Bail denied for hostage case suspect


Ralph Paul Ash, accused of holding a 20-year-old woman hostage in Woodbine for almost 13 hours Wednesday, said his actions were part of a plan to kill his estranged wife, according to documents presented at his bail review hearing yesterday.

A court commissioner ordered him held without bail.

Mr. Ash was charged with first-degree rape and seven other offenses after he surrendered at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday.

He walked out of the woman's mobile home 30 minutes after she bolted to freedom when her abductor turned away to answer a phone call from a state police negotiator. She told police she had been held at knifepoint throughout the day.

According to the charging documents, Mr. Ash, who lived in a mobile home near that of the hostage, told state police investigators:

"Around 4 a.m. [he] went to a place to use a phone, I went to a trailer and I didn't think anybody was home, so I climbed through the back window.

"I didn't see anybody at first, I walked down the hall, I saw what I thought was a closet. But it was a small bedroom and there was somebody laying in the bed and I had a knife with me, and I got down on the bed and told the person don't make a sound or I'll kill you.

"I told her I wanted to use her to get to my wife, to talk to my wife. I wanted to get my wife to come over so I could kill her.

"The whole plan was to get my wife."

Linda Lee Ash was at the site of the confrontation much of Wednesday, and at one point the abductor offered to trade his hostage for her.

Police said he also indicated that he would release the hostage and surrender if he could see or talk with his wife. Mrs. Ash approached the mobile home, escorted by police, but the abductor pulled his hostage back inside and slammed the door.

Mr. Ash is charged with first-degree rape, second-degree rape, assault with intent to rape, assault with intent to murder, false imprisonment, burglary, breaking and entering and battery.

Mr. Ash, a 37-year-old general maintenance worker, has been charged with violent sex offenses at least twice previously, according to court records. In 1981, he was charged with second-degree rape and was sentenced to the time he had already spent in jail awaiting trial and placed on probation.

Two years later, he was found guilty but not criminally responsible on an assault with intent to rape charge and was confined to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital for 2 1/2 years.

Yesterday, he was brought to the Carroll County courthouse annex for a bail hearing at 4:30 p.m. dressed in the clothing in which he was arrested, a white T-shirt with "I Support Desert Storm" on the front, shorts and white tennis shoes.

Police said they think Wednesday's standoff was precipitated by a domestic dispute. Mr. Ash was recently served with a court order to remain away from his estranged wife and their twin 5-year-old sons after she alleged abuse.

He was also served with a court order Tuesday to vacate their mobile home, which had no phone.

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