This Fairfield High School senior saw a need at her school and filled it. Find out why, and how.

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

            Madi Dunn, an 18-year-old Fairfield High School senior, started a food pantry inside the school for students who may not have enough to eat on the weekends. The pantry, which is in its second year of operation, serves dozens of high school students a week. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
            Michael Pitman
Madi Dunn, an 18-year-old Fairfield High School senior, started a food pantry inside the school for students who may not have enough to eat on the weekends. The pantry, which is in its second year of operation, serves dozens of high school students a week. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Michael Pitman)

The mission of LoveWorks is to inspire others to pay kindness forward and to celebrate those within the community who do just that.

Fairfield High School senior Madi Dunn is an inspiration in paying kindness forward to her fellow students, said Angie Kenworthy, the organization’s committee chair. So she wanted to honor Dunn on Valentine’s Day.

Back in 2016, Dunn’s mother, Aimee, who is a teacher within the school district, talked about the Shared Harvest Backpack program, which gives grade school children who may not have enough food to eat meals for the weekend during the school year. The high school doesn’t have anything like that, and she wanted to do something to help her classmates who may need that extra boost.

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“We heard about Madi’s story and the food bank she started here at the high school, and based on her reaching out and caring about other students, and seeing an action that needed to be done and she took action to care,” she said. “So we took action to celebrate her (Wednesday).”

LoveWorks donated food and toiletry supplies acquired through private donations and Matthew 25 Ministries.

“I’m proud she took the initiative to start something new in the school, and I know how challenging that can be — and she didn’t give up,” said Aimee Dunn.

“I’m just proud of what she’s doing in the support of the community,” said her father, Tony.

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During the summer of her junior year, Dunn asked assistant principal Austin Sanders about a high school backpack program, and “by the grace of God” they found a vacant room that had over the years served various purposes.

“He granted this room to me, and once I got my own space we started collecting donations,” she said.

She posted a request for donations and money on Facebook, school clubs pitched in with fundraisers and food drives, and the community helped. Kroger, Sibcy Cline, Rumpke and Performance Honda supported the high school food pantry, as well as organizations like LoveWorks, Matthew 25 Ministries, the Fairfield Food Pantry and Share Harvest FoodBank.

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The program is under the Fairfield High School’s National Honors Society, and the goal is for one of the members to take it over when Dunn leaves for the University of Kentucky in the fall. She plans to major in human nutrition and minor in biology. Her goal is to be a doctor.

Shared Harvest Executive Director Tina Osso said seeing the younger generation taking an active role in addressing hunger within the community is encouraging.

“This is interesting in many factors,” she said. “One is the engagement of her generation in addressing hunger among her peers. What a leader.”

Secondly, she said it fills the gap the backpack program didn’t address when Shared Harvest started it in the 2006-07 school year. The grade schools were focused because of growing brain and cognitive development, and children learn best when they’re not hungry.

“Obviously we would like to see this (school-based pantry) at every school, just like we’d like to see our backpack program,” Osso said. “Having people like Madi step up to the plate, and really rolling her sleeves up, is inspiring.”

Osso said there are a few other pilot programs similar to the pantry at Fairfield, including at Miami University Regional Campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, and at Marshall High School in Middletown.

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Dayton police, fire rescue cat from tree after community members plead for help

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 7:56 PM

Cat is rescued from tree near Hospice of Dayton

- UPDATE, 9:02 p.m.: 

The cat has been rescued, according to a Hospice of Dayton spokesperson.

 Dayton fire and police personnel were able to remove the cat from the tree. The cat was said to be healthy.


A cat with apparent injuries up in a tree on Hospice of Dayton grounds tonight has some people in the community concerned.

A cat was stuck in a tree near Hospice of Dayton. PHOTO COURTESY OF BETHANY WALKER

There have been posts on social media, including the WHIO Facebook page, and calls to our newsroom from people who want to get help for the animal.

>> Bobcat captured aboard ferry in Pittsburgh

We reached out to Hospice of Dayton, and officials there said they are working to resolve the issue.

Earlier, police were called to stop citizens from trying to retrieve the cat.

It’s not clear how long the cat has been in the tree.

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Austin package explosions: 3 blasts appear connected, claim 2 lives, police say

Published: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 10:07 PM
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2018 @ 10:07 PM

Police Investigating Fatal Package Explosions In Austin

Three package explosions in Austin in the past two weeks appear similar and related, authorities said Monday, and police are warning residents against taking suspicious packages inside their homes.

>> Read more trending news

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Officials increase reward to $115,000 for information on Austin bombings

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 7:47 PM

Authorities are investigating the scene in East Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018, after a teenager was killed and a woman was injured in the second Austin package explosion in the past two weeks. (Photo: Mark D. Wilson/Austin American-Statesman)
Authorities are investigating the scene in East Austin on Monday, March 12, 2018, after a teenager was killed and a woman was injured in the second Austin package explosion in the past two weeks. (Photo: Mark D. Wilson/Austin American-Statesman)

UPDATE 2:30 p.m. CDT Sunday: Austin police on Sunday announced a $50,000 increase in the reward offered in exchange for any information leading to the arrest of the bomber behind three recent deadly explosions.

>> Read more trending news

The increase, on top of $15,000 being offered by Gov. Greg Abbott and the $50,000 reward offered by police last week, brings the total reward amount to $115,000.

Police  continued pleading for information on the bombings from the community.

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said that the three bombing incidents within two weeks “were meant to send a message,” although they do not yet know what the bomber’s ideology and motives are.

“We’re hoping to encourage you to come forward with the addition of this tip money that’s now available,” Manley said. “The person or persons understand what that message is, and is responsible for constructing or delivering these devices, and we hope this person or persons is watching and will reach out to us before anyone else is injured or killed out of this even.”

Manley said the cooperation and support from federal partners has been “unprecedented.”

More than 500 agents between the police,  the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and FBI are involved in the investigation, he said. Agents have followed up on 435 leads that have resulted in 236 interviews.

Manley also described the process of the investigation, which includes 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. briefings every day. A command center, comprised of local and federal agents, has been set up to handle the deluge of tips.

“The process is complex, but it is working for us as we go through all these tips,” he said.

Manley said officers have received 735 calls for suspicious packages as of Sunday.

On March 2, 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House died after a package at his home in Northeast Austin detonated. Then, on March 12, police responded to two more package bombings in East Austin -- one that killed Draylen Mason, 17, and injured his mother, and a second attack at another home that sent a woman in her 70s to the hospital with serious injuries.

Manley said that woman is “still fighting for her life,” but would not give any further details on her condition.

Original story: Austin police and the FBI will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Sunday to announce an increase in the reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the three package bombs that have killed two people and injured a third in East Austin.

The news conference comes a day after a bomb threat at an East Austin music venue forced the cancelation of a South By Southwest show by The Roots.

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Former Middletown athlete accused of leading local drug trafficking organization

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Donte Holdbrook
Donte Holdbrook

Several years ago, Donte Holdbrook was a member of a Middletown High School football team who caught touchdown passes and a guard on the basketball team.

Today, Holdbrook, 24, is in federal custody as the accused ringleader of a drug trafficking organization that supplied dealers with fentanyl and heroin in Middletown and throughout southern Ohio. The organization, officials say, had ties to the notorious Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico that was led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who also is in federal custody in New York awaiting trial on multiple charges.

Federal indictments were unsealed and announced last week against Holdbrook and 11 others alleging possession of drugs, interstate travel (to) facilitate unlawful activities and money laundering conspiracy. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio said the investigation disrupted and dismantled the local drug trafficking operation.

Kate middletown

The multi-state investigation extended from Middletown to the West Coast into Mexico and caused the seizure of large quantities of cash, drugs and firearms. The investigation by local, county, state and federal agents took more than a year and also includes the indictments of more than 40 people in California and other areas as part of the alleged money laundering operation.

FIRST REPORT: 12 charged in alleged drug ring that operated from Mexico to Middletown

Undercover FBI agents and task force officers posed as managers and employees of a worldwide criminal organization engaged in money laundering and drug trafficking for months to get evidence that led to the mass indictment of those they say dealt millions of dollars worth of heroin and fentanyl.

According to the federal criminal affidavit and complaint filed Dec. 4, 2017, in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, the FBI alleged Holdbrook knowingly and intentionally possessed with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing fentanyl.

The complaint also said during a Dec. 2, 2017, traffic stop in Middletown, Holdbrook abruptly parked the vehicle, got out and walked into an adjacent alley in an attempt to distance himself from the Dodge Ram pickup truck registered in his mother’s name. Middletown police approached Holdbrook, whose driver’s license was suspended, and he attempted to run away from police. Holdbrook was arrested for obstruction of official business and driving under suspension. The key to the vehicle was found on Holdbrook.

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After a Middletown police canine sweep of the vehicle that detected narcotics, the vehicle was searched, and 369 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mix was found. So were two cell phones, various documents including a multi-entry Mexican visa bearing Holdbrook’s name, a Mexican government identification of another person and a receipt from a Phoenix, Ariz., hotel, according to the complaint.

The complaint noted the person whose ID was found in Holdbrook’s truck was involved in a separate traffic interdiction on April 18, 2017, west of Cincinnati, where authorities seized about $182,000 in a bulk cash transfer that was believed to include proceeds from illegal narcotics trafficking. The agents investigating that seizure said that person had communicated with Holdbrook’s telephone number.

While Holdbrook was in the Middletown police interview room, he tried to break his cellphone that he concealed in what investigators believe was “an attempt to destroy evidence related to illicit narcotics trafficking,” according to the complaint.

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In the complaint, it was noted that U.S. Homeland Security records revealed that Holdbrook had made multiple recent trips to Mexico and that his criminal history included felony convictions of drug possession and tampering.

Last week’s indictment alleges that “fentanyl, heroin and other narcotic substances were processed, cut, packaged and stored prior to distribution to members of the conspiracy and/or customers, in safe locations, known as stash houses, located in and around the city of Middletown, Ohio, and elsewhere in the Southern District of Ohio. The defendants and others used stash houses to manufacture, prepare, process and store fentanyl, heroin, fentanyl mixtures, heroin mixtures, narcotics-processing and packaging materials, and monies obtained through the illegal sale of controlled substances, in order to avoid their detection.”

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The indictment further alleged that Holdbrook coordinated the transfer of fentanyl and heroin from the Sinaloa Drug Cartel to Middletown and funneled or smuggled large amounts of bulk cash back to Mexico. Investigators witnessed at least seven bulk cash pick-ups within the Southern District of Ohio, six in Cincinnati and one at a Comfort Inn and Suites in West Chester. Transactions ranged from $25,000 to more than $180,000. Glassman said between $1 million and $10 million in cash was laundered through the operation.

Among the various charges in the indictment, the defendants are accused of distributing more than 400 grams of fentanyl and one gram of a mixed substance containing fentanyl.

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An apartment on Aaron Drive where Frank Frazier Jr., 24, lived was a key location in the alleged drug ring, according to indictments. Frazier also is in federal custody, as are most of those who were listed in the indictment last week.

Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said the apartments were used because that’s where the suspects felt safe, and they knew people there.

MORE: Apartment manager on accused drug ring member: ‘I just thought he was a stoner, a pothead’

Muterspaw said he was not worried about another drug trafficking organization picking up where the Holdbrook organization left off.

“I am not concerned because we have showed these drug gangs what will happen to them if they set up here,” Muterspaw said. “Every major drug ring that has come here has ended up in prison through state or federal sentencing.”

He said there are three active drug task forces working in Middletown, and police are adding additional police canines and drug interdiction officers in 2018 to make it even harder for them.

“You come in here selling, and you will be on our target list,” Muterspaw said.

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