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Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 11:57 AM
BUTLER COUNTY — A Middletown woman has been sent to prison for dumping a woman’s body in the woods after her overdose last summer.
Erica Robinson, 32, pleaded guilty in March in Butler County Common Pleas Court to tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. A second charge of gross abuse of a corpse, a lower felony, was dismissed.
On Monday, Robinson was sentenced by Judge Michael Oster to 18 months in prison.
Robinson was the second person to go to prison for the crime.
In February, co-defendant Joshua Swenson, 28, took the same plea deal and was also sentenced to 18 months in prison. Both faced a total of 36 months in prison.
Both Robinson and Swenson told Middletown police that Leslie Dalton, 20, of Middletown overdosed in their Wilbraham Road house, and they waited until night before putting her body in a wheelbarrow, covering it with a sheet and then pushing it across the street to a wooded area.
Dalton, who had reportedly been missing since July 27, was found dead in a dry creek bed Aug. 13. Her body was badly decomposed, police said.
Dalton, who attended Middletown City Schools, had a drug problem, her mother previously told this news outlet.
After Dalton was released from jail, she was “doing so good,” her mother Rebecca Charlton previously said.
Then she returned to drugs.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 6:43 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 7:25 PM
URBANA TWP. — UPDATE @ 7:25 p.m.
A Champaign County Sheriff’s deputy was taken to a local hospital after he was injured this evening in an incident that sparked a standoff.
There were more than 20 cruisers and fire vehicles at the scene in the 100 block of East Dallas Road, which was blocked at U.S. 68.
Deputies were using a bullhorn to try to get a suspect to come outside he had barricaded himself inside.
We are working to find out what led to the incident.
A deputy is reportedly injured after an incident that led to a standoff in Champaign County.
The police activity is centered in the 100 block of East Dallas Road.
U.S. 68 is closed at East Dallas Road.
A passerby said the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol and local fire departments are on scene.
We have a crew on the way and will update this developing story.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 12:31 PM
MIDDLETOWN — UPDATED AT 4:26 p.m.
A Butler County man pulled over by police for a speeding violation this morning in Preble County’s village of Gratis allegedly couldn’t be bothered with staying still to receive a ticket.
“He pulled over briefly and told the officer that he didn’t want to deal with it and drove off,” Gratis Police Chief Jeff King told this news organization.
King said the driver led police from three departments — Gratis Police Department, Preble County Sheriff’s Office and Butler County Sheriff’s Office — on a slow-speed pursuit that never exceeded 35 mph.
The nearly 13-mile pursuit ended in Madison Twp. when the driver reached his residence on Corlee Lane, King said.
Robert L. Petitjean II, 49, was charged with failure to comply with order or signal of a police officer, according to Gratis Police Department.
ORIGINAL REPORT: 12:31 p.m. Sunday
A chase that started in Preble County this morning continued into Butler County before the driver was apprehended.
The pursuit started at 10:03 a.m. at East South and East Franklin streets in the village of Gratis and continued down Browns Runs Road, with Gratis Police Department, Preble County Sheriff’s Office and Butler County Sheriff’s Office tracking the vehicle. It lasted until the suspect was arrested near Corlee Lane, just west of Ohio 4.
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 1:41 PM
— Police near Miami University seized at least 16 reportedly fake IDs Friday night.
The Oxford Police Department posted an image on Twitter of the allegedly fraudulent IDs.
“We didn’t get invited to any parties so we went Uptown last night,” the department posted on Twitter. “Thanks to all those that tried to pass Fake IDs to officers last night.”
The tweet had been shared 65 times and liked more than 500 times, as of this story’s publication.
We didn't get invited to any parties so we went Uptown last night. Thanks to all those that tried to pass Fake IDs to officers last night. Maine tho 🤷🏻♂️? pic.twitter.com/Ms4jOWqX4U— Oxford Police Dept. (@OxfordOhioPD) April 21, 2018
The IDs appear to be from all over the nation, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Vermont, Maryland, and Maine. At least one appears to be from Ohio.
Pictures and other details, like addresses and ID numbers, are visible in the photo, prompting some users on Twitter to call out the department.
“Nothing like promoting identity theft…” said one user.
“Wow, how crappy of you to take something that is probably embarrassing and make a joke out of it,” said another. “Funny how you don’t do that for all of your arrests. What makes you so mean today?”
It’s not clear how the department ensured there were no legitimate identity theft victims included in the array of photographs. Oxford police did not immediately respond to emailed questions from this news organization seeking that information.
Also unclear is whether any of the individuals were charged.
Police departments across the country have used Twitter and other social media as a humorous outreach tool to build relationships with the community. This news organization’s partners at WCPO-TV Cincinnati reported last month that Oxford Police have “noticed less hesitance from civilians” since the social media outreach began.
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Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 10:30 AM
PIKE COUNTY — Two years after eight people were murdered in their homes in Pike County, Ohio, the shooting deaths remain unsolved.
Hannah Rhoden, 19, Christopher Rhoden Sr., 40; his ex-wife, Dana Rhoden, 37; their sons, Christopher Rhoden Jr., 16, and Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20; Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Gilley, 20; and relatives Kenneth Rhoden, 44, and Gary Rhoden, 38 died in the shootings.
FULL REPORT: Pike County Murders: 8 deaths, 2 years, no answers
1. What happened to the family in Alaska?
Last June, DeWine announced he was “laser focused” on members of the Wagner family, a family in Kenai, Alaska who formerly lived near the Rhodens in Ohio. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation and other agencies executed search warrants at their former residence.
The Wagners appeared to still be in Alaska as of December, when, according to Alaska court records, Edward Jacob “Jake” Wagner, 25, pleaded no contest to a speeding ticket issued in Soldotna, about a three hour drive south of Anchorage.
Wagner fathered a daughter with Hannah Rhoden, one of the victims, but DeWine has not named him or three other family members — George “Billy” Wagner, his wife, Angela, and their other son, George — as suspects.
The Wagners “continue to be saddened by the loss of the Rhodens,” John Kearson Clark Jr., the family’s attorney, told this newspaper this month. “Especially with each passing year, and yet the case is not resolved.”
“Despite what has been said and alleged, the Wagners were on friendly terms with the Rhodens,” Clark said by email. “Therefore, the Wagners had no reason to wish them harm.”
2. What happened to James Manley, the brother arrested for alleged tampering?
In May, authorities arrested James Manley, the brother of victim Dana Manley Rhoden, on charges of evidence tampering and vandalism after allegedly destroying a GPS tracker placed on his car during the investigation.
A Pike County judge dismissed the charges against Manley so that evidence could be presented to a grand jury. There have been no announcements since of any grand jury action.
Manley’s attorney, James Boulger, and Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk did not respond to requests for comment.
“I have nothing I can say about that,” DeWine said when asked about Manley’s case.
3. Will the next attorney general keep the investigation as a top priority?
Because officials have characterized the case as the largest criminal inquiry in Ohio history, the two candidates to become Ohio’s next attorney general - DeWine leaves office in January - face the decision of whether they would continue to consider solving the Pike County murders as the office’s number one priority.
“Anyone who would predict this nine months before taking office, without seeing the evidence and understanding the posture of the investigation at that time, is a fool, or a poltroon, or both — and not fit for the office of attorney general,” said Dave Yost, the Ohio auditor and Republican candidate for attorney general, in an email.
Yost’s Democratic opponent, Steve Dettelbach, held his cards even closer.
“I’ve spent two decades as a prosecutor,” Dettelbach, the former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Ohio, said by text message. “I don’t and won’t politicize an important murder investigation.”
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