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Monument for Erica Baker to be dedicated

Published: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 11:35 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

The family of Erica Baker will host a monument dedication ceremony Saturday at 10 a.m. for the Kettering girl who disappeared in 1999 while walking her family dog and never came home.

“The rest of the family has wanted to do this for several years, but I refused until now. To me, I felt like it would mean I would be giving up,” said her mother, Misty Baker. “But I shouldn’t look at it that way. That isn’t true.”

Erica was a 9-year-old third-grader at Indian Riffle Elementary School in Kettering when her family last saw her on the afternoon of Feb. 7, 1999.

Investigators believe she was struck and possibly killed by a van on Glengarry Drive, then removed from the scene.

The driver, Christian Gabriel, told police in 2004 that he disposed of the girl’s body after striking her, but has never said where her remains were taken. He said he was driving with a suspended license and had just stolen merchandise from a nearby store.

Released in 2011, Gabriel served more than five years in prison for gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

A passenger who was in the van with him died in 2001.

Erica’s mother said the monument is for both Erica and her.

“I chose a monument that has flying butterflies on it. The purple one is for Erica. The blue one is for me. Mine is covering hers.”

She said the ceremony will be “a way for people to honor her and to say goodbye. I will have photos of her there. We picked David’s Cemetery because it’s in Kettering.”

Other family members including Erica’s father, Greg Baker, and her three brothers — Jason Sponaugle, 31; Gregory Baker , 27, and Logan Baker, 26, will attend.

“Everyone is welcome — friends, family and the community,” Misty Baker said.

The cemetery is at 4600 Mad River Road, just off West David Road, west of Far Hills Ave.

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.

Hit-and-run driver admits heroin use before fatally striking bicyclist

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 12:52 AM

Contributed Photo/WCPO-TV

A bicyclist was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, who later admitted to using heroin before getting behind the wheel near Cincinnati on Monday.

>> Read more trending stories

The victim, 61-year-old William Rust III, of Cincinnati, was riding his bike along the shoulder of U.S. 52 in Anderson Twp., just east of Cincinnati Monday afternoon, our news partner WCPO-TV reports. 

A car, driven by Steven Sickle, 33, of Feesburg, Ohio, drifted off the road and hit Rust, throwing him from the bike, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said in a media release. Deputies said Sickle fled the scene without stopping or attempting to help.

RELATED: Ohio officer overdoses after accidental contact with fentanyl on traffic stop

MORE: Suspect in Miami Co. fatal police chase said he used drugs during pursuit

Rust was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another person drove Sickle back to the scene of the crash, where he admitted to ingesting heroin before driving, WCPO-TV reports. 

RELATED: Vast victims: Heroin damages the very young, old and even non-users

Sickle was charged with fleeing the scene of a deadly automobile crash, and aggravated vehicular homicide.  

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911 caller on Kettering body: ‘Looks like someone threw her out of a car’

Published: Sunday, May 21, 2017 @ 8:18 AM

Two men are accused of taking the body of a deceased woman who apparently overdosed and dumped it along a Kettering street. 

  • David A. Detrick and Charles E. Hall have been booked into the Montgomery County Jail 
  • Each is detained on these charges: suspicion of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence
  • The victim is 28-year-old Tiffany Lynn Argo, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office

FULL REPORT

Two men are in jail on charges accusing them of dumping the body of a deceased woman who apparently overdosed.

Kettering police responded to a house on the 3400 block on Valleywood Drive around 6:40 a.m. Sunday, where they found an unresponsive woman next to the road. 


>>RELATED: 911 caller on Kettering body: ‘Looks like someone threw her out of a car’ 


“By the time our officers responded, it was apparent that she had been deceased,” Kettering officer John Jung said Monday. “Medics were able to come and pronounce her.” 

The Montgomery County Coroner’s office identified the victim as Tiffany Lynn Argo, 28. 

A report filed by Kettering police showed Argo as having a Middletown address. Middletown High School confirmed that she attended the school from grades 9 through 10 but did not graduate from the school. 

Jung said an investigation by Kettering detectives led police to 1721 Willamet Road, where they found several of Argo’s belongings. It was there police arrested Detrick and Hall, who were occupants of the home. 


>>RELATED: Arrests linked to dead body in Kettering: What we’re trying to find out 


A woman who called 911 said she was on her way home Sunday morning when she spotted a person in the grass along Valleywood Drive. 

“I went over to see if they were OK, and I think they’re dead,” the caller states. “…It looks like someone threw her out of a car.” When asked by emergency dispatch if she was comfortable attempting CPR, the caller responded, “She looks like she’s already gone.” 

Detrick, 39, and Hall, 64, were arrested Sunday afternoon in connection with the investigation, according to police. Neither suspect has a court date set. 

Jung said police believe Hall provided residence for Detrick and Argo at the Willamet Road home. Police believe the two men moved Argo’s body to the Valleywood Drive address upon discovering her deceased in the home. 

Jung said the preliminary determination was that Argo had overdosed.

“Based on things found at the scene, condition of the body and speaking with the coroner, they determined she died of a possible overdose,” he said. 

Argo had been arrested multiple times in the past, including several drug-related offenses. 

>>MORE: Crime lab director’s son, 2 others named as suspects after drug raids 

Hall and Detrick have lengthy criminal histories, including several drug-related charges. Hall has been arrested at least 12 times in the past 10 years, most recently in March on drug-related charges.

Detrick has been arrested at least eight times in the past 10 years on charges of drug possession, criminal trespassing, theft and fraud. 

Jung said there are “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from prosecution if they are acting in the victim’s best interest in a possible overdose situation. He said that had Hall and Detrick called police as soon as they allegedly found Argo, things could have gone differently. 

“What’s going on these days is off-putting to see the disregard for human life,” Jung said. “Somebody that may have made a bad choice, but they still deserve better treatment than what happened with her, for sure.” 


FOLLOW: Tre Hogue on Twitter and Facebook

FIRST REPORT (May 21)

Kettering police are investigating after a body was found in the front yard of a home Sunday morning. 

Police were dispatched to the house in the 3400 block of Valleywood Drive around 6:40 a.m., according to Kettering Officer John Jung.

Jung said the person found has yet to be identified and the cause of death is unknown. 

A coroner is at the scene, according to Jung, as police continue to investigate. 

We will continue to monitor this developing story.

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Middletown picks top Lakota official as new superintendent

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 6:21 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 11:15 AM

One of the rising stars of Lakota Local Schools will become the new leader of Middletown City Schools, the Journal-News was the first to report Monday.

Marlon Styles Jr., the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Lakota, was chosen through unanimous vote by the Middletown Board of Education on Monday evening as the district’s next superintendent.

MORE: 3 finalists for Middletown Superintendent job

“We will be innovative and modernize our approach to provide our students with a strong educational experience and we will introduce a strong sense of Middletown pride and I hope to be the source of inspiration for that in this district and this community,” Styles told the board after the vote.

Styles, who is a former principal of Mount Healthy High School in Hamilton County, said, “I’m looking forward to partnering with you and the community to making a difference in the lives of our students … and I’m ready to get to work.”

Middletown School Board President Chris Urso said the 37-year-old Styles won over the five-member governing board of the Butler County city school system with his resume, intelligence and leadership qualities.

“He comes here with a past that is full of great experiences, being at Mount Healthy and being at Lakota, you can see the young man is ready for this challenge. The charisma, the intellect, all those pieces gives us the utmost confidence that as superintendent he’ll lead our district in a good direction,” Urso said after the vote.

Styles, who will earn $138,000 annually, will replace current superintendent Sam Ison, who initially retired but then accepted a principal’s job with Wayne Local Schools in Warren County.

MORE: Middletown Schools’ leader leaving

Styles will be the first African American to serve as superintendent in Middletown Schools’ history, though the district has had a black, interim superintendent.

About 18 percent of Middletown’s 6,400 students are African American.

Styles moved from Mount Healthy Schools to Lakota Schools in 2013 and is credited by district officials there with revamping and modernizing the 16,500-student’s curricula, particularly in the areas of classroom instruction focusing more on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

MORE: Styles hired as new Lakota curriculum leader

Prior to his Mount Healthy stint he served as assistant principal at Hamilton County’s Wyoming High School and Northwest High School and as a middle school math teacher in the Winton Woods Schools.

He is a graduate of Thomas More College and earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati.

In his cover letter that accompanied his application for the Middletown job, Styles cited newly adopted strategic goals for improving the troubled city school district, which in recent years has been one of the lowest performing districts in Southwest Ohio according to the state’s annual report card.

“I believe I have the diverse experience, leadership, skills and commitment you are looking for to lead the Middletown Schools,” wrote Styles in documents obtained by the Journal-News last week through a public records request.

“In collaboration with all Middletown city school district stakeholders, we would infuse modern learning opportunities into our schools to positively impact student learning,” wrote Styles.

Veteran Lakota Board of Education member Ray Murray, who cast a vote in 2013 to hire Styles, praised the new Middletown leader as a “smart choice for the job of superintendent of the Middletown School district.”

“His knowledge of curriculum design and professional development will bring a positive and immediate impact on student learning. Marlon is a true leader in education and the residents of Middletown are getting a top notch superintendent,” said Murray.

Under Ohio law, school boards hire district superintendents and treasurers. Traditionally, superintendent contracts begin on Aug. 1, but Middletown board members included a stipulation in Styles’ contract that he will work 15 days total for Middletown in the months of June and July.

In March, the board hired the K12 Business Consulting search firm to assist in developing a superintendent search profile and to recruit potential candidates.

The same firm earlier this handled Lakota’s search for a new superintendent, resulting in the hiring of Matt Miller.

MORE: Record turnover among Butler, Warren county superintendents

School officials offered online surveys to city residents and held a series of public input meetings to formulate a candidate profile and the qualities district officials, school employees, residents, business and city leaders were seeking in a new superintendent.

Work is continuing on a $96 million transformation of the Middletown High School campus that includes the building of a new middle school and a massive renovation of the adjacent high school.

The two schools will be connected by a new gym and athletic center. The two projects are scheduled to be completed in 2018, though some high school classroom spaces will be opened this spring.