Freeman leads opposition to murderer’s parole

May 05, 2009

Akron City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging the Ohio Parole Board to deny convicted murderer Arkmael Sales' request for release from prison.

Ward 9 Councilman Mike Freeman offered the resolution to see to it that Sales continues serving his life sentence in Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient, Ohio for the 1979 murder of his neighbor, Myrtle Grace Rittenour.

Freeman recalled the tragic incident and the hurt felt by the victim's husband, Arthur, on the night of the murder in September of 1979.

"Thirty years ago I saw no less than a half-dozen police cruisers at the end of our street," Freeman said. "Mr. Arthur Rittenour said to me: 'Mike, somebody's murdered my wife tonight.'"

On Sept. 16 of that year, Sales entered the Rittenour home with the intent to commit burglary, and while inside brutally stabbed to death 66-year-old Grace Rittenour, a mother of five and grandmother of 24.

The following December, Sales was found guilty of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary and sentenced to life in prison. He is scheduled to appear before the parole board June 1 to seek relief from his sentence. Freeman hopes the resolution from Council will persuade the board to deny his request because of the horrific nature of the murder and the effects his crime has had on the Rittenour family.

"We are not talking about forgiveness before God, but a debt someone owes to society," Freeman said. "For the last 29 years, the Rittenour children didn't buy a Mother's Day Card, spend Christmas with Grandma, and the little great-grandchildren didn't have an opportunity to get to know her."

Freeman said the crime was made even more horrific because Sales was on parole at the time, and already had a lengthy criminal record which included armed robberies, thefts, burglaries and assaults on corrections officers.

The resolution will be forwarded to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's office of Victim Services and to the Rittenour family.

In other Council news, Health and Social Service Committee Chair Renee Greene (W-4) assured residents that local health department officials are working diligently to monitor and contain any possible local cases of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.

"Two suspected cases may be present in Summit County," Greene said. "The Akron, Barberton and Summit County Health Departments are keeping close surveillance on the situation, and have provided a link to 24-hour updates."