Diamond ring could lead police to killer of Monroe woman

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 @ 4:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 @ 4:00 PM

A diamond ring could be the key that leads detectives to the killer of 87-year-old Barbara Howe, the Middletown Journal has learned.

The missing ring — Mrs. Howe’s wedding ring of more than one karat — has been a focus of investigators’ three-month homicide probe and could be the key to finding the person, or persons, responsible for killing the Monroe woman and placing her body in the trunk of her red Cadillac.

“It was her signature piece, and it is missing,” Monroe police Detective Gregg Myers told the Journal in an interview. “She always wore it. It was her favorite. It was not with her, and it is not in her house.”

Myers stopped short of saying robbery was the motive for Howe’s slaying. He said taking the ring could have been a crime of opportunity after the fact. Myers noted that when Howe was found, she had other jewelry on her person that was not disturbed.

He said whoever took Howe’s ring may have taken the large diamond out of the setting as a way to sell the gem. Police have been scouring area pawn shops and other avenues that could be used to sell the diamond.

“The ring is important to the investigation,” Myers said.

Police have released few details concerning the Howe investigation. They haven’t said where or how she was killed, and have even kept her family members from viewing or burying her body or entering her home, a cottage at Mount Pleasant Retirement Village.

Even within the police department, some details of the case “are on a need-to-know basis,” Monroe police Lt. Brian Curlis has said. The diamond ring represents the first significant piece of evidence from the investigation that police have revealed.

Howe’s daughter, Donna Wesselman of Cincinnati, said family members always suspected that robbery might be the motive behind her mother’s death and asked police early on if they had found Howe’s wedding ring along with her body.

“They didn’t answer,” Wesselman said, adding she believed then the diamond had been taken.

Wesselman said she didn’t know her mother’s ring was missing until she was contacted Wednesday by the Journal. She said Howe always wore the ring or had it close by.

Monroe police were aided by Middletown police and state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation early on in the investigation and say they continue to receive tips.

Curlis said more the 100 DNA samples have been taken from people investigators have talked with. Investigators are also processing evidence from at least three crime scenes — Howe’s home, her car and the parking lot of Woodridge Apartments in Middletown where she was found in the trunk of her car on Nov. 1.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said last week “there is potentially another crime scene,” though he would not disclose the location.

Howe, who was born in Hamilton, dedicated her life to her husband, Bill, and three daughters, and enjoyed cooking, sewing, traveling, playing tennis and reading. She was a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church, Middletown Symphony Women’s Association, Cotillion Mixers, and a former member of Brown’s Run Country Club and Wildwood Golf Club.

Her husband of 51 years owned and operated Howe Motor Co. in Middletown.

Motorcycle crash shuts large section of North Gettysburg Avenue 

Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 @ 10:09 PM

A motorcycle crash in the 1800 block of North Gettysburg Avenue has prompted police to shut down the roadway. 

The accident was reported about 9:40 p.m. 

Police have shut down Gettysburg Avenue from Cornell Drive to North James H. McGee Boulevard until further notice. We’re hearing the shutdown could last “several hours.”

Our crew on scene reports that there is debris scattered all over the road. 

We will update this developing report as information becomes available.

1 of 2 killed in fiery I-675 crash in Beavercreek ID’d

Published: Saturday, February 18, 2017 @ 4:20 PM
Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2017 @ 11:00 PM

UPDATE @ 1 p.m. (Feb. 20):

One of two victims in the fatal crash on I-675 Saturday has been identified.

Torre K. Wooten Jr., 21, of Fairborn, was pronounced dead at Kettering Medical Center on Sunday at 5:35 p.m., according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

Wooten was transported to Kettering Medical Center following the crash around 4 p.m.

The coroner’s office said they have not yet received Wooten’s body from the hospital following his death.

The other victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, has not yet been identified by the coroner’s office.

UPDATE @ 10:28 a.m. (Feb. 20)

We are expecting more information to be released by Beavercreek police today about the double-fatal crash that temporarily shut down the northbound lanes on I-675 Saturday.

UPDATE @ 11 p.m. (Feb. 19)

We just learned tonight that the passenger who was critically wounded Saturday in the fiery crash on Interstate 675 also has died.

The driver died at the scene, and the passenger passed away at Kettering Medical Center, the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office confirmed.

Beavercreek police are expected to release the men’s identities and information about what led to the crash Monday morning.

UPDATE @ 8:45 p.m. (Feb. 19)

Beavercreek police have not released the identity of a man killed in a fiery crash Saturday afternoon on Interstate 675, pending notification of family who are out of town, a sergeant said tonight.

A passenger remains in critical condition at Kettering Medical Center. More information is expected to be released Monday morning.

UPDATE @ 8:10 p.m.

All lanes of northbound Interstate 675 are back open following a fiery crash. The highway was closed for about four hours near the Col. Glenn Highway exit for a single-vehicle crash.

UPDATE @ 6:15 p.m.

The Greene County Coroner’s Office is on scene of a fiery crash this evening that has shut down northbound Interstate 675 near the Col. Glenn Highway exit in Beavercreek.

Officials have not confirmed a fatality. However, our crew on scene said it appears there is a body covered by a white sheet in the median.

UPDATE @ 5:25 p.m.

All northbound traffic on Interstate 675 is being diverted onto Col. Glenn Highway after a fiery crash just past the exit.

All lanes are blocked after Beavercreek firefighters extinguished flames that erupted from a vehicle that reportedly rolled over during the crash.

The left lane on the southbound side also is blocked.

Bill Wabler of Beavercreek didn’t see the fiery crash, but moments before the crash he called 911 to report a dangerous driver.

Wabler said he was traveling north on I-675 to return home when he saw a speeding vehicle come up behind him and pass him on the right at the 15 mile marker.

“The guy was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed,” which Wabler said he estimated was at least 80 mph and possibly approaching 100 mph. Wabler said he was calling 911 to alert law enforcement about that driver, when he saw brake lights ahead and traffic slowed to a crawl. By the time he reached the 17 mile marker, he saw the same vehicle crashed in the median, he said.


Interstate 675 North is shut down near the Col. Glenn Highway exit after a reported single-vehicle crash.

Beavercreek police and emergency vehicle responded to the crash at approximately 4 p.m.

We’re headed to the scene to find out more.

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Pliers used in armed robbery of Dayton Kwik N Cold

Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 @ 7:25 PM

Pliers used in armed robbery of Dayton Kwik N Cold

A thief, armed with nothing more than a pair of pliers, robbed a Linden Avenue Kwik N Cold in Dayton Sunday night.

The robber held the pliers over the head of a cashier as if he were going to stab the clerk before running off with cash, according to a Dayton police report.

According to the report, the suspect matched the description of someone who had been in the store with two other people 15 minutes before the robbery.

Police continue to search for the man described as 5’11” with a normal build and wearing a blue stripped shirt wrapped around his head, a gray sweatshirt, black jeans, black tennis shoes and white gloves.

Warm weather spell is concerning to area fruit, vegetable farmers

Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 @ 6:41 PM

Warm weather spell is concerning to area fruit, vegetable farmers

Area farmers say the financial impact this week's warm weather spell will have on their crops won't be known for months.

Usually at this time of year, farmers are watching their fields until about mid-May, waiting for the final frost of the season. 

This year's turn of weather events has farmers watching their fields, waiting for cold weather to return stay until that final frost. Temperatures in the region are expected to remain in the 60s this week, much higher than normal. 

How much damage -- if any -- will be done to crops won't be known for some time. 

Monnin Fruit Farm is closed for the season, but at least 1,500 fruit trees and plants need to be pruned. 

Weeks-early buds on some fruit trees are causing worry among farmers. 

"We worry about the fruit trees starting to come out and bud early, earlier than what they're supposed to, and how that affects the tree is that once they start to come out, they won't stop," co-owner Glenn Monnin told News Center 7's Natalie Jovonovich on Monday afternoon. 

When temperatures fall again, crops will suffer damage more easily because this week's warm spell has triggered the maturity cycle. 

"The fruit's starting to turn, it's going to start to grow and there's no way to stop it, it could turn cold again, it may slow it down, but they're still going to keep coming out," Monnin said. "We really don't want the warm weather, we enjoy it, but we don't want it. We'd like to see it stay cold for at least another month."