardless of the situation, our thoughts all go out to Ruble’s family.”

Seevers was part of the formation of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office cold case unit in 2011. He, along with others, worked on the case for roughly three years.

“We invested about a year before the trial even began,” said Seevers. “We even continued to do more after he was indicted, finding what we believe was the murder weapon after the fact.”

During the investigation, authorities said Ruble shot Clark because Clark had previously played a part in dismissing him from the department.

Penny Howard, 62, of Sistersville, W.Va., was one of the people who testified against Ruble last year. She knew both the victim and killer and said she said she still lives with the guilt that this all could have been avoided.

“Joe gave his heart to everything he would do,” said Howard. “He taught me everything. When I was raped five years after he’d died, I remembered things he’d taught me and that’s why I’m alive today.”

Howard said the night that Clark died, she’d been with Ruble earlier and feels that if she stayed with him instead of going home to her husband, it might have prevented the murder.

“I’ve had to live with that my entire life knowing I could have prevented this,” she said. “I’m numb and have no feeling of Mitch’s death. He’d taken up so much of my life with his evil that it hasn’t really sunk in. The ramifications are going to go on for years for Joe’s family and for Mitch’s family.”

As tears filled her eyes Monday, Howard said she will no longer have to live in fear.

“I had to live in fear my entire life,” she said. “I was worried he was going to come for me since I didn’t want to be with him. I’m glad the truth came out.”

According to the Facebook page of Ruble’s daughter, the family is having his body sent home and cremated. They’ve also decided on having a private autopsy done to Ruble’s body since they’re unsure exactly how he died. Ruble was serving his 15 years-to-life sentence at an out-of-state facility due to his time as a correctional officer in Ohio.

No one in Clark’s family could be reached for comment Monday.

At a glance

¯ Mitchell Ruble, 66, of Lowell, was sentenced last year to 15 years to life in prison for the murder of Lt. Ray “Joe” Clark in 1981.

¯ He was found guilty of aggravated murder in April 2016.

¯ He died while serving his time in the Idaho Correctional Institute in Boise, Idaho.

¯ The cause of death is of natural causes as he died in his sleep.

Source: Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

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