CLOSINGS AND DELAYS:

BSF Dayton Day Women, Care-A-Lot Preschool-Botkins, Central Christian Church-Kettering, Dayton Public Schools, Developmental Disabilities Clark Co., Greater Love Christian Church, Piqua Baptist Church, RT Industries, Rehab Center & Neuro Devel, S.H.I. Integrative Med. Massage Sc., Second Harvest Food Bank, Shelby Hills E.C.C, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Tipp Monroe Community Services,

Pike County murders: What’s really going on?

Published: Monday, April 17, 2017 @ 3:02 PM
Updated: Monday, April 17, 2017 @ 4:08 PM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Pike County Sheriff talked to the media Thursday morning and provided an update to the Rogan family deaths from 2016.

The largest criminal investigation in Ohio history has generated 800 tips, half as many police interviews and 38 search warrants. But nearly a year after the mass killings of eight family members in Pike County, no one has been arrested for the murders.

April 22 marks the one-year anniversary of the execution-style shootings, and our news crews have interviewed Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, neighbors and friends of the victims. They all say the case has taken a toll on the community and themselves.

MORE ON PIKE COUNTY
» APRIL 23, 2016: After murders, a rural town on edge
» APRIL 29, 2016: 'Cold-blooded calculated massacre': One week later in Pike County
» AUG. 8, 2016: Arrests needed in ‘tragically evil’ Pike Co. shootings, pastor says
» AUG. 24, 2016: Pike County shootings show “similarities” to Kentucky murders

“I think about this every morning, and it’s the last thing I think about every night,” Reader said.

“I see the look of disappointment when I speak with the family, and I look into their eyes and see the grieving they still have,” he said.

Reader said the anniversary could bring renewed attention to the case, meaning the potential for new tips and information for investigators.

» ABOUT THE VICTIMS: A closer look at the 8 who died

DeWine said that marijuana grow operations found at two of the four crime scenes might have hampered the investigation.

“This is a homicide investigation,” DeWine said. “It’s not that we don’t care what you’ve done with drugs — we care, but our focus is on the homicide, and so people should not be concerned about coming forward and disclosing information that may be helpful in the investigation that also incriminates themselves.”

MORE ON PIKE COUNTY 
» DEC. 5, 2016: Pike County killings captured the nation's attention 
» PHOTOS: Scenes from Pike County six months after a massacre 
» APRIL 11, 2017: Ohio covers funeral costs for Pike County murder victims 

A look at the southern Ohio case, by the numbers:

10-12 investigators working on the case in any given week.

800 tips received by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Pike County Sheriff’s Office.

400 interviews conducted by investigators, including multiple interviews of some individuals.

38 search warrants have been executed. 

4 different homes were crime scenes at which eight Rhoden family members were found shot to death, including wives, husbands, sons, daughters and fiancees.

3 children were spared by the killer or killers, one 3 years old, and two infants, one 6 months and a 4-day-old baby snuggled in bed next to a mother shot execution style.

3 marijuana grow sites were found at the homes of Kenneth Rhoden and Chris Rhoden Sr., both of whom were killed.

$10,000 reward is available and officials want to increase the amount, saying anyone interested in donating may call 1-855-BCI-OHIO.

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. 

LOCAL NEWS: Miamisburg man identified in fatal crash in West Carrollton

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 FREELS

“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

EARLIER REPORT

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. 

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

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. 

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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.