Update


NEW DETAILS: Witness saw husband, wife before her death, sheriff says

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 3:45 PM

NEW DETAILS: Witness saw husband, wife before her death, sheriff says

Investigators believe they have witnesses who can place a husband at the scene where his wife was found dead in a car, Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said Tuesday.

Randy Freels faces a charge of one count of murder in the death of his wife, Samantha Freels, 52, who was found in a wrecked car with a gunshot wound Friday.

Bail for Randy Freels, 57, was set at $1.5 million Tuesday in Miami County Municipal Court. He pleaded not guilty.

EARLIER: Miami County woman found dead, husband held

Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell asked Judge Gary Nasal to set “a substantial cash bond as high as the court is willing to give. This is based on his conduct and the charge itself.”

Duchak said a check of available department records to 2010 did not show any sheriff’s office calls to the Freels’ residence.

WATCH: Husband gets $1.5M bond in death of Samantha Freels. Randy Freels has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of his wife who was found inside her car last Friday.

One of the witnesses told investigators she stopped on Ohio 55 around 2:50 p.m. Jan. 12 to ask a man and woman in the road if they needed assistance, then heard “six to eight popping sounds” a short time later after pulling into her nearby driveway, according to a sheriff’s office report.

The witness said the woman “appeared nervous and the male did not make eye contact with her and did not speak,” according to the report. The witness, after viewing a photograph, said she believed the woman was Samantha Freels of Union Twp.

MORE: Suspect in 30-hour standoff demanded ‘thousands’ in cash from 10-year-old boy’s mother

Emergency crews were called just after 3 p.m. Friday for a report of a car into a creek in the area of Ohio 55 and Elleman Road — near where the woman had encountered the couple earlier.

Investigators initially thought the driver, Samantha Freels, died because of the crash but later found she had a gunshot wound.

A sheriff’s investigator at the scene noticed a “fresh bullet hole” on the vehicle’s trunk lid.

Randy Freels was arrested Friday evening at the couple’s home on South Rangeline Road.

Duchak said Tuesday that the investigation continues after a search of a car driven by Samantha Freels, a truck also found near the crash scene and registered to Samantha Freels and the Rangeline Road, Ludlow Falls, residence.

The sheriff said numerous weapons were found in the search of the home, including long rifles and pistols. He did not have an exact number but said it would be “in excess of 40.”

“We have several witnesses we believe will place him at the scene,” Duchak said Tuesday.

Samantha Freels was employed as a digital sales specialist for Cox Media Group Ohio, the parent company of WHIO-TV and Dayton Daily News.

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Sheriff: I’ll offer conceal-and-carry class to local teachers

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 3:39 PM

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones talks about school safety and threats to schools and what they are doing to address the problem.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones today said he will take steps to bolster local school safety by training those who work there.

Jones posted to social media that his office will offer free conceal-and-carry class to a limited number of teachers in Butler County. He also said training regarding on how to react during school shootings would be provided.


Posted by Butler County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, February 18, 2018

He said the details would be coming soon online and suggested that people could visit the Butler County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for more information for CCW for teachers.

MORE: Here’s what area schools have done to boost security measures

Jones on Saturday said he has “been saying this for years” as he tweeted a Fox News story that Polk County, Fla. Sheriff Grady Judd said it would be a “game changer” to allow some hand-picked teachers to carry firearms in the classroom.


Jones, in a video posted Thursday, urged local schools to act now to improve school security in the wake of the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school on Wednesday.

He said local schools should stop doing fire drills and allow armed former police and military veterans into buildings to help protect students.

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These local law enforcement officials survived being shot. Here are their stories.

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:53 AM

Hamilton Police Officer Chad Stafford receives the Medal of Valor in May 2014. STAFF PHOTO
Hamilton Police Officer Chad Stafford receives the Medal of Valor in May 2014. STAFF PHOTO

Since January, 12 law enforcement officer across the county have been shot and killed, including two veteran officers killed in Westerville on Saturday while they responded to an apparent domestic situation.

The events brought back chilling memories for officers in Butler County, where two shootings have occurred in recent history.

Both law enforcement officers who were shot survived.

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Thursday marked the fourth anniversary of the shooting of Hamilton Police Officer Chad Stafford on a freezing Saturday morning.

Stafford responded just after 7 a.m. on Feb. 15, 2014, to a report of an armed man firing shots into the air in a quiet neighborhood. Stafford spotted the suspect, identified as Brandon Keeler, walking along the 1100 block of Sipple Avenue.

When Stafford got out of his car, Keeler shot at him. Stafford ducked behind a car, but the bullet grazed his head. Wounded, the firearms instructor and 16-year veteran of the Hamilton Police Department returned fire, striking Keeler dead with multiple gunshots.

Keeler, who left notes indicating he wanted to die at the hands of police, was shooting a civilian version of an AK-47 rifle and had plenty of ammunition.

Stafford fully recovered and returned to work on March 20, 2014. He is still patrolling the streets of the city.

In May 2014, Stafford was presented with a Medal of Valor, a supreme degree of recognition for selfless bravery during extreme conditions.

After that presentation, Stafford told this news outlet that it was wonderful to be back to work.

On that morning, Stafford said he was not alarmed by a shots fired call and really not too alarmed when he got out of his vehicle to face the armed man.

“It was another Saturday morning. I thought, I am going to tell him to put down the gun and he is going to, but he didn’t,” Stafford said.

He said he remembers returning fire and “I watched him lay down in the snow. I continued to cover him until the other officers arrived.”

Then-Hamilton Chief of Police Scott Scrimizzi holds the civilian model AK-47 rifle during a press conference at the Police Station, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. The rifle was used in the officer involved shooting which occurred in Hamilton, Saturday, Feb. 15, injuring officer Chad Stafford.(Staff Writer)

Hamilton Public Safety Director Scott Scrimizzi, who was police chief in February 2014, said officer shootings do bring back that horrible call he received on Feb. 15, 2014.

“I was convinced that Chad was killed,” Scrimizzi said. He was driving his daughter to swim practice that day when he got a call from dispatch that Stafford had been shot in the head. “I will never forget 7:04, that is when my phone went off.”

“I pulled up convinced that he was dead,” Scrimizzi said. “They had the tape up … I see that we have a crime scene set up and there is a body there and I am convinced it is Chad.”

A supervisor, who didn’t recognize the chief at first, soon told him Stafford was a alive and being treated.

“That is when we transition to immediately, we have got to get to his family,” Scrimizzi said. He wanted to make sure Stafford’s wife and two children did not find out about his shooting from the media or social media.

Scrimizzi added Stafford “clearly had an angel sitting on his shoulder that day.”

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Butler County Sherriff Richard Jones addresses the media gathered at the Lazy Dog Feed and Drink drive-thru (in background) in Milford Twp. where a Butler County Sherriff’s Brandon Roberts was shot April 20, 2005. GREG LYNCH/STAFF(Staff Writer)

On March 20, 2005, Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Roberts was shot just outside the Village of Seven Mile while trying to apprehend to suspects on a crime spree.

Two Hamilton men, Mark Kendrick Jr., and Robert Morris, first attempted to rob a bank in College Corner, Ind., with sawed-off shotguns — they found the bank doors closed — before driving to Camden and robbing a BP station.

Camden Police Chief Mike Croucher began following the two men in his private vehicle. A short time after Croucher began his chase, the two suspects pulled into the Lazy Dog drive-through on Ohio 127 in Milford Township and attempted to disfigure their license plate.

Roberts then approached the suspect vehicle and stuck his weapon inside the front window. One of the men rose up from the car’s back seat and shot Roberts. The bullet went just under his vest and into his stomach.

The two men then stole the police cruiser and the officer’s gun and traveled south on Eaton Road. Later, with deputies in pursuit, they crashed the cruiser into a culvert about four miles from the Lazy Dog.

Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Roberts is loaded into a helicopter near Seven Mile, Ohio, after suffering a gunshot wound in a confrontation with two men following a robbery. STAFF PHOTO(Staff Writer)

Kendrick and Morris fled into a creek area, where one suspect was found, hurt, a short time later. He was transported to an area hospital and the second suspect taken into custody by deputies.

“Just talking about it sends chills down my spine,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

He said he was in his office in Hamilton and responded with lights and sirens.

“Seems like it took forever to get there,” Jones said. “They were loading him on CareFlight when I got there. We really didn’t know if he would live.”

Roberts said he thought he was dying, Jones said.

“They left him for dead in the dirt, took his gun and told him they would shoot him if he moved,” the sheriff said.

Roberts did recover and returned to the department. he later retired.

“He has another career and is doing well,” Jones said. “We were very fortunate that day.”

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Springboro teacher’s son appeals conviction in drug case

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:34 AM


            Warren County Juvenile Court Judge Joe Kirby’s conviction of a Springboro boy’s conviction in a drug case involving his mother, a teacher in Springboro, has been appealed to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Warren County Juvenile Court Judge Joe Kirby’s conviction of a Springboro boy’s conviction in a drug case involving his mother, a teacher in Springboro, has been appealed to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

The teen son of Springboro teacher Amy Panzeca has appealed his juvenile court conviction in their drug case to the Twelfth District Court.

In December, her son, now 16, was sentenced to 30 more days in the local detention center as part of his sentence in Warren County Juvenile Court. He had pleaded no contest to charges of trafficking in drugs and possession of controlled substances.

RELATED: Springboro teacher’s motion for treatment in lieu of conviction denied

He was also ordered to complete an in-patient treatment program, placed on probation, possibly until he turns 21, and fined $250.

He was accused of selling drugs to students at Springboro High School, including LSD allegedly purchased with Bitcoin, an on-line currency that his mother purchased for him with a credit or debit card.

RELATED: Teacher’s son sentenced in their drug case

Before the no-contest plea, his lawyer Kevin Hughes urged Judge Joe Kirby to suppress statements made to police and agents of the Warren County Drug Task Force and a search warrant supporting a raid of the Panzeca home in Settler’s Walk planned community.

Copies of both motions are included with the appeal filed with the court.

The charge came after a raid last May of the Panzeca home in the Settler’s Walk planned community in Springboro, culminating an investigation in which kids were questioned after being stopped by police after leaving the home.

RELATED: Teacher facing drug case admired in Springboro school district

Amy Panzeca, 48, is pressing for the identity of confidential informants in her case and suppression of statements to police. A suppression hearing is scheduled for Feb. 28 in court in Lebanon.

No dates have been set yet in her son’s appeal in the state appeals court in Middletown.

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6-year-old boy, 3 family members shot outside Texas steakhouse

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:06 AM



Mark Wilson/Getty Images
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Police are investigating after a 6-year-old boy and three of his family members were shot Sunday evening in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse steakhouse in San Antonio.

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Police Chief William McManus said Sunday that the shooting, which happened as people were waiting outside the restaurant to eat, left the 6-year-old with a gunshot wound to his leg. Police said two of the boy’s three injured family members, all adults in their 20s, were hospitalized Sunday in critical but stable condition.

The shooting happened around 8:40 p.m. outside the Texas Roadhouse steakhouse on Cinema Ridge, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

“We do not believe that this shooting is random,” McManus said. “There were a number of people that were standing (outside the restaurant). All the people that were hit were from the same family.”

The gunman, who has not been identified, fired about 10 shots at the family within 15 feet of the front of Texas Roadhouse, the Express-News reported. He was masked at the time of the shooting, according to the newspaper.

Police continue to investigate the attack.

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