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Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 5:30 PM
— In December, 1992, downtown Dayton was filled with holiday decorations and activities. There was the Christmas tree lighting on Courthouse Square and across the street, the Dayton Arcade had reopened temporarily with pop-up shops and eateries for the holiday season. As people shopped and celebrated, they would have never imaged what was about to happen.
A band of teenagers were looking for trouble. Laura Taylor, Marvallous Keene, Heather Matthews and Demarcus Smith called themselves "The Downtown Posse." They were estranged from their families and looking for trouble.
"Let's get some drama in our lives," Taylor, a 16-year-old runaway, said to the group.
On Christmas Eve, they began the worst crime spree in Dayton history. The first victim was Joseph Wilkerson. The girls lured their way into his Prescott Avenue home promising sex, and the 34-year old General Motors worker was shot and killed. The posse then partied in Wilkerson's house over the next three days. They ate his food and drove his cars while he lay dead in a bedroom.
That same night, they shot Danita Gullette, 18, who was using a pay phone outside a neighborhood market in West Dayton. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said Gullette was robbed of her gym shoes, jacket and book bag.
"All she said was, 'Don't shoot me' and they shot her anyway," said Rhonda Gullette, the victim's sister. "She gave them everything that she had. I just wish that they would have spared my sister."
On Christmas day, the body of 19-year-old Richard Maddox was discovered in a car. He had been shot in the head. Detectives later found out that Maddox was the former boyfriend of Laura Taylor. Jeffrey Wright was also shot that day outside a home on Yuma Place. Despite, 4 bullets, he survived.
The posse went into the Short Stop Mini Mart on December 26, and shot Sarah Abraham who was working in a family business that holiday weekend. The 38-year-old mother died 5 days later in the hospital. A store customer who was shot, Jones Pettus, survived .
At first, Dayton homicide detectives did not know that these crimes were all connected.
"Really the first thing that made the connection for us was the ammunition," said retired Dayton Homicide Detective Doyle Burke. "Then you start to worry and you figure out that we've got a person or persons that are probably not going to stop."
Burke said they had no idea who they were looking for.
"The fact that it was truly stranger on stranger crime, which is the most difficult homicide to solve…there was not even a motive," Burke said.
Later on December 26, former Dayton Police Sgt. John Huber, spotted a stolen car on Kumler Avenue. At the time, he did not know that he was stopping Dayton's spree killers.
"They all cooperated and put their hands up. I was later to find out from the detectives that Laura Taylor told Marvallous Keene to shoot me and he wouldn't.," said Huber.
After the four members of the posse were behind bars, Taylor got a visit from a local minister who was concerned that she was only sixteen and accused of such terrible crimes. During their visit, Taylor told him about two more victims. Police found the bodies of Wendy Cottrill, 16 and Marvin Washington, 19, in a city-owned gravel pit on Richley Avenue. Taylor said they were shot because the group thought that they would snitch to the police.
Keene confessed and was sentenced to death. After 17 years of appeals, he was executed in 2009. The other three got life prison sentences. During a prison interview in 2000, Heather Matthews explained why she got into in the crime spree.
"I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do what they was doing," Matthews said.
Detective Burke said that once the killing started, he believes they were all willing participants.
"They enjoyed it. They lived it. It made them somebody," Burke said.
Rhonda Gullette admits that even after 25 years, the holidays are very difficult.
"I grieve for my family but I continue to grieve for the other victim's families and also the people who are incarcerated," said Gullette. "Anybody's life can either go to the left or the right, so I do, I think about them very often."
Gullette said the murder of her sister had a huge impact on her life. The crime led to the break-up of her engagement, the loss of a child and her mother.
"Six years later my mother passed away prematurely," said Gullette. "My mother passed away at 51-year's old and she passed away because of grief. My mother absolutely died of a broken heart."
Gullette is now an advocate for victim's rights and is working on her master's degree. She said she gets through the holidays by serving her church and feeding the homeless.
John Huber, retired from the Dayton Police Department, is the Public Safety Director at Sinclair Community College. Doyle Burke is Chief Investigator for the Warren County Coroner and has written a book about the homicide cases that he has investigated, including this one.
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 5:47 PM
Bada Bing Pizzeria in Springfield will close on Sunday, according to a post on the business’ Facebook page.
The post reads in part, “Thank you all for your support over the last few years. We have been blessed beyond measure. What’s next? Stay tuned.”
WHAT’S NEXT? Bada Bing announces new concept for restaurant space
The restaurant is located at 40 N. Fountain Ave.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 10:01 AM
A Springfield woman who allegedly stabbed her 79-year-old uncle has been arrested and charged.
Rebecca Isaac, 37, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated robbery in Clark County Municipal Court. She is due in court at 10:30 a.m. this morning.
Springfield police began their investigation when they were called to a home on the 2100 block of Gerald Drive in reference to a stabbing.
“Upon officers arrival, they located the victim inside the residence and (he) was bleeding profusely from a chest wound. Medics responded and immediately transported him to Springfield Regional Medical Center where his injuries were assessed and because of the severity, he was transported by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital,” the affidavit says.
A spokeswoman said the victim is still at Miami Valley Hospital but couldn’t release his condition Thursday morning.
The affidavit says there was blood scattered throughout the home and several cabinets and closets were open which appeared to be ransacked.
Officers spoke with a family member who stated she received a call from the victim after the assault and told her that Issac came to his house and stabbed and robbed him of $300, according to the affadavit.
“Detectives spoke to the victim at Miami Valley Hospital,” the affidavit says. “He stated he was sitting in his chair when he awoke to a pain in his chest and stated his niece was stabbing him with a knife and demanded $500 at which time he stated ‘Becky do you know what you’re doing?’ and she replied ‘I’m going to kill you if I don’t get the money.’”
Isaac allegedly continued to stab the victim and forced him to retrieve $300 out of a safe.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:14 AM
CENTERVILLE — A 16-year-old Washington Twp. boy has been charged with sexual imposition as a result of an ongoing investigation by Centerville police after an alleged incident at Centerville High School.
John Davis, community relations officer with the Centerville Police Department, confirmed the investigation began on May 5 after an incident on the grounds of the high school.
“The suspect and victim are both juveniles, therefore, the details that I can provide are very limited,” Davis said.
The suspect is a Centerville student, and the matter is now juvenile court.
School officials say that allegations involving sex crimes are taken seriously, and the police were notified immediately.
“We cannot go into much detail since the student involved is a juvenile,” said Sarah Swan, community relations specialist for the school district. “There were school consequences for the student, and the police were notified.”
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 11:08 PM
Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 12:05 AM
FAIRFIELD — UPDATE @ 12:05 a.m. (June 21):
A missing endangered alert has been canceled after a 78-year-old Fairfield man was found safe, according to a release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
A Missing Endangered Adult Alert has been issued for a 78-year-old Butler County man.
John Scott was last seen driving from his Fairfield residence around 3:30 p.m. in his 1995 green Chevrolet S10, Ohio plate number AG28BG.
Scott stands 5 feet 3 inches, weighs 110 pounds and has gray hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a large beige brim hat.
Police say he suffers from diabetes and may be in need of medical attention.