Hamilton murders dropped in 2017, but the news wasn’t as good with all crime in the city

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Prostitution, Drugs Afflict Lindenwald

The number of homicides in Hamilton last year tied for lowest since 2012, something Police Chief Craig Bucheit attributes to greater neighborhood engagement and his department’s determination to be more connected with citizens.

“Things are trending in the right direction,” said Bucheit, about the five deaths categorized as murders during 2017. That was down from 11 in 2016, and there were six in 2014 and seven in 2013. As with last year, 2015 also saw five killings.

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On the other hand, last year’s number was up from earlier in the decade, when there were two in 2010, and four apiece in 2011 and 2012, according to Hamilton police.

“I think it reflects our priorities here, and what we focused on, really aggressively targeting the people and the places that we know are contributing to the violent crime,” Bucheit said. “In the past three years, we’ve been able to shut down three of our most problematic establishments. You’ve got the J & J Bar (316 S. 3rd St.), Doubles, and Hard Times Bar (25 S. 7th St.). J and J’s closed. Doubles has been razed (formerly at 1555 Main St.).

“Those are all places that, if you look back at some of the history there, they were hot spots for crime, and particularly violent crime,” the chief added. “Focusing and coordinating our efforts to address those problem places, and then taking that same approach to the problem people.”

MORE: Doubles Bar, site of fatal summer shooting in Hamilton, was razed

After the fatal shooting of Marion A. Reed Sr. on Front Street in Hamilton in June, people created a makeshift memorial for the Hamilton resident, who was 39. GREG LYNCH / STAFF(Staff Writer)

In other major-crime statistics:

• Major sex offenses were up slightly, at 97, compared with 89 in 2016 and 93 in 2015.

• Police recorded 36 incidents listed as “kidnapping” — not the major types that drew SWAT teams, but most being reports of people being held against their will — compared with 10 in 2016 and 25 in 2015.

• There were 164 reports of motor vehicles being stolen, up from 128 in 2016 and 118 in 2015. Some of those were because of cars being loaned out, sometimes as pay for drugs, and the owners later not knowing where their vehicles were, the chief said.

• Hamilton had 125 aggravated assaults, up from 90 in 2016 and 106 in 2015.

• There were 116 robberies, compared with 110 in 2016 and 123 in 2015.

• Burglaries and breaking-and-entering incidents were at 724, down from 742 in 2016, but well up from 620 in 2015.

• Larceny and theft offenses held steady in 2017, with 1,928 reports, compared with 1,908 in 2016 and 1,960 in 2015.

MORE: Hamilton objects to Hard Times Bar liquor permit renewal

Bucheit also credits the Rev. Dennis Matheny, who lives on Parkamo Avenue, for inspiring other people to become engaged with their neighbors and report crimes or suspicious activities they see to the police. Matheny sat out along the street with a “No Drugs Today” sign to deter people from using what had become known in the area as “Heroin Alley.”

“I can tell you that we’ve seen it time and again, the best way to address these neighborhood in the community, working hand-in-hand with the neighbors,” Bucheit said. “One thing we’ve got going for us is people who care about this community. They’re willing to get involved, they’re willing to pick up the phone, they’re willing to come to a meeting to help us identify these problem places, and work to get them shut down and addressed.”

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The Rev. Suzanne LeVesconte, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in the impoverished North End neighborhood, said she hasn’t seen much crime around her church, but months after arrived at the church, there was a big drug bust at a problem house across the street.

“That building has been sold to another person, and has been upgraded, rehabbed,” she said. The building now is rented, “and we don’t seem to have any problems.”

“Now, I know that other neighborhoods in town, where we have some parishioners, are really tough,” she said. “There’s still a lot of selling of drugs going on night and day. So that hasn’t ended in town, by any means. Because I have some people who are in recovery who have a hard time as they’re stepping away from that, not being exposed to that, because of what their neighborhood is like.”

When German Village people get together for their neighborhood association’s monthly meetings, “Nine times out of 10, unless he’s on vacation or something, we have a police officer there,” said Sheryl Silber of Hamilton’s German Village Inc. and owner of Rezen Mind Body Spirit, a massage-therapy business.

“And one of the things we do is talk about what’s going on, what people are observing, what people are seeing or suspecting, and getting feedback from the police department on what they’re doing, and what they’re seeing, that we may not be aware of,” Silber said.

The neighborhood came together recently to eat at, and contribute to, Neal’s Famous BBQ, where vandals have broken large storefront windows three times in the past 13 months.

MORE: 5 things to know about Neal’s Famous BBQ

“In this particular case, someone said, ‘This is the third time their window has been broken. It is rotten,’” Silber said. “I guess that big plate glass is just too tempting, or something.”

The idea was to show, “We’re going to rally around the people in our area,” she said. A large crowd convened Wednesday to support the business.

Some of Hamilton’s annual homicide statistics differ from ones released previously by the department because of differences in two types of law-enforcement crime-statistics reporting: the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) and the National Incident-Based Reporting System (known as NIIBRS). The NIIBRS data include officer-involved deaths as homicides even when they are deemed to be justified.

Some other differences in data came after this media outlet inquired about differences in some annual homicide numbers. The department went back and found some officer-involved deaths, as well as one 2016 death that was initially an “unspecified death” and later determined to be a homicide.

LeVesconte said she is pleased a neighborhood group for the North End has reassembled, with lots of help from city officials and the 17Strong program that works to connect people in the city’s 17 neighborhoods with each other, city government, police and social-service agencies.

Bucheit’s takeaway: “For me, the issue that I saw that was most concerning was the violent crime, looking back, especially in 2016. That’s something that had been an increasing issue. I think that really peaked in 2016, as did our efforts to combat that, and I think the reduction you see in 2017 is a direct result of that.”

Hamilton homicides

2010: 2.

2011: 4.

2012: 4.

2013: 7.

2014: 6.

2015: 5.

2016: 11.

2017: 5.

Source: Hamilton police

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Teen held in slaying of Dayton mom in front of two kids

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:26 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 11:52 AM

Connected to Lorenz Avenue homicide

A 17-year-old male accused of fatally shooting a Dayton mother in front of two young children will remain in custody following a detention hearing Saturday morning. 

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The teen, who was arrested and placed in detention Friday, is suspected of killing 22-year-old Keyona Murray, who was shot in the head in a home on the 100 block of Lorenz Ave. in Dayton on Feb. 16. 

 Neighbors and a 911 caller who reported Murray’s shooting said the gunfire came from outside the home, in a back alley. 

 Murray, who died at Miami Valley Hospital, was shot in front of her 2-year-old child and her 2-year-old nephew. A candlelight vigil was held for her earlier this week outside the home where she was wounded. 

On Saturday, the teen suspect denied a charge of murder and felony burglary at hearing in Montgomery County Juvenile Court. 

Keyona Murray, shot and killed in an incident Feb. 16, 2018, at a home in the 100 block of Lorenz Avenue in Dayton. (Courtesy/Miami Valley Crime Stoppers)

The teen will appear in court for a preliminary conference on the morning of March 9 before Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi. Police said the suspect was taken into custody after being found at a residence on Gard Avenue in Dayton. 

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The suspect has a fairly lengthy criminal record , according to juvenile court officials. 

The suspect successfully completed about three months of probation on about Jan. 25 related to a misdemeanor theft charge in Greene County, juvenile court officials said.  

Court officials previously said he had been in trouble before on charges that include delinquency by reason of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. 

He served probation in 2013 related to an attempted burglary charge. In 2015, he was given probation again, with a suspended commitment to the state juvenile correctional system, after another burglary charge. Both charges were felonies.  

In addition to the murder charge, the suspect faces a pending felony-level burglary charge.  

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Janice Meadows, who has lived on Lorenz Avenue for 30 years, called 911 on Feb. 16 after hearing gunshots outside.  

“I knew the gunshots were close from how loud it was,” she said. “I thought someone was shooting toward my house — it sounded that close.”  

Meadows lives a couple doors down from where Murray was shot. Murray moved into the rental home around the end of summer, she said.  

“We’re really sorry we didn’t have time to get to know them,” she said. “It’s such a tragedy.” 

Meadows says it’s a safe neighborhood because the residents know each other and most have lived there for many years. 

Sometimes, she said, small groups of people hang out on the streets or corners, but neighbors will call the police if there’s too much activity. 

 “We’ll call because we’ve got children and grandchildren,” she said.

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Heavy rain moves out tonight but flood alerts continue

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 5:32 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:05 PM

Both strong winds and heavy rain are likely this evening in the Dayton area.

The heavy rain threat will come to an end overnight as the storm system moves to our east, but a few lingering showers will be possible through daybreak Sunday, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said. Temperatures will be steady in the middle to upper 40s overnight.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Flash Flood Warning until 2:15 a.m. for part of Warren County
  • Flood Watch until 10 a.m. Sunday for entire region
  • Flood Warning for parts of Greene and Warren counties along the Little Miami River
  • Along Great Miami River, Flood Warning from 11:18 p.m. to 7:32 p.m. Monday in Sidney in Shelby County; from 4:36 a.m. Sunday to 8:30 p.m. Monday near Middletown in Butler County

>> Weekend brings more rain, threat for strong storms

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist Brett Collar

>> Great Miami River expected to crest this weekend; where will flooding occur?

Sunday: A pre-dawn shower is possible early, but aside from that clouds will decrease to allow for some afternoon sunshine with highs in the lower 50s. It’s also going to be a windy day with winds gusting over 30 mph at times.

Severe Weather Threats(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar)

>> WHIO Live Doppler 7 HD Interactive Radar

Monday: Mostly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower to middle 50s.

Tuesday: We get back into the upper 50s with mostly sunny skies.

A Flood Watch is in effect until 10 a.m. Sunday for the entire region(Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar)

Wednesday: The chance for rain returns in the afternoon and evening. Highs will be in the upper 50s.

Thursday: Rain showers are expected with highs in the middle 50s.

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Swollen waterways prompt flood watch, warnings along Great Miami R, other spots

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 4:27 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:55 PM

Swollen waterways prompt flood watch, warnings along rivers

As a Flood Watch remains in effect for the southern Miami Valley counties through Sunday morning, creeks, streams and fields will likely flood, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini.

“Creeks and streams, if not already, will likely be out of their banks through the weekend,” she said. “Fields will also be flooded with the heavy rains that arrive Friday and Saturday.”

>> Kasich declares emergency over Ohio flooding

A Flood Warning is in effect through 5 p.m. Monday along the Little Miami River in parts of Greene and Warren counties. Along the Great Miami River, a Flood Warning goes into affect at 11:18 p.m. and lasts through 7:32 p.m. Monday in Shelby County; and from 4:36 a.m. Sunday to 8:30 p.m Monday in Butler County near Middletown.

There’s a lag between the heavy rain and water levels rising, which is why creeks, streams and rivers won’t recede until the start to the new week, Zontini said.

>> Flooding: Know your risks

The Great Miami River is expected to crest, or hit its highest levels, this weekend. 

In Troy, the Great Miami River is expected to crest at 13.6 feet Sunday, and in Dayton, the river is expected to crest, also Sunday, at 32.3 feet. And in Middletown, the Great Miami River is expected to crest at 12.4 feet Sunday.

The Stillwater River in Englewood is expected to crest Monday at 33.6 feet.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

When the river does crest, here are the areas that will see flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

ENGLEWOOD (Stillwater River)

  • 23 feet: Martindale Road, Old Springfield Road and the road to the MetroPark are all closed
  • 25 feet: Martindale Road, old Springfield Road and the road to the MetroPark are covered by 2 to 3 feet of water

DAYTON (Great Miami River)

  • 27.5 feetBike trail will be flooded
  • 30 feet: Flooding occurs near Rip Rap Road between Bridgewater and Little York roads near Huber Heights

SIDNEY (Great Miami River)

  • 10 feet: The river approaches the bank on the west side of Custenborder Field. At stages above 10 feet, city officials begin flood operations.
  • 11 feet: Custenborder Field has some flooding of perimeter areas, along with flooding occurring in low spots on Miami River Road
  • 12 feet: The river reaches the bank on Riverside Drive, with flooding of Custenborder Field at the east river intake. Homes and properties will experience flooding along the river on Riverside Drive from the BK Root Beer stand to the city limits
MIDDLETOWN (Great Miami River)
  • 11 feetSome flooding occurs on private property areas along either side of Ohio 73 from the east side of the river approaching Excello. Middletown is protected by levees and floodgates to 24 feet.

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Rare yellow cardinal a ‘one in a million’ gem for birdwatchers in Alabama

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:47 PM

A yellow cardinal.
Wikicommons
A yellow cardinal.(Wikicommons)

 

Birdwatchers and biologists have been on the lookout for a rare, yellow cardinal that’s been spotted around central Alabama in Shelby County in recent weeks, AL.com reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The bird has been getting a lot of attention recently after  resident Charlie Stephenson first noticed it at her backyard feeder and posted a picture on social media.

The cardinal’s bright yellow feathers are a result of a genetic mutation, according to scientists, who say it’s the same species as the familiar vivid red cardinal, but carries a mutation that changes its coloring.

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The rare cardinal is a different species from the endangered South American yellow cardinal species.

The bird in Shelby County is an adult male and Auburn University biology professor and bird expert Geoffrey Hill told AL.com the mutation is so rare that even he’s never seen one in person.

"I've been birdwatching in the range of cardinals for 40 years and I've never seen a yellow bird in the wild," Hill said. He estimated that there are just a few of these yellow cardinals in the U.S. and Canada in any given year.

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"There are probably a million bird feeding stations in that area, so very very roughly, yellow cardinals are a one in a million mutation,” Hill said.

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