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Charles Mark COHEN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Robbery
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1988 - 1989
Date of birth: 1954
Victims profile: Martin and Ethel Cohen (his parents) / Conrad Lutz (vice president of Wells Fargo Bank)
Method of murder: Bludgeoned his parents with a dumbbell, then stabbed and cut them, almost decapitating his mother / Stabbing with a dagger
Location: Delaware/California, USA
Status: Sentenced to two life terms plus 60 years for killing his parents in Delaware in 1992. Sentenced to life in prison in California

Delaware: Board of Pardons rejects commutation plea from infamous killer

August 31, 2006

The state Board of Pardons refused Thursday to recommend commutation of the life prison sentences for a man who committed one of Delaware's most notorious crimes and then killed a San Francisco businessman.

The board deliberated less than three minutes in deciding not to recommend commutation for Charles Cohen, 41, who pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the brutal 1988 murders of his parents, Martin and Ethel Cohen.

"In light of the heinous nature of these crimes, the opposition of the state Board of Parole, and the obvious threat to society, we will not recommend that commutation be granted," Lt. Gov. John Carney told Cohen tersely after a hearing that lasted about 15 minutes.

Cohen, who was 23 at the time of the killings, told the board he is a changed man, and that he has embraced Christianity.

"With the help of Jesus Christ, I've made a full turnaround," he said, his left foot twitching nervously throughout the proceeding. "I'm not the same person."

"That was then, this is now," added Cohen, sporting a full beard and dressed in a red sweatsuit, with his legs shackled and hands cuffed in front of him. "I didn't have God in my life back then. I didn't have anything at all. I was just a totally different person."

Cohen is being held at the Delaware Psychiatric Center for mental health treatment but is expected to return soon to Sussex Correctional Institution. Cohen's father was director of the state hospital for the mentally ill when he was murdered, having moved his family to Delaware from Galesburg, Ill., just months earlier.

Cohen told the board he was taken to the psychiatric center after suggesting that a witchcraft spell had been cast against him.

"It's spoken of in the Bible several times," he explained. "It's a very real thing that's out there. There are covens, there's such a thing as witchcraft."

Deputy attorney general Robert O'Neill Jr. recounted Cohen's crimes for board members, noting how Cohen in November 1988 bludgeoned his parents with a dumbbell, then stabbed and cut them, almost decapitating his mother.

"I still have emblazoned in my mind the image of both his parents," said O'Neill, who traced Cohen's movements to San Francisco, where he was befriended in February 1989 by businessman Conrad Lutz, a vice president of Wells Fargo Bank.

As Lutz lay naked in his bed expecting to have sex with Cohen, Cohen told Lutz to close his eyes because he had something to give him, then stabbed him repeatedly with a dagger, O'Neill said.

Cohen, who twice appeared on the television show America's Most Wanted, fled California after killing Lutz and surfaced about a year later in New Orleans, where he was arrested and charged with trying to mug a woman and not paying a taxi fare.

At a hearing before a Louisiana judge, Cohen unexpectedly revealed his true identity and confessed to the three murders. After being brought back to Delaware in 1992, he was sentenced to two life terms plus 60 years for killing his parents. He later pleaded guilty in California to killing Lutz and was sentenced to life in prison for that crime.

"Mister Cohen is where he belongs," O'Neill told the board. "He's extremely dangerous. ... He never deserves to be released in society."



MO: Stabbed/bludgeoned parents; stabbed/robbed gay man.

DISPOSITION: Life term for killing parents in Del., 1992.


This book relates the shocking tale of Charles Cohen



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