In 1988 the dead body of 4-year-old Barbara Jean Horn was found in a television box in her neighborhood in Pennsylvania. In 1992 Barbara’s neighbor, Walter Ogrod, was arrested for her sexual assault and subsequent murder. On June 5, 2020, after 28 years in prison and 23 years on death row, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office acquitted Ogrod of all charges after DNA testing proved his innocence.Barbara’s mother openly supported overturning his conviction, sickened by the fact that her daughter's murderer has been free these last 32 years as an innocent man suffered for their crime.
On July 12, 1988, 4-year-old Barbara Jean Horn vanished while she was playing in her front yard in Philadelphia. Her father, John, discovered she was missing when he went outside to check on her. He searched the neighborhood high and low to no avail when he decided to call the police and begin an official search. Two hours after she went missing, Barbara was found two blocks from her home in a cardboard television box placed inside a trash can. Her body showed signs of sexual assault and she had evidently been bludgeoned to death. Four eyewitnesses observed a “suspicious looking” man at Castor Avenue and St. Vincent Street, carrying a cardboard box that was presumed to be the one Barbara’s body was discovered in. The man was described as a white male, wearing a white t-shirt and cut-off jeans. He was said to be between 25 and 30 years old, 5'8", 180 pounds, with blonde/brown hair. The case stayed unsolved for four years and the authorities re-interviewed the Horn’s neighbors in 1992. One of those neighbors was Walter Ogrod, who allegedly gave conflicting information to the police. This immediately sent up red flags and the police became suspicious of Ogrod. After further questioning Ogrod broke down and confessed to Barbara’s murder. According to Ogrod, Barbara had come over to play with a young boy who was living with his family at the time. He claimed that he “lured her to the basement and tried to sexually assault her.” When she tried to run and fight back, he repeatedly hit her with a metal rod until she died. He claimed that he washed her, wrapped her in a towel, placed her in the television box, and then dumped her body several blocks away. Ogrod was shown a picture of the box Barbara was found in and he claimed that was the box he used. He signed a confession and was charged with Barbara’s murder. After his arrest, Ogrod claimed the police coerced him into offering and signing a confession. He went on trial for her murder in 1993, which ended in a mistrial. He went on trial again in 1996, where he was convicted and sentenced to death.
A conviction review was requested in 2018 and DNA testing was used on evidence from the old case. In January 2020, the DNA evidence found on Barbara’s body was shown to be male, but did not match Ogrod’s DNA. The Philadelphia DA’s Office then stated that they believe Ogrod’s confession was coerced by the two detectives that interviewed him and asked for his conviction to be overturned. On June 5, 2020 Orgod officially became a free man. Unfortunately, this means Barbara’s real killer is also free and has been for over 30 years.
Article By: Alyssa Crum