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New Year’s Eve gunpoint robbery one of two investigated in Middletown

Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 4:51 PM


Thieves stole $3,250 during two recent robberies in Middletown, according to police reports.

A man who lives in the 500 block of Baltimore Street told police that two men robbed him of $2,500 at gunpoint at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

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He told police that as he was walking to the neighborhood grocery store, two men approached him, pulled out a gun and told him, “Don’t move or I will kill you,” according to the report. As he ran away, he was tackled by the two men and repeatedly punched and kicked, he told police.

During the fight, his jacket was removed, and that’s when he lost the money that was in his wallet, he said.

He ran back to his residence and called police, but no suspects were found.

A Middletown woman also told police that after withdrawing $750 from Fifth Third Bank at Central Avenue and Main Street on Dec. 29, she walked through the parking lot toward the Mid-Pointe Library System. She said two men ran behind her, grabbed her purse and ran away.

When she found her purse a short distance away, the money was missing, she told police.

Police were unable to find any suspects.

Standoff suspect demanded ‘thousands’ in cash from hostage boy’s mother

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:29 AM

Liberty Twp. standoff suspect arraigned

A 30-hour standoff that involved a 10-year-old boy being held against his will at an apartment complex in Liberty Twp. began with the door being opened for the suspect.

Donald Tobias Gazaway, 31, was let into the apartment late Friday night by residents of the apartment in the 700 block of East Hamilton Place, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.

» READ MORE: 7 things to know about the 30-hour hostage standoff in Liberty Twp.

“This was not a home invasion, this was a ‘come on in,’” Jones told this news organization today.

Once inside, Gazaway demanded cash, according to what the boy’s mother told officials.

“He demanded thousands,” Jones said.

According to the mother, she did not have that kind of money.

“There was an argument and she said he pulled out a gun,” Jones said.

Jones said statements from the mother about how she knew Gazaway are conflicting.

» READ MORE: Man in 30-hour police standoff released from prison in July

“She said (she knew him a) couple weeks and that he was a friend of the family,” Jones said.

But there is evidence Gazaway had stayed at the residence before.

“He pulled the gun and it appeared it was every man and women for themselves, except the child,” Jones said.

Gazaway remained in the residence with the boy until a police vehicle drove up to the door. Then he took the boy and fled to a car in the garage, where he remained until surrendering Sunday morning.

During the standoff, Gazaway raised the garage door up and down and turned the car lights on and off.

“And occasionally he shot at us,” Sheriff said.

About 20 shots were reported fired during the incident.

Jones said the mother was at the scene during most of the incident, “in an area sleeping with a blanket over her.”

The sheriff’s office will be recommending Butler County Children Services open a case concerning the family.

The boy was returned to his mother and taken to the hospital to be checked out. He is reportedly doing well, according to Jones.

Immediately after securing the boy, he was taken to a safe place and kept warm by deputies, who provided a coat and doughnuts.

An official at the scene described the boy as wearing “Snoopy” pajamas during the ordeal and being very interested in the box of doughnuts they provided, eating them as fast as he could.

Gazaway just got out of prison in July after serving four years for felonious assault in Hamilton County. He shot a gun into a crowd of 30 people at a party, according to court documents

Car thieves in Dayton rely on drivers’ poor choices

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

            Seven juvenile males were taken into custody in March 2016 as part of a multi-jurisdictional car-theft investigation. STAFF
Seven juvenile males were taken into custody in March 2016 as part of a multi-jurisdictional car-theft investigation. STAFF

Auto theft often is a crime of opportunity, and now that winter is here, thieves in Dayton will be given some golden opportunities by drivers who make bad decisions.

Since Oct. 1, there have been 88 grand theft auto reports in the West Patrol Operations Division, and 41 of the incidents involved a vehicle that was left running with the keys in the ignition, Dayton police Sgt. Creigee S. Coleman said.

“The best way to warm up your car is to go ahead and get in, dress for the weather, drive the vehicle, and it’ll warm up on its own,” Coleman said.

MORE: Dayton among cities named ‘fallen into decline’

Significantly fewer vehicles would go missing if people held onto their car keys.

One in eight vehicles stolen nationwide in 2015 had the keys or fob left inside, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“Puffing,” which is warming up a parked vehicle before hitting the road, is against the law in Ohio and drivers can be cited for violations.

But more importantly, people put themselves at significant risk of having their transportation stolen, meaning they lose their way to get around to important places like work and school, police said.

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“In this day and age, if people see a car running, they will jump in and they will take it,” Coleman said.

Nationally, January ranks as the worst month for “puffer thefts,” according to AAA.

Thieves can tell a vehicle is running by the puffs of smoke or exhaust coming from the back of parked vehicles.

No one likes climbing into a cold car. But it is better to be cold than to be car-less, and walking is a lot colder than driving.

Police say some residents who fire up their vehicles and then leave them unattended as they warm up often will return to find them missing.

Such cases of auto theft are very preventable but all too common, Coleman said.

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Some people also leave their vehicles running when they stop to shop at convenience stores, gas stations or other businesses, which is also a bad move, Coleman said. Dayton had 665 auto thefts last year.

Some vehicles are not insured against theft, and some insurance policies do not cover theft if the policyholder leaves the keys in an unattended vehicle.

NEW INFO: Bond set for husband accused of killing wife in Miami County

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018 @ 3:28 PM
Updated: Monday, January 15, 2018 @ 8:47 AM

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.

UPDATE @ 9:22 a.m. (Jan. 16):

Bond was set at $1.5 million for Randy Freels, 57, who is accused in the shooting death and crash involving his wife Samantha Freels, 52.

Randy Freels appeared for his initial arraignment via video in Miami County Municipal Court Tuesday.

UPDATE @ 8:40 a.m. (Jan. 15):

A man is charged with murder and other charges after deputies said he was involved in the shooting death and crash involving his wife Friday afternoon. 

Randy A. Freels, 57, was booked into the Miami County Jail after special response teams from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, Troy police and Piqua police took him into custody around 10:30 p.m. at his home on South Rangeline Road in Union Twp. 

>> Man found in Piqua home; police investigating circumstances as suspicious

Samantha Freels, 52, of Union Twp., was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest in in a vehicle that was crashed in a creek in the area of Ohio 55 and Elleman Road around 3 p.m. Friday. 

Deputies believe Samantha Freels was shot to death in her vehicle very close to where she crashed, officials said. Deputies also said a blue Dodge pickup registered to Randy Freels went off the road near the crash scene.

“While processing what we now believed was a crime scene we received information that…Randy A. Freels…had made comments that afternoon to a third party that he expected to be in some type of shoot-out with law enforcement,” Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said in a prepared statement. 

Duchak said the special response teams responded to the Freels’ residence on South Rangeline, where Randy Freels was taken into custody without incident. 

“We believe Mr. Freels to be a suspect and do not have any evidence to indicate there were others involved. As this is an active homicide investigation we are conferring daily with Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell and his staff,” Duchak said. 

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Randy Feels remained in the Miami County Jail Monday morning on charges of murder, leaving the scene of a crash and inducing panic, jail records showed. He’s expected to appear in court Tuesday. 

Search warrants were used to search both vehicles and the Freels’ home on South Rangeline.

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


“Samantha (Sam) was a talented, dedicated, and beloved member of our advertising team. We are incredibly saddened by this tragedy and our hearts and prayers go out to her family”, said Rob Rohr, Ohio Market Vice President and General Manager of Cox. 

Funeral services for Samantha Freels will be held Wednesday at Hale-Sarver Funeral Home, 284 N. Miami St., in West Milton at 10:30 a.m. The family also will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home Tuesday.

Anyone who may have been in the area of Ohio 55 and Elleman Friday between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and may have seen or heard anything is asked to contact the Miami County Sheriff’s Office at 937-440-9911.

UPDATE @ 3:45 p.m.

Randy Albert Freels, 57, is charged with murder in the death of his wife, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office said.

The body of 52-year-old Samantha Freels was found inside a car Friday afternoon that crashed into a creek on Ohio 55. Freels died of a gunshot wound to the chest, deputies said.

Randy Freels has been held at the Miami County Jail since Friday night.

UPDATE @ 1:55 p.m.

A 52-year-old Ludlow Falls woman found dead inside a car Friday afternoon died of a single gunshot to the chest, according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.

Samantha Freels’ husband, 57-year-old Randy Albert Freels, has been held in the Miami County Jail since Friday night on two misdemeanor charges of inducing panic and for a hit-and-run crash.

>> Man found in Piqua home; police investigating circumstances as suspicious

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

“Samantha (Sam) was a talented, dedicated, and beloved member of our advertising team. We are incredibly saddened by this tragedy and our hearts and prayers go out to her family”, said Rob Rohr, Ohio Market Vice President and General Manager of Cox. 

Person of interest in custody in death of woman found at Ohio 55 crash scene


Crews were dispatched around 3:10 p.m. Friday to Ohio 55 at Elleman Road around on reports of a vehicle that crashed into a creek. Evidence at the scene, however, led officials to believe Freels’ death was suspicious and more than just a crash.

The Miami County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team, along with SRTs from the Troy and Piqua police departments, went to her home on Rangeline Road, where Randy Freels was found and taken into custody without incident. 

Further investigation revealed Freels was shot to death. 

Randy Freels’ charges may change pending autopsy results, officials said.

Report: Local theft victim believes suspect is posing as driveway shoveler

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:16 AM

An Amazon package theft on Monday afternoon has prompted the victim to believe there is a person following mail trucks to commit thefts according to a Dayton Police report. 

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The package was stolen from a residence in the 100 block of High Street and according to the victim the package contained two computer cables. 


The neighborhood where the theft occurred has a google account set up to communicate safety information and they believe the suspect is acting like he wants to shovel residences before he steals packages. 

If you have any more information on this theft you are asked to call Dayton Police at 937-333-2677.