Arrest made in gruesome case of burned Ohio woman

A young woman was charged with murder Friday in the gruesome death of a woman found covered in burns and wailing in agony on the side of a rural Ohio road last weekend.

In addition to aggravated murder, 20-year-old Katrina Marie Culberson of Canton was charged with kidnapping and aggravated arson in the death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office. It’s unclear whether Culberson has an attorney.

A driver found Fronsman early Sunday on a road northeast of Zanesville. She had been raped and burned, and had a strap around her neck. She died two days later at a Columbus hospital.

Dr. Jan Gorniak, the Franklin County coroner, ruled the death a homicide but said it will take four to six weeks before the exact cause of death can be determined because of extensive second-, third- and fourth-degree burns on about 80 percent of Fronsman’s body.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said Culberson was arrested Wednesday and detectives have interviewed her, although he declined to discuss the contents of their talk.

Lutz also declined to say what detectives believe was the motive or whether anyone else participated in the killing, saying only that “there are other people of interest that investigators are trying to contact.”

“We’re going to do everything we can do to prosecute all the people involved in it,” said Lutz, who has called Fronsman’s killing “one of the most gruesome things I’ve ever seen in 23 1/2 years in law enforcement.”

He also has said investigators believe that whoever killed Fronsman knew her. “This was not a random thing,” he said.

Culberson has been arrested at least six times in the last two years on charges that include soliciting for prostitution, theft and burglary, court records show.

In the prostitution case, Culberson pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two months in jail. She was found guilty on the burglary charge, while the theft charge against her is pending.

Online records show Culberson lived about 5 miles away from Fronsman in Canton. No phone number was listed for her.

Court records also show Fronsman was involved in prostitution and was living a dangerous life, having had dozens of brushes with the law since 2003.

In less than 10 years, Fronsman was arrested more than 20 times on charges mostly involving domestic violence, cocaine possession and prostitution, records in Canton and Stark County courts show.

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