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Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Rhonda Lorna Essenpreis

A 63-year-old woman has been charged in the Wednesday stabbing death of a Signal Mountain man believed to be her romantic partner.

Rhonda Lorna Essenpreis is being held at the Silverdale Detention Center in connection with the slaying of Randall Paul Otto, 69, based on evidence at the scene, according to Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer J. Matt Lea.

(READ MORE: Signal Mountain mandates masks inside town buildings)

Shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday, Signal Mountain police responded to a 911 call reporting a possible overdose on the 3600 block of Scarlet Maple Court. Once there, they found Otto with an apparent stab wound to the chest. Hamilton County emergency medical services pronounced Otto dead at the scene.

Signal Mountain Detective Randy Poland investigated with the help of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

According to the arrest affidavit, Essenpreis refused to let responding officers into the home.

They eventually gained access when a friend of Essenpreis' daughter, who had made the 911 call, arrived and opened the door for them. Officers found a lifeless Otto seated in a living room chair.

(READ MORE: Woman detained in early morning death of man in Signal Mountain home)

Essenpreis then ran to her bedroom and barricaded herself inside, according to the affidavit. Officers used fire department breaching tools to enter the bedroom where Essenpreis was reportedly found lying on the bed with blood on her hands, feet and clothing. The woman was taken to Erlanger hospital for treatment of a possible narcotics overdose and potential injuries.

Investigators found that there were no defensive wounds on Essenpreis' body, the affidavit said, but they did find a single cut on her middle finger consistent with "a cut made during the use of a knife in an aggressive manner."

DNA tests of the blood found on Essenpreis determined it to be that of Otto.

According to investigators, Essenpreis and Otto were in a romantic relationship. A packed suitcase, believed to belong to Otto, was found next to blood stains. Investigators also found empty bottles for prescription pills around the house — consistent with a homicide followed by a suicide attempt, the affidavit said.

Further investigation revealed that Essenpreis had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had not been taking her medications as instructed. The affidavit also reported she "suffered from a possible sleep disturbance disorder and had several previous episodes of becoming violent."

Essenpreis is being charged with criminal homicide. No bond had been set as of Thursday afternoon.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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