breaking news


Girl, 13, identified as victim in Sunday shooting

Published: Sunday, February 24, 2013 @ 3:05 PM
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 @ 1:21 PM


            Dameon Lareese Wesley, 39, is suspected of killing Briona Rodgers, 13, at 2512 Home Ave. According to family members, Wesley is the ex-boyfriend of Briona’s mother, DaWan Culpepper.

A Dayton teenager died and her cousin was critically wounded when a man opened fire in the teen’s home Sunday, and police are hunting for him today.

Dameon Lareese Wesley, 39, is suspected of killing Briona Rodgers, 13, at 2512 Home Ave. According to family members, Wesley is the ex-boyfriend of Briona’s mother, Dawan Culpepper.

Alonta Culpepper, Briona’s cousin, was in critical condition Sunday night.

Detectives have not said what led the suspect to shoot the girls. Dawan’s aunt, Tonya Horton, said she was in the home next door when the shooting happened and believes Dawan and Wesley got into an argument prior to the shooting.

Briona Rodgers was an eighth-grader at City Day Community School. A few

web pages have been launched to memorialize her.

This afternoon, police are still looking for Wesley. He was recently released from prison after serving nearly two decades for murder.

Wesley is described as a large black man, weighing 550 pounds and standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall. It is believed he was driving a tan Chevy Suburban with temporary tags.

According to Dayton Daily News and WHIO archives, Wesley pleaded guilty to murdering his former roommate, Marvin Williams Jr. He was given his prison sentence in April 1994.

Wesley and Williams, then age 19, had been roommates on West Riverview Avenue. In that case, the two argued, and Wesley went to another room, got a handgun and returned. Reports indicate he held Williams in a headlock and shot him twice.

Wesley is currently on parole after serving 18 years for the murder. As of this morning, he had not been located.

Marvin Williams’ mother told WHIO and the Dayton Daily News she went to the parole board during a hearing in August and asked them not to release Wesley.

“My son Eric and I asked the parole board to keep him in prison during that hearing and were told he was a model prisoner,” said Gwendolyn Williams. “We are very upset,” she said of her family.

The Home Avenue homicide is the sixth in Dayton in one week.

Briona Rodgers’ relative also shot, killed

In December, a relative of Briona Rodgers was shot and killed, according to Horton. Records reveal Frederick M. Rodgers Jr. was 27 when he was shot to death in an apartment in early December 2012.

No suspect was identified in that shooting, though two men were seen leaving the neighborhood in a full-size SUV, possibly a Chevy Suburban.

Police said Frederick Rodgers, whom Horton called “Michael,” was found in the living room of his home at 3545 Dorham Place shot “multiple times.”

There was no sign of forced entry, and Rodgers appeared to live alone.

Shell casings were found inside and outside the apartment, where several people - including the victim’s family - gathered soon after the incident at the two-story, multi-family residence in the Wesleyan Hill neighborhood.

The information about the two men came from witnesses, who were being interviewed the night of the shooting.

Corrections officer sentenced to one year in prison for selling cell phones to inmates

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 8:33 AM

Michael Rose Jr.

UPDATED: 11:37 a.m. today 

 

Saying a “message needs to be sent” to law enforcement, U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice sentenced Michael Rose Jr. to one year in prison after Rose pleaded guilty to selling cell phones to Montgomery County Jail inmates. 

 

Rice delayed imposition of the sentence until October so Rose can remain employed as a truck driver and Rose’s children are back in school. Prosecutors asked Rice to reconsider Rose’s delay of imposing the sentence. Rice declined to reconsider. 

 

UPDATED: 8:35 a.m. today

The former Montgomery County Jail corrections officer convicted of providing inmates with cell phones will be sentenced this morning in Dayton’s U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors want Michael Rose Jr., 29, to serve longer than the 6 months suggested in pre-sentence report, according to a sentencing memorandum.

EARLIER: Corrections officer pleads guilty to providing cell phones to inmates

The advisory, non-binding sentencing range calculated for Rose was 12 to 18 months. Prosecutors want U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice to put Rose behind bars for that length of time because he “violated the trust that those whom he guarded and the public had placed in him.”

Rose pleaded guilty by bill of information in February to attempted extortion under color of official right. He was accused of providing multiple cell phones to inmates to conduct heroin trafficking in exchange for money.

RELATED: Corrections officer had money issues

The statutory sentencing range for the charge is from zero to 20 years and fines of up to $250,000.

“He undermined the reason that most of those individuals were in his custody — to prevent their further criminal activity and to protect the public from their illegal conduct,” assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi wrote. “His actions contributed to the public’s ever-eroding faith in the ability of government employees to perform their jobs honestly, expeditiously, and without self-interest.”

SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow Mark Gokavi on Twitter or Facebook

An affidavit written by Frederick Zollers, a member of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and a task force member, alleged that Rose, who started working at the Montgomery County Jail in April 2016, provided a cell phone to an inmate in exchange for $5,000 cash.

That federal inmate, according to Zollers, used the telephone to conduct drug transactions while incarcerated. “Imposition of a significant sentence in this case will force the next public employee to reconsider his or her potential misconduct,” Tabacchi wrote.

Investigators digging to recover body of missing woman

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Authorities are in Troy this morning in hopes of getting answers about a woman who went missing nearly seven years ago.

Cold Case File: Still no trace of missing pregnant woman

Nikki Lyn Forrest, 19, was four months pregnant when she disappeared in September 2010. 

Investigators have new information in the cold case that has sent them to a backyard of a home in the 1400 block of Croydon Road in Troy. The police activity is visible from North Dorset Road near West Main Street.

Cold case detective joins search for woman who vanished while pregnant

A white tent is up and authorities tell us they are digging in hopes of recovering Nikki Lyn Forrest’s body.

Investigators are also digging in the garage.

Cadaver dogs are on scene with police from Piqua and Troy.

Investigators have been at the property before as part of the investigation. It is the former home of Nikki Lyn Forrest’s boyfriend, who was named as a suspect in her disappearance.

VIDEO: 4 Miami Valley cold cases

RELATED: 5 area missing persons cases that continue to be mysteries

We’re working to gather more details and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Issue 1 would change how legislative lines are drawn

Published: Sunday, October 11, 2015 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 11, 2015 @ 12:00 AM

Voters and polling workers at the Butler County Board of Elections, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. CHELSEY LEVINGSTON / STAFF

Complete election coverage

 

State Issue 1 — Proposed Constitutional Amendment

 
     
  • New Ohio Redistricting Commission would have 7 members: Ohio governor, secretary of state, state auditor and four legislative appointees ,including at least two from the minority party.
  •  
 
     
  • Eliminates current 5-member board that decides by a simple majority.
  •  
 
     
  • Two minority party votes needed to create 10-year map, otherwise map is for 4 years.
  •  
 
     
  • First redistricting will be in 2021.
  •  
 
     
  • Sets rules encouraging that districts be more compact and competitive.
  •  
 
     
  • Requires that the commission meet and display maps in public and explain plan in writing.
  •  
 
     
  • Ohio Supreme Court can force maps to be redrawn if rules are violated.
  •  
 
     
  • Does not address how Ohio Legislature sets boundaries for U.S. Congressional seats.
  •  
 

 

 

Ohio is considered to be about 50-50 Democrat and Republican but the partisan makeup of the state’s 99 Ohio House of Representative districts and 33 Ohio Senate districts looks very different from that. Most districts are far from 50-50 in their partisan political index, which measures the number of voters favoring each major political party in the district.

 

Republicans have the advantage in 62 of 99 House districts and 23 Senate districts, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of data collected by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (OCAD). Only 20 House districts and seven Senate districts have a partisan index difference of 10 percentage points or less, the analysis showed.

 

The data is based on voting history in the 2008 presidential election and 2010 election for governor, auditor and secretary of state. While more recent election results may have changed the index somewhat in legislative districts, the OCAD index reflects the partisan makeup of the districts when the Ohio Apportionment Board redrew the maps in 2011.

 

Those legislative boundaries will remain in effect until the lines are redrawn in 2021.

 

The way those lines are drawn will change if voters approve State Issue 1 on Nov. 3. The proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution would reform the state legislative redistricting process and supporters say it would help make the districts more fairly representative of voters of all political stripes.

 

The maps below show the current legislative districts and the percentage of Democrats and Republicans in each district.

 

State Issue 1 — Proposed Constitutional Amendment

 
     
  • New Ohio Redistricting Commission would have 7 members: Ohio governor, secretary of state, state auditor and four legislative appointees ,including at least two from the minority party.
  •  
 
     
  • Eliminates current 5-member board that decides by a simple majority.
  •  
 
     
  • Two minority party votes needed to create 10-year map, otherwise map is for 4 years.
  •  
 
     
  • First redistricting will be in 2021.
  •  
 
     
  • Sets rules encouraging that districts be more compact and competitive.
  •  
 
     
  • Requires that the commission meet and display maps in public and explain plan in writing.
  •  
 
     
  • Ohio Supreme Court can force maps to be redrawn if rules are violated.
  •  
 
     
  • Does not address how Ohio Legislature sets boundaries for U.S. Congressional seats.
  •  
 

 

 

Ohio’s population is considered to be about 50-50, Democrat and Republican, but the partisan makeup of the state’s 99 House of Representative districts and 33 Senate districts looks very different from that.

 

Most districts are far from 50-50 in their partisan political index, which measures the number of voters favoring each major political party in a district.

 

Republicans have the numerical advantage in 62 of 99 House districts and 23 Senate districts, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of data collected by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (OCAD). Only 20 House districts and seven Senate districts have a partisan index difference of 10 percentage points or less, the analysis showed.

 

The data is based on voting history in the 2008 presidential election and 2010 election for governor, auditor and secretary of state. While more recent election results may have changed the index somewhat in legislative districts, the OCAD index reflects the partisan makeup of the districts when the Ohio Apportionment Board redrew maps in 2011.

 

Those legislative boundaries will remain in effect until the lines are redrawn in 2021.

 

The way those lines are drawn will change if voters approve State Issue 1 on Nov. 3. The proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution would reform the state legislative redistricting process and supporters say it would help make the districts more fairly representative of voters of all political stripes.

 

The maps below show the current legislative districts and the percentage of Democrats and Republicans in each district.

Voters will have a chance to change the way politicians draw state legislative district lines when they consider State Issue 1 on November 3.

 

“The drawing of the lines is the single most significant factor in determining who wins,” said former State Rep. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat who with former state Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, is co-chairing the Fair Districts for Ohio campaign promoting State Issue 1.

 

Supporters say the proposed constitutional amendment would upend what has been a largely partisan exercise that allows the party in power to create districts packed with its supporters while marginalizing supporters of the minority party.

 

Lines are redrawn for the Ohio Legislature every 10 years to reflect population shifts.

 

Previous efforts to reform the process have failed, typically with the party in power opposing any change. Voters have soundly rejected constitutional amendments reforming the process three times, most recently in 2012.

 

Issue 1 is unique in that it has bipartisan support and has no organized opposition.

 

“Of all the things I think the Democrats are dead wrong on I finally have found something I can agree with them on. We should pass Issue 1,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

 

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he wishes the proposal would take effect immediately rather than 2021 when the next redistricting occurs, because the current districts so clearly favor Republicans “there is almost no competition.”

 

Widespread support

 

Common Cause and the League of Women Voters are among nearly 100 organizations and political parties that have endorsed the amendment. It was placed on the ballot by the Ohio Legislature in a strongly bipartisan vote last year and is supported by some of the very groups that opposed the state legislative and congressional redistricting reform proposal that voters rejected in 2012.

 

“From a good government standpoint it will create better, more competitive races, which we hope in turn will lead to better leaders elected,” said Phil Parker, president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. “The way it’s been redistricted in the past has not necessarily allowed us to have good, competitive races.”

 

Truly competitive races for state legislative seats become less likely when boundary lines are drawn to favor one party, a process known as “gerrymandering,” said Catherine Turcer, of Common Cause Ohio.

 

“When the map-makers have more of an impact on an election than the voters do there is definitely something wrong,” Turcer said. “I think people want good, representational democracy.”

 

Critics of the current process say that drawing districts favoring one party can lead to more ideologically extreme candidates winning.

 

“When you have the more ideologically extreme folks from both sides you have a lot of difficulty coming up with sensible solutions that suit the middle, which is most of us,” Turcer said.

 

Federal law requires that districts be as equal in population as possible, that all parts of a district be contiguous, and that districts not dilute minority voting strength or discriminate against voters based on race or ethnicity, according to the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

 

But there is no law against packing a district with a single political party’s supporters, dividing supporters of one party into several different districts or drawing a district’s lines to reach out to an area distant from the rest in order to pull in certain partisan supporters.

 

Issue 1 would put into the state Constitution rules that encourage creation of districts that are politically competitive and drawn as compactly as possible with a goal of not breaking up communities.

 

“It’s a common sense proposal that fair districts equal fair elections,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

 

More voices

 

A seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission — made up of the governor, secretary of state, auditor and two legislative appointees from each political party — could approve a 10-year map only with the votes of two minority party members. If enough minority party members don’t sign on, the map would only be in place for four years before a new commission would redraw lines.

 

“So this concept keeps majority rule, but it creates additional minority party rights where there were almost none before,” Huffman said.

 

The commission’s work would have to be transparent, unlike the closed meetings that led to the 2011 maps. Meetings would have to be public, the maps publicly displayed and a letter produced explaining any plan adopted by a simple majority vote. If the board breaks the rules, the Ohio Supreme Court could order the map redrawn.

 

“It makes it more difficult for the majority to cut-and-paste the districts the way they want,” Sykes said.

 

Issue 1 would have no impact on the drawing of Congressional district lines, which is done by the state legislature and has generated even greater partisan furor. Leaving Congressional redistricting reform out of the amendment “eliminated a lot of opposition,” said Sykes.

 

“We decided not to bite off too much and get choked on it,” he said.

 

Davis, Turcer and Secretary of State Jon Husted all said the next step is reforming Congressional redistricting.

 

State legislative lines currently are drawn by the five-member state Apportionment Board, made up of the same mix of officials as the proposed new commission, except without two of the legislative appointees.

 

The most recent redistricting was in 2011. Board members were Gov. John Kasich, Husted, Auditor of State David Yost and then-Ohio Senate President Thomas Niehaus, all Republicans. Then-House Minority Leader Armond Budish was the only Democrat on the board.

 

The districts they drew favored Republicans in 23 of 33 Senate districts and 62 of 99 House districts, according to statistics compiled by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, which used voting results from the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 governor, auditor and secretary of state elections.

 

The percentage of voters from each major political party in a certain district is called the partisan political index. The 2012 and 2014 results could show some changes in the current political index, but the one using those earlier elections was in play when the Ohio Reapportionment Board drew the lines amid massive partisan controversy in 2011.

 

At the time, Budish issued a statement saying the Republican maps “take partisan gerrymandering to a new extreme” and “quarantined” Democratic voters into a third of the districts.

 

“These new districts divide communities more than 250 times and disenfranchise voters throughout the state,” Budish said.

 

The Ohio Supreme Court later found the new maps to be constitutional.

 

Unbalanced districts

 

An analysis of the partisan index of the legislative districts by this newspaper found that the 12 House districts and four Senate districts with the highest percentage difference between the number of Democrats and Republicans all tilted Democratic and are held by Democratic legislators. All are in urban areas.

 

District 10 held by state Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, ranked first with Democrats favored by 74.3 percentage points. State Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, represents District 25 near Cleveland, in which Democrats have a 66.8 percentage-point advantage.

 

Republicans have the wide advantage in far more districts. State Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, has the Republican district with the largest advantage — 46.3 percentage points over Democrats. Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, in District 12, has widest Senate Republican advantage — 36.4 percentage points.

 

Only 20 House districts and seven Senate districts have a partisan index difference of 10 percentage points or less, the analysis showed.

 

Those numbers do not reflect the reality in Ohio statewide, which Husted said is about evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

 

The League of Women Voters of Ohio used the political index to accurately call 100 percent of the Ohio Senate races in 2012 and 2014. The group used the index to accurately predict all but three House races in 2014 and all but two in 2012.

 

That leads to cynicism and lack of interest in voting, said Susan Hesselgesser, executive director of the League of Women Voters of the Greater Dayton Area.

 

“People are sort of fed up and don’t feel like they are getting a fair shake,” Hesselgesser said.

 

No one is under the illusion that Issue 1 would end partisanship in the drawing of districts.

 

“If we think this is the perfect solution we are being naive,” said Paul Leonard, a political science professor at Wright State University, former Dayton mayor and former Democratic state legislator who supports Issue I. “You just can’t take politics out of the redistricting process.”’

 

Husted said there will be practical realities to consider when the map drawers do their work.

 

“In the end, this doesn’t mean that every district is going to be 50-50 because that is not how people live,” Husted said. “We tend to self-segregate ourselves. It’s hard to draw a Democratic district along the border with Indiana and it’s hard to draw a Republican district across northeast Ohio.”

 

However, Husted said, “broadly it will be more competitive” and he believes it will lead to a more evenly divided Ohio Legislature. He said Ohio would be one of the few states in the nation to reform its redistricting process in an effort to minimize partisanship.

 

Supporters said Issue 1 reforms would be better than the current system, which has been in place since 1967 after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964 threw out as unconstitutional Ohio’s practice of giving each county just one House representative regardless of population.

 
“This will create fairer districts, fairer elections,” Turcer said. ” Is this a magic wand? Definitely not. But it does significantly improve the power of our votes.”

Middletown police officer calls Officer of the Year ‘really special’

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 7:08 AM

Holly Owens believes she’s right where she belongs.

After graduating from Middletown High School in 1993, Owens was hired as a dispatcher for the Middletown Division of Police the following year. She was in that position for three years, then was hired as a Middletown police officer in July 1997.

Twenty years later, she’s still a police officer, while others hired during the same time have applied and received promotions. Owens said she enjoys being an officer because it allows her to interact with the community.

RELATED: Chief: Officers’ contributions can’t be ‘measured in words’

On Thursday, her dedication to the department was rewarded when she was named Police Officer of the Year during the department’s annual awards banquet at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Lodge 528. She was selected from four finalists, including Detectives Steve Winters and Jon Hoover and Officer Brook McDonald.

It was “a great honor” just to be nominated, Owens said. But winning was “really special,” she said.

Her father, Donnie Owens, was a police officer and lieutenant for 40 years and now works in the Civil Unit of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office; her husband, Denny Jordan is a Middletown police officer; and her daughter, Tyler Owens-Jordan recently was hired as a dispatcher for the BCSO.

Her husband and parents, Donnie and Norma Owens, attended the banquet and posed for pictures with her after the award was presented.

Owens, 42, also recruits for the department at police academies and colleges and “sells Middletown,” said Lt. David Birk, who was hired the same day as Owens. He said she has a great rapport with the community. Some officers excel at issuing speeding tickets or arresting OVI drivers, Birk said. Owens’ niche is community relations, her said.

He called her “a great resource” for the department and the community.

“She does a great job at everything she does,” Birk said.

That’s because Owens would rather be outside her cruiser talking to those on her beat, downtown and the South End. She enjoys handing out stickers to the kids and “straightening things out” if there’s a misunderstanding between the department and the community.

“Making police officers more human” is her goal, she said.

She said Middletown is blessed because the police department and residents have a great relationship, though there are “a few bad ones.”

When she confronts a possible criminal, Owens said she treats them “honest and fair,” and she expects the same respect. She said being a police officer in her hometown is more of a blessing than a curse. Because of her deep roots, she knows most people in the community, and sometimes that means arresting them.

“You have a job to do,” she said.

The department also presented medals of honor to Officers Denny Jordan, Marco Caito and Butler County Deputies Kent Hall and Reggie Bronnenberg for their work on Feb. 27, 2016 when an eighth-grader opened fire in the Madison Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria.

RELATED: Motive in Madison High School shooting revealed

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones delivered the keynote address at Thursday’s awards banquet.

Police Memorial Dinner Awards Banquet winners:

Officer of the Year: Officer Holly Owens

Dispatcher of the Year: Nallelyt Gopar

Corrections Officer of the Year: Heather Lakes

John D.Webster Reserve Officer of the Year: Chris Fugate

Meritorious Service: Officers Brandon Ramirez, Denny Jordan, Marco Caito, Tony Gibson, Sheoki Reece and Ryan Morgan

Unit Citation Awards: Officers Christine Sorrell, Ryan Morgan, Carl Jones, Kathy Jones, Connor Kirby, Jordan Wagers, Luke Agee, Adam Cox, Wayne Birch, Brandon Highley, Brandon Ramirez, Brook McDonald, Holly Owens, Detective Tom McIntosh, Detective Jon Hoover, Detective Vince Lovejoy, Lt. David Birk, Sgt. Andy Warrick, Sgt. Eric Crank, Sgt. Brad Carrozza, Sgt. Steve Ream, and Dispatchers Lynn Crank, Cyndi Peters and Tiffany Trusty

Combat Cross: Officers Carl Jones and Marco Caito

Medal of Honor: Officers Denny Jordan, Marco Caito and Butler County Deputies Kent Hall and Reggie Bronnenberg

Police Heart Awards: Officers Andrew Minic and Ken Mynhier

Outstanding Recognition Award: Dispatcher Tiffany Trusty

Safe Driver Award: Officer Tony Gibson

Patrol High Performers Certificates: Officers Sheoki Reece, Raqib Ahmed, Ryan Rogers, and Brandon Ramirez

Officer of the Year Nominees: Detective Steve Winters, Officer Brook McDonald, Officer Holly Owens, and Detective Jon Hoover

Citizen Service Awards: Hatem and Heather Shteiwi (Gold Star Chili) and Jill Cutter (Spikes Canine Fund), Heather Gibson (Triple Moon Coffee Cafe)

Community Foundation Scholarship Award Recipients: Ashley Deaton and Maddie Muterspaw

SOURCE: Middletown Division of Police