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Ohio Man Allegedly Killed Dollar Tree Cashier On New Year's Day With A Machete

A panicked 911 caller said Keris Riebel "fell straight to the ground" after the first machete blow, according to a recording obtained by Oxygen.com.

By Caitlin Schunn
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A man walked into a Dollar Tree northwest Ohio with a machete on New Year’s Day and allegedly hit and killed a woman who worked there

Officers with the Upper Sandusky Police Department told Oyxgen.com that Bethel Bekele, 27, appeared in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court for the first time Tuesday afternoon on a charge of murder.

Police in Upper Sandusky — which is between Toledo and Columbus — responded to a call at the Dollar Tree on East Wyandot Avenue at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday for reports that a man was in the store and had swung a machete, hitting an employee.

Police released the panicked 911 call to Oxygen.com. In it, a caller tells dispatchers the man walked in and said something to the cashier before hitting her “in the back of the neck” with what the caller described as an axe. The caller said the employee “fell straight to the ground.” The caller told dispatchers that they ran out of the store, and subsequently saw the man leave the store on foot.

A social media photo of Keris Riebel

The caller didn’t see the man didn’t try to hit anyone else with the weapon.

Upon arrival, police found 22-year-old cashier Keris Riebel dead.

Lucas also told Oxygen.com Bekele’s vehicle was found parked in front of the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office soon after the attack, and when officers approached him, he surrendered and was arrested.

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Police allege that Bekele hit Riebel “numerous times” with the machete. The Lucas County Coroner’s office is still conducting an autopsy to determine Riebel’s exact cause of death. Chief of police Jared Lucas told Oxygen.com that the murder weapon was found at the store.

Detectives are investigating if there was any prior relationship between Riebel and Bekele, and what a possible motive might have been, according to Upper Sandusky police.

A police handout of Bethel Bekele

Relatives of Riebel created a GoFundMe page to cover her funeral expenses. The author writes Keris and her husband, Jordan, were newlyweds “who had a bright future ahead of them,” adding, “Jordan and Keris were also looking forward to having children and most recently a puppy, and starting their new lives together. It was ripped apart from the both of them in a matter of seconds.”

The author of the GoFundMe said Riebel had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources.

“Keris was a beautiful soul, and anyone who met her would say how sweet and kind she was,” the author, who said she was Jordan’s aunt, wrote.

Wynford Local Schools in Bucyrus, Ohio — about 20 miles east of Upper Sandusky — said on its Facebook page that Riebel was a 2019 graduate.

“Keris was a beautiful soul, with a faith-filled heart,” the post read. “She exuded genuine kindness to everyone she met and her smile was unforgettable. Keris was taken way too soon and will forever live in the hearts of the Wynford community. Please lift up all her family and friends in your thoughts during this devastating time.”

The school district offered counseling for students and staff as school resumed Tuesday.

Upper Sandusky’s chief of police told Columbus NBC affiliate WBNS that violent crime is rare in the city, noting that its last murder occurred in 2001. Police said more charges could be coming once the investigation is complete.

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