Ruth Pelke was a 78-year-old American from Gary, Indiana, who was murdered by Paula Cooper (August 25, 1969 – May 26, 2015), aged 15, on May 14, 1985. Cooper stabbed Pelke 33 times with a butcher knife before stealing ten dollars and her car. A year later, Cooper was sentenced to death on July 11, 1986.
Cooper's age and sentence attracted an international uproar, especially in Europe, including a condemnation from Pope John Paul II. In 1989, her sentence was commuted to 60 years in prison. On June 17, 2013, Cooper was released from Rockville Correctional Facility. She died on May 26, 2015, following an apparent suicide.Murder of Ruth Pelke in Wikipedia