Warren County teens ranked No. 2 in Ohio for most crashes

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 1:27 PM


            A memorial in Warren County is dedicated to Noah Theiss, 17, who died in a crash in May on Springboro Road. STAFF
A memorial in Warren County is dedicated to Noah Theiss, 17, who died in a crash in May on Springboro Road. STAFF

Ohio had 140,031 teen-related vehicle crashes in past three years, and 3,316 were in Warren County, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

MORE: Teens may see major changes to driving laws in Ohio

That means 22 percent of all Warren County crashes involved teen drivers, the second-highest rate in Ohio, according to Matt Bruning, ODOT spokesman. Only Holmes County in northeast Ohio, with a rate of 23.3 percent, ranked higher.

Teens account for 5 percent of Ohio drivers but are involved in 15 percent of the crashes, Bruning said.

MORE: 15-year-old driving at time of fatal crash

The number one reason teens crash is their lack of experience, according to ODOT.

Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations, ODOT said.

Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.

MORE: 3 Bellbrook students remembered after fatal crash

As part of events planned during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct.15 - Oct. 21, students at Kings High School will hear from Brock Dietrich with Impact Teen Drivers on Friday, Oct. 20.

His daughter, Sydnee Dietrich, 17, of Gahanna, died on Oct. 20, 2013, after a crash in which she was texting while driving. She was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.

MORE: Clark County teen killed in crash remembered in vigil

Also during the Kings school event, scheduled from 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Friday, the students will have a chance to use ODOT’s distracted driver simulator and participate in other activities to highlight the need to pay attention and buckle up while driving.

The school is at 5500 Columbia Road in Kings Mills in Warren County.

Woman shot, killed at Mississippi Walmart by on-again, off-again boyfriend, police say

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend Shoots, Kills Woman At Walmart

A man is facing a capital murder charge after Starkville police accused him of shooting and killing a woman described as his “on-again, off-again” girlfriend at a Mississippi Walmart where she worked as an optometrist, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Walmart in Starkville. Police Chief Frank Nichols said a man fired several shots after walking into the store and confronting a woman, identified as Walmart Vision Center employee Shauna Witt, 42, the Starkville Daily News reported.

No other injuries were reported.

Witt was taken to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries, police said.

Police said they confronted a man at the scene of the shooting and detained him after a brief struggle. The man, identified as William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm, was arrested and charged with capital murder.

Investigators believe the shooting was the result of a domestic situation. According to witnesses, Chisholm and Witt were in an on-again, off-again dating relationship.

SPD Press Conference - Walmart Shooting Incident

Posted by Starkville Police Department on Saturday, January 13, 2018

After the shooting, Justin Blaylock, who said he knew Witt for nearly two decades, described her as “a generous, kind soul,” the Daily News reported.

“She will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “(She was) just a genuine friend that cared at all times and was willing to lend a hand at any time.”

At the time of the killing, police said, Chisholm was out on felony bond for an incident related to the victim.

Police continue to investigate the shooting.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Girl convicted of killing friend after Facebook selfie shows her wearing murder weapon 

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:34 PM

Police See Murder Weapon in Facebook Profile Pic, Arrest Friend

A Facebook selfie with her best friend helped put a Canadian girl in prison after investigators spotted her in the photo wearing a belt she used later that night to kill the other teen.

Cheyenne Rose Antoine, 21, of Saskatoon, pleaded guilty to manslaughter Monday in the March 25, 2015 strangulation death of Brittney Jane Gargol. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.

CBC News reported that Antoine and Gargol, 18, were out partying together the night of the slaying. Gargol was found several hours later, mortally wounded, along the side of a road on the outskirts of Saskatoon near the city landfill. 

The man who found her told police she was cold to the touch, had no shoes on and that there was a belt lying near her body. Gargol died a short time later at a hospital. 

It took days to identify her, a task accomplished after police made public photos of her tattoos, along with images of the jacket and broken watch that were found on her body, CKOM in Saskatoon reported

Antoine initially told police that she and Gargol had gone to several bars before Gargol met a man at one of them and left with him. Investigators said she attempted to lead them on the wrong path by posting on Gargol’s Facebook page several hours after she killed her. 

“Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe,” Antoine wrote, according to the Toronto Sun

She continued to post on Gargol’s page in the months after the homicide, including on a photo that Gargol posted of the pair just hours before she was slain. The victim made the photo, seen below, her profile picture shortly before she died. 


Posted by Dionisio Valentin Cerna Velasquez on Thursday, January 18, 2018

“Aweh, I miss you soo much, Bert! Wish heaven had visiting hours so I could come see you, but I'm so glad you came & visited me in my dream last night,” Antoine’s comment read, according to CBC News. “Looking forward to that day I see you again. Say hello to my mommy up there for me!”

Police investigators worked the case for nearly two years, using social media to create a timeline for Antoine and Gargol’s movements the night of the slaying. It was that last profile photo on Gargol’s page, however, that proved to be the break they needed.

Detectives noticed that Antoine wore a distinctive black belt, visible around her waist in the bottom left corner of the selfie that she and Gargol took together the night of the killing. The belt in the photo was the one found near Gargol’s dying body, CBC News reported.

The photo remained as Gargol’s profile picture for more than a year after her death. It has since been changed by her family. 

With a suspect in their sights, investigators were able to tear apart Antoine’s story about the pair bar-hopping the night of the crime by obtaining surveillance video from at least one bar that failed to show the girls where Antoine said they were. Another break came when a tip led police to a friend of Antoine’s, who told detectives that a panicked Antoine showed up at her house the night of the murder.

Antoine confessed to the friend that night that after getting into a drunken argument with Gargol, she hit her and then strangled her, CBC News said

She was arrested on suspicion of murder in March of last year. 

A plea deal between prosecutors and the defense brought the charge down to one of manslaughter. 

Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter praised the police work that ultimately led to Antoine’s arrest. 

“It’s quite remarkable how the police developed this information,” Ritter said. 

>> Read more trending news

Antoine admitted in court Monday that she killed her friend, but said she does not remember doing so. Her lawyer, Lisa Watson, told the court that Antoine, who suffered years of abuse in the foster care system, had been dealing with serious personal problems prior to the homicide. 

“My client had some very deep, personal issues that she was dealing with, and unfortunately, they turned into a very tragic situation for all involved,” Watson said, according to the Sun

Antoine’s troubled past, which began when she became a ward of the province of Saskatchewan at age 2, factored into her plea deal and sentence. CKOM reported that Antoine was in foster care at age 4 and spent a decade suffering physical and emotional abuse. 

Her criminal record began with car theft at age 12, two years before she reconnected with her mother, the station reported. She was exposed to heavy drug and alcohol use by her mother, who died about a year after being reunited with her daughter. 

At that point, she began moving between relatives, group homes and other institutions.

Ritter agreed with the defense that Antoine has serious personal issues. 

“This young woman has issues, and because of those issues, she is dangerous,” Ritter said, according to CKOM.

Those issues continued even after Antoine killed her friend. She was reported missing in August 2016 to Saskatoon police officials, who sought information on her whereabouts on Facebook.

At the time of her arrest for murder, Antoine was also awaiting sentencing for threatening a store’s loss prevention officer when she was caught stealing, CBC News reported. She threatened the officer with a needle that she claimed was contaminated with the HIV virus.   

Antoine issued a statement through her attorney Monday in which she said she cannot provide the answers she knows Gargol’s family members are looking for.

“She knows the family would like an explanation, a reason, but unfortunately, she can’t provide that,” Watson said. 

Gargol’s family provided victim impact statements during Antoine’s sentencing.

“Most days we can’t stop thinking about Brittney and what happened that night,” her aunt, Jennifer Gargol, said, according to CBC News. “What she must have felt fighting for her life.”

Gargol’s stepmother, Kristi Wickenhauser, also spoke in court, according to CKOM.

“You were her friend. She loved you, she respected you and she trusted you,” Wickenhauser said. “And instead you decided to wrap a belt around her throat and squeeze until you ended her life.”

Antoine apologized to Gargol’s family in the statement read by Watson.

“I will never forgive myself,” she said. “Nothing I say or do will ever bring her back. I am very, very sorry. It shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Dayton officer: ‘I bleed just like you’

Published: Friday, July 08, 2016 @ 7:16 PM
Updated: Friday, July 08, 2016 @ 7:16 PM

Dayton officer speaks about police community relations

Twenty-four-year-old Dayton Police officer Jermar Rayford offered to his God and Facebook a prayer of desperation.

“I pray to God that I don’t become a victim,” he said in a video. “And I pray to God that none of the others become a victim.”

>> WATCH THE VIDEO

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Rayford, a black male, said he experienced discrimination by police when he was growing up. His response was to become an officer. “I did this job to be the change in my community,” he said.

His post came eight hours before the slaughter in Dallas, where bullets rained Thursday, piercing 12 unassuming police officers and killing five in the deadliest day for law enforcement since September 11, 2001.

“The minute you start threatening to take our lives will be the day you start killing innocent people trying to make a change in the world,” Rayford said. “I am one of those officers who take pride in my job. I love my job. I am here to serve and protect my community.”

“I wear clothes just like you,” he said. “I bleed just like you.”

And more blood was shed: In Bristol, Tenn., on Thursday, and in suburban St. Louis, Mo., Friday, where an officer took three bullets in the back during a traffic stop. Then in Georgia, where a man allegedly called 911, reported a break-in, and loaded gunfire upon the responding officer.

Bloodshed upon bloodshed in the wake of two officer-involved shootings of black males in Louisiana and Minnesota; the latest in a string going back years.

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And a familiar, common outcry among police and citizens in the Miami Valley and much of the nation: Such carnage cannot continue.

“The violence has to stop,” said Beavercreek Police Chief Dennis Evers. “And I think that we need to just take a step back – everyone.”

“Officers that were out there protecting the public’s right to protest and free speech were ambushed and shot down,” he said. “It’s unfathomable that these events are taking place in our country.”

In the same breath, Evers acknowledges the frustration and anger experienced after officer-involved shootings like the one in his own jurisdiction. It was August 2014 when Beavercreek officers shot and killed John Crawford III in a Walmart. Crawford, who was black, carried an air rifle he picked up from a store shelf when he was shot.

“The police-involved shootings I understand – just as in our situation – people have questions and they have concerns,” Evers said. “But they can’t translate into violent reactions.”

Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward recalls waiting anxiously as a child for his father, a police officer, to return home after shift.

As an adult, he said that officers who wrongfully kill must be held accountable. Speaking from the local headquarters, he recited the names of victims in police-involved shootings across the nation.

“When is there going to be justice?” Foward asked. “When is there going to be a guilty verdict?”

For change to come, he said, other law enforcement agencies need to follow the example of Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, who last year fired two deputies for racially-charged text messages.

“That’s when our nation will start to heal,” he said. “That’s when our nation will start to change.”

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly seems to agree.

“If you have individuals who act inappropriately or do not follow our code of conduct or oath of office, then they should not be in law enforcement,” Kelly said. “I think that’s what’s happening across America … There are people who should not be law enforcement officers, and it’s our job to weed them out and remove them.”

Kelly attended a meeting with law enforcement leaders from across the U.S. just one week ago in Washington, D.C. that focused on how to improve training and build relationships with local community members.

“Everybody felt really good leaving there that so much has been accomplished,” Kelly said. “But when something like what’s happened this week in Louisiana and Minnesota and now in Dallas, it’s really going to challenge law enforcement.”

It challenged the conscience of the Miami Valley, too. In interviews, the general public struggled with finding the right answers.

Some people, like in Huber Heights, took food or cards to show support for local police departments. Others tried to make sense of it all.

“I think it’s horrible, I’m scared to get anybody mad,” said Donna McMann. “I look around in restaurants. I’m just scared to go anywhere anymore. I don’t think it’s right that everybody’s allowed to carry a gun.”

Added Pat Newcomb, “Mostly I think we have to work for peace, we have to work to diffuse the hate language, and we have to break through these barriers, the unconscious and subconscious racism that’s driving all this original problem … I’m sad for the policemen, I’m sad for the young men in Louisiana and Minnesota and their families.”

America is a great country, said Mike Frey, “but we’ve gone backwards a lot. I don’t think we have a race issue, I think we have an attitude issue.”

But it is a race issue, according to Patrick Oliver, associate professor of criminal justice at Cedarville University and former chief of police in Fairborn, Grandview Heights and Cleveland.

“Segments of the minority community believe that they don’t have the same equity as members of the majority community,” said Oliver. “And when that occurs, nobody is safe. The community members aren’t safe and the police aren’t safe.”

To respond, police departments are adjusting as best they can by using the techniques most basic to the profession.

“This tragic event in Dallas serves as a reminder that we should never become complacent and be vigilant at all times,” wrote Lebanon Police Chief Jeffrey Mitchell in an email to his officers. “We must train, exercise, and perform at optimal levels of physical fitness, mental preparedness, professional knowledge, and situational awareness, to carry out our professional responsibilities.”

In Kettering, a similar mission holds true.

“The message we give to our officers, and we give this every day, is be vigilant, be safe, and watch out for your fellow officers while they’re protecting the public,” said Kettering Police Department Capt. Mark Burian. “The officer vigilance level does increase, and we want them to be aware of their surroundings.”

Maintaining awareness among citizenry, too, is a must, said Bob Chabali, a retired SWAT commander for the Dayton Police Department and a board member for the National Tactical Officers Association.

“Be vigilant,” he said. “If you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something.

“We’re just in that time,” he said. “You have to be very, very vigilant as to what’s going on today.”

Staff Writers Matt Sanctis, John Bedell, Lauren Clark and Lawrence Budd contributed reporting.

Male shot in leg in Dayton, police searching for suspect

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:17 PM

Shooting on Edison Street

Update@4:44 p.m.:

The incident occurred as a group of juvenile males were walking east on Edison Street. When they got to Ardmore Avenue, a blue SUV showed up and fired shots, striking one of the males in the leg, police said. 

The victim was taken to Miami Valley Hospital for treatment.

First report:

Police are searching for suspects after an 18-year-old male was shot in the leg at the intersection of Edison Street  and Ardmore Avenue late Thursday afternoon. 

The unidentified victim suffered non-life threatening injuries, police said. 

Officer have blocked off Edison Street  and Ardmore Avenue to collect evidence. 

No further information was immediately available.