Ohio woman fatally drugged 4 men after meeting them for sex, officials say

Ohio woman fatally drugged 4 men after meeting them for sex, officials say

Bethany Bruner

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio woman has been indicted on murder charges in the deaths of at least four men in what the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said were serial killings.

Rebecca Auborn, 33, is accused of meeting men for sex at hotels in Ohio’s capital city of Columbus before drugging them and then robbing them, according to state Attorney General Dave Yost. Four of Auborn’s alleged victims died of overdoses between December 2022 and June 2023, the attorney general’s office said.

A fifth victim survived, according to the attorney general’s office. And investigators believe there may be more victims.

“Don’t buy sex in Ohio – it ruins lives and could cost you yours,” Yost said in a statement last week.

Auborn faces four counts of murder, four counts of involuntary manslaughter, five counts of aggravated robbery, five counts of felonious assault, five counts of corrupting another with drugs, one count of tampering with evidence and four counts of trafficking in drugs, the attorney general’s office said. All of the charges are felonies.

Should Auborn be convicted on all charges, she faces decades in prison. She is currently being held in Franklin County jail.

What is Auborn accused of?

Auborn, from northeast Columbus, had no significant criminal history until earlier this year when police say she began meeting men for sex and drugging them to rob them. Records show she has at least one child and had a daughter who died at 18 days old in November 2016.

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Auborn gave the men fentanyl before robbing them, according to the indictment filed Wednesday. The meetings are believed to have taken place at hotels in northeast Columbus.

The fatal overdoses occurred on Jan. 15, April 1, April 13, and June 17, the indictment said. The fifth victim who survived met Auborn on Dec. 13, 2022.

In September, authorities charged Auborn in connection with the Jan. 15 case that resulted in the death of a 30-year-old man. In that case, Auborn was charged with aggravated robbery, felonious assault, murder, corruption of another with drugs, trafficking in drugs, and the illegal manufacture of drugs.

Court records from another case said Auborn admitted to detectives that she had mixed fentanyl in a man’s crack pipe after meeting him for sex. Auborn told detectives she knew the man was overdosing but took his vehicle and debit card, according to court records.

How did the investigation start?

The Ohio Attorney General’s office said in a news release that the investigation began after a tip was received by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.

According to the attorney general’s office, the tip said a woman was meeting “johns” at hotels in northeast Columbus and drugging them to steal their possession. Police are continuing to investigate overdose deaths that occurred between December 2022 and August 2023 in the area.

Yost told the Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network, that he feels Auborn meets the criteria for a serial killer because she has more than three deaths allegedly connected to her — all of which have a similar pattern. Definitions of serial killers can vary.

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“I’ve never seen a case similar to this in my career, and having talked to colleagues, they haven’t seen this kind of thing,” Yost said.

Yost also expressed concern that Auborn’s actions could result in work his office has done to promote awareness about human trafficking being undone.

“It would be a real injustice if the actions of this individual were an impediment to other survivors of human trafficking. Most of the women who are survivors are victims,” he said. “They are not predators, they are the prey of the predators.”

What happens next in the case?

Auborn had been scheduled to appear for an arraignment Friday afternoon in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The hearing is now scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, according to court records.

Prosecutors gave no reason for the postponement.

Auborn does not currently have a lawyer appointed to represent her, according to court records. Yost did not provide any additional details about the case when speaking to the Dispatch.

The identities of the four men who died were redacted from the indictment provided to the Dispatch on Thursday by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office.

Anyone with information is asked to call a dedicated Columbus police tip line at 614-645-2228.

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