The Kenneth Biros Murder House


A very true murder story is the source of this Trumbull County ghost story, which centers around a house located at 5956 Kings Graves Road in Vienna Center.

According to the recreation of events done by the court later on, this is what happened on the night of February 7, 1991. Tami Engstrom felt sick and took off early from her job in Hubbard, Ohio. She headed to Masury, where she met her uncle Daniel Hivner at the Nickelodeon Lounge. "Engstrom consumed several alcoholic drinks," as the appellate brief dryly states, before Mr. Kenneth Biros showed up an hour after she arrived. She wanted to drive home around 1AM, but Uncle Daniel took her keys and insisted she not drive drunk. He knew Biros a little, trusted him enough to accept his offer to take Tami out for coffee to help sober her up and then bring her back to the bar. Daniel Hivner waited for hours but the two never returned. Despite the fact that Tami was married, he headed home, assuming that Biros had taken care of her.

He had, but not in the way that her uncle had in mind. The next day Andy Engstrom, Tami's husband, went to see Kenneth to ask where his wife was. Biros told an unlikely story: Tami had flipped out when they were driving to get coffee in the not-too-distant town of Sharon, Pennsylvania. According to what he told Andy, other friends and neighbors, and eventually the police, Tami had been passed out in his car until he began to withdraw money in Sharon, when she woke up, demanded to be taken back to the Nickelodeon, and opened the door and took off running across people's lawns on Davis Street. The cut over his eye and cuts and scratches on his hands he explained away as injuries he'd gotten in two different indicents. First, he cut his eye while chopping wood, and the hands had gotten sliced up while climbing through a broken window after he locked himself out of his home. He stuck to this story even when his mother, with whom he lived, found Tami Engstrom's ring on the bathroom floor of their house.


But he cracked under police questioning, after Captain John Klaric used the old "maybe she fell down and hit her head accidentally" routine on him. Yeah, Biros said, that's it, and proceeded to tell the tale. He acquired a lawyer, waived his Miranda rights. The body, he said, was in Pennsylvania (in Butler and Vernango Counties), but he'd killed her on Kings Graves Road this side of the border. He told a garbled story, insinuating that she fell, or was hit by a car. The first part of his confession was recorded thus: "It's like you said, we were in the car together. We were out along the railroad tracks. I touched her on the hand. Then I went further. I either touched or felt her leg. She pushed my hand away. The car wasn't quite stopped. She opened the door and fell and struck her head on the tracks." This occurred in Brookfield Township, Trumbull County, Ohio.


However she died, Kenneth spared no effort in disposing of her body in grisly fashion. Her head and right breast were hacked off. Her naked torso had been eviscerated, the anus, rectum, bowels, bladder, and sex organs removed as well. Later investigators discovered Tami's intestines, black leather coat, and shoe in a swampy area near a set of railroad tracks Biros led them to. Tami's blood was all over the gravel and the tracks themselves. Most of the rest of her was found in the other dumping area, but at least part of her liver was recovered from the trunk of Biros's car.

It turned out that Biros had invited Tami Engstrom to see the "cabin" in his back yard. The cabin turned out to be an ordinary concrete shed in the middle of the woods behind the house. Once he got her into the woods he tried to rape her, then killed her by beating and stabbing her; the coroner determined that she suffered ninety-one injuries and stab wounds before she died, including at least five knife wounds after she was dead. The blood on his clothes and shoes, as well as in the woods behind the house, would help convict him. He carried her body in his car to desolate fields in Pennsylvania and tried to dispose of it, but was under arrest just two days later.

Late in that year, Kenneth Biros went to trial for four felony counts related to the murder of Tami Engstrom: Aggravated murder with two specifications of aggravating circumstances, felonious sexual penetration, aggravated robbery, and attempted rape. Found guilty on all counts, Biros received the death penalty, and now awaits Ohio's lethal injection pending several appeals, inmate number 249514 at the Mansfield Correctional Facility. He is in his late forties.


For a long time, Biros's house was boarded up and fire-damaged. Then it collapsed completely, leaving nothing but an extremely well-preserved fireplace and chimney standing. It's said that Tami Engstrom's ghost wanders the woods behind his house--the woods where she was murdered. People driving past have witnessed her standing in the woods, whole once again, her murderer nowhere to be found (perhaps because he languishes behind bars). She is unable to rest because of the cruel way in which her life ended, and if you visit the woods which border the ruined Biros house today, you may well encounter her miserable spirit.

Biros was moved to Southern Correctional in Lucasville as his execution date nears; it looks to be the first of Ted Strickland's administration. The same day the governor denied him clemency (March 16, 2007--just four days before his scheduled DOE), the US Supreme Court issued a stay in order to allow Biros's attorneys to make their case for death by lethal injection constituting cruel and unusual punishment.

Special thanks to Tom for the excellent photographs and up-to-date information on the condition of the house.



Wikipedia: Kenneth Biros
Death Penalty Info: Kenneth Biros


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Sources

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Kenneth Biros v. Margaret Bagley. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 00-01384. Dan A. Polster, District Judge. Argued: February 1, 2005. Decided and Filed: September 9, 2005. Siler, Gibbons, and Sytton, Circuit Judges.