When Rhoda Nathan’s lifeless body was discovered in her hotel room, it was assumed she’d had a heart attack. The autopsy proved otherwise: Nathan, 67, had been viciously beaten to death, punched so hard by her assailant that two of her teeth had been knocked out.
Days later, a hotel employee went to the hospital to be treated for an infection in his hand, which was teeming with a bacteria most often found in human mouths. That, plus a pendant an officer said was discovered in the trunk of his car, sealed the fate of Elwood Jones, who awaits execution on Ohio’s death row.
For nearly 30 years, Jones has maintained his innocence — and accused police of straight-up framing him. The journalists of Accused are reexamining the case to learn if Jones truly belongs on death row, or if a botched investigation let someone else get away with murder.
New Jersey native Rhoda Nathan had flown to Cincinnati for a family event: the bar mitzvah of her best friend’s grandson. It should have been one of those quick, life-affirming trips we all experience every so often. But somehow, this one ended in tragedy.
Elwood Jones would be the first to say he’s not everyone’s favorite person. “I did some stunts,” Jones said during a prison interview. Like one time, he said he refused to get dressed when it was time to appear in court, so he was hauled from his cell naked by guards.
Rhoda Nathan was initially thought to have had a heart attack or endured a nasty fall. But soon after police arrived, her roommate, lifelong friend Elaine Shub, announced that $500 was missing from her purse. The room had been robbed, she said.
If not Elwood, who?
According to police records, three people – including two other workers with violent criminal records – were accosted for middle-of-the-night interviews, during which they were given lie-detector tests, just days after the homicide.
The (Supposed) confession
As Delores Suggs wiled away the hours of her jail sentence in 1995, a fellow inmate told her a crazy story about her husband having killed a woman in a hotel room.
Deserving of Death?
If Elwood Jones had been a white man convicted of killing Rhoda Nathan in her hotel room in 1994, chances are, he wouldn’t be sitting on death row.
In this episode, we take a look at the evidence some say is the ultimate proof that Jones is the real killer of the 67-year-old grandmother.