A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New book by former reporter who covered trials reveals unexplored clues in Widmer murder case

The untold story of “the bathtub murder” — and some unexplored clues — are revealed in a new book, Submerged: Ryan Widmer, his drowned bride and the justice system.


Just before the 10-year anniversary of the case, Submerged details, for the first time, Widmer’s account of the night Sarah Widmer died, Aug. 11, 2008, including a surprising revelation about Sarah — one that was never explored during Widmer’s three trials in Warren County, Ohio.

Sarah, 24, had formerly lived in Bellevue and worked as a dental hygienist in Fort Thomas.

Author Janice (Morse) Hisle, who covered the case during her 15 years as a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, discovered a long-forgotten document that says Sarah exhibited a peculiar behavior, including the night she drowned. That behavior could be linked to a neurological disorder or other condition, medical resources say. But no tests were done to rule out several suspected disorders.

Prosecutors refused to release Sarah’s DNA for testing, an issue that Widmer’s lawyer is still fighting in appeals.

Even though a Warren County jury convicted Ryan of murder in 2011, the jurors never agreed on a scenario that fit all the evidence; nor did they settle on a reason why Widmer would have killed his wife of four months.

The book is based on fresh interviews with more than two dozen people, including Ryan Widmer; 6,000 pages of trial transcripts; Hisle’s personal recollections of the trials; and thousands of previously undisclosed documents such as Ryan’s personal journal, his lawyers’ files and more than a thousand pages of police investigative records.

The book, published by former Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson’s company, Chilidog Press, is available at www.janicehisle.com.  Hisle encourages readers to reach their own conclusions about the case.

If appeals fail, Widmer, now 37, will remain locked up at least until his first possible parole date, July 2025. He is serving 15 years to life in prison.

Chilidog Press

Related Posts

Leave a Comment