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Hamilton murders dropped in 2017, but the news wasn’t as good with all crime in the city

Published: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Prostitution, Drugs Afflict Lindenwald

The number of homicides in Hamilton last year tied for lowest since 2012, something Police Chief Craig Bucheit attributes to greater neighborhood engagement and his department’s determination to be more connected with citizens.

“Things are trending in the right direction,” said Bucheit, about the five deaths categorized as murders during 2017. That was down from 11 in 2016, and there were six in 2014 and seven in 2013. As with last year, 2015 also saw five killings.

RELATED: Judge gives max sentence in deadly Hamilton bar shooting

On the other hand, last year’s number was up from earlier in the decade, when there were two in 2010, and four apiece in 2011 and 2012, according to Hamilton police.

“I think it reflects our priorities here, and what we focused on, really aggressively targeting the people and the places that we know are contributing to the violent crime,” Bucheit said. “In the past three years, we’ve been able to shut down three of our most problematic establishments. You’ve got the J & J Bar (316 S. 3rd St.), Doubles, and Hard Times Bar (25 S. 7th St.). J and J’s closed. Doubles has been razed (formerly at 1555 Main St.).

“Those are all places that, if you look back at some of the history there, they were hot spots for crime, and particularly violent crime,” the chief added. “Focusing and coordinating our efforts to address those problem places, and then taking that same approach to the problem people.”

MORE: Doubles Bar, site of fatal summer shooting in Hamilton, was razed

After the fatal shooting of Marion A. Reed Sr. on Front Street in Hamilton in June, people created a makeshift memorial for the Hamilton resident, who was 39. GREG LYNCH / STAFF(Staff Writer)

In other major-crime statistics:

• Major sex offenses were up slightly, at 97, compared with 89 in 2016 and 93 in 2015.

• Police recorded 36 incidents listed as “kidnapping” — not the major types that drew SWAT teams, but most being reports of people being held against their will — compared with 10 in 2016 and 25 in 2015.

• There were 164 reports of motor vehicles being stolen, up from 128 in 2016 and 118 in 2015. Some of those were because of cars being loaned out, sometimes as pay for drugs, and the owners later not knowing where their vehicles were, the chief said.

• Hamilton had 125 aggravated assaults, up from 90 in 2016 and 106 in 2015.

• There were 116 robberies, compared with 110 in 2016 and 123 in 2015.

• Burglaries and breaking-and-entering incidents were at 724, down from 742 in 2016, but well up from 620 in 2015.

• Larceny and theft offenses held steady in 2017, with 1,928 reports, compared with 1,908 in 2016 and 1,960 in 2015.

MORE: Hamilton objects to Hard Times Bar liquor permit renewal

Bucheit also credits the Rev. Dennis Matheny, who lives on Parkamo Avenue, for inspiring other people to become engaged with their neighbors and report crimes or suspicious activities they see to the police. Matheny sat out along the street with a “No Drugs Today” sign to deter people from using what had become known in the area as “Heroin Alley.”

“I can tell you that we’ve seen it time and again, the best way to address these neighborhood in the community, working hand-in-hand with the neighbors,” Bucheit said. “One thing we’ve got going for us is people who care about this community. They’re willing to get involved, they’re willing to pick up the phone, they’re willing to come to a meeting to help us identify these problem places, and work to get them shut down and addressed.”

RELATED: 5 things Hamilton is doing to make the city more fun and vibrant

The Rev. Suzanne LeVesconte, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in the impoverished North End neighborhood, said she hasn’t seen much crime around her church, but months after arrived at the church, there was a big drug bust at a problem house across the street.

“That building has been sold to another person, and has been upgraded, rehabbed,” she said. The building now is rented, “and we don’t seem to have any problems.”

“Now, I know that other neighborhoods in town, where we have some parishioners, are really tough,” she said. “There’s still a lot of selling of drugs going on night and day. So that hasn’t ended in town, by any means. Because I have some people who are in recovery who have a hard time as they’re stepping away from that, not being exposed to that, because of what their neighborhood is like.”

When German Village people get together for their neighborhood association’s monthly meetings, “Nine times out of 10, unless he’s on vacation or something, we have a police officer there,” said Sheryl Silber of Hamilton’s German Village Inc. and owner of Rezen Mind Body Spirit, a massage-therapy business.

“And one of the things we do is talk about what’s going on, what people are observing, what people are seeing or suspecting, and getting feedback from the police department on what they’re doing, and what they’re seeing, that we may not be aware of,” Silber said.

The neighborhood came together recently to eat at, and contribute to, Neal’s Famous BBQ, where vandals have broken large storefront windows three times in the past 13 months.

MORE: 5 things to know about Neal’s Famous BBQ

“In this particular case, someone said, ‘This is the third time their window has been broken. It is rotten,’” Silber said. “I guess that big plate glass is just too tempting, or something.”

The idea was to show, “We’re going to rally around the people in our area,” she said. A large crowd convened Wednesday to support the business.

Some of Hamilton’s annual homicide statistics differ from ones released previously by the department because of differences in two types of law-enforcement crime-statistics reporting: the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) and the National Incident-Based Reporting System (known as NIIBRS). The NIIBRS data include officer-involved deaths as homicides even when they are deemed to be justified.

Some other differences in data came after this media outlet inquired about differences in some annual homicide numbers. The department went back and found some officer-involved deaths, as well as one 2016 death that was initially an “unspecified death” and later determined to be a homicide.

LeVesconte said she is pleased a neighborhood group for the North End has reassembled, with lots of help from city officials and the 17Strong program that works to connect people in the city’s 17 neighborhoods with each other, city government, police and social-service agencies.

Bucheit’s takeaway: “For me, the issue that I saw that was most concerning was the violent crime, looking back, especially in 2016. That’s something that had been an increasing issue. I think that really peaked in 2016, as did our efforts to combat that, and I think the reduction you see in 2017 is a direct result of that.”

Hamilton homicides

2010: 2.

2011: 4.

2012: 4.

2013: 7.

2014: 6.

2015: 5.

2016: 11.

2017: 5.

Source: Hamilton police

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‘I can’t stay’: DUI suspect flees fatal wreck, cops say

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 6:54 PM

Benjamin Harris Rollins (DeKalb County jail)
Benjamin Harris Rollins (DeKalb County jail)

Two years before a deadly head-on crash last Friday night, Benjamin Harris Rollins had been charged with DUI and lost his license.

>> Read more trending news

So when a witness helped pull Rollins from his 2007 Toyota Camry, which he’d been driving home from Moon Shadow Tavern in Tucker, Georgia, he had something to mention.

“I don’t have a license,” he said, according to arrest warrants. 

Then: “I can’t stay.”

He fled Lavista Road on foot, police said. Left at the scene were Edward Freeland Harris, who died in the other car, and Leigh Harris, who was badly injured.

Also, a woman identified in the warrants as Rollins’ ex-girlfriend remained in his car. 

By the time police found Rollins later that night, he was injured and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. He also allegedly smelled of alcohol and admitted he’d been drinking.

Police researched further and saw that his license was still suspended from the previous pending DUI case. 

He was booked in the county jail the next day on charges that include vehicular homicide, DUI, driving with a suspended license and hit-and-run.

Efforts to reach family of the Harrises, both 52, weren’t immediately successful. 

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Humidity builds with threat of storms to start Memorial Day weekend

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 3:39 AM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

Temperatures climbing with the chance for storms over the next few days.

Mainly clear skies are in the forecast this evening with temperatures holding in the lower 80s, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Air Pollution Advisory in effect for Butler, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties
  • Increasing clouds, warmer night ahead
  • Scattered T-storms expected to start holiday weekend
  • Mainly dry and hot for Memorial Day

WHIO Weather App will keep you weather aware 

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

DETAILED FORECAST:

Tonight: Skies will become partly cloudy as increasing humidity arrives. Temperatures will rise overnight, holding in the middle 60s.

>> Grass and tree pollen impact allergy sufferers 

Saturday: Expect a mix of sun and clouds with scattered thunderstorms developing by afternoon. Highs will climb into the lower to middle 80s.

Sunday: Partly cloudy skies and humid conditions are expected with a slight chance for a pop-up shower or storm. Temperatures will climb into the upper 80s with a heat index in the lower 90s.

Memorial Day: Lots of sunshine is in the forecast for Monday but it will remain hot and humid. Highs will top out near 90 degrees with a heat index from 90 to 95 degrees. 

  • Fun fact: The hottest Memorial Day on record is 95 degrees back in 1895!

>> 5-Day Forecast

Tuesday: Expect partly cloudy skies with muggy conditions and a high near 90 degrees.

Wednesday: Skies will become mostly cloudy with scattered showers and storms developing. Highs will drop back into the middle 80s. 

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Columbus police seek help finding endangered missing man

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:53 PM

Stanley Lapczynski
Stanley Lapczynski

An Endangered Missing Adult Alert has been issued for a Columbus man. 

Stanley Lapcynski, 79, suffers from dementia and was last seen around noon Friday when he left his residence but did not return.

He stands 5 feet 6 inches and weighs 190 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a Home Depot shirt and blue jeans.

He is believed to be driving a dark green 2001 Chevrolet Aveo with Ohio plate FFW4599.

Anyone with information is urged to call police or the Ohio Attorney General Missing Persons Unit at 866-693-9171.

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Family of woman slain in drive-by shooting frustrated with lack of info from police

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:48 PM

Family of woman slain in drive-by shooting hold vigil

The family of Sherrell Wheatley is frustrated that Dayton police have not given them any new information about the drive-by shooting that left the 62-year-old woman dead. 

As many as 60 family members and friends turned out Friday evening to remember Wheatley, who was felled by gunfire the evening of May 19. 

Homicide investigators have offered no public statements about a suspect or person of interest in the slaying. 

Wheatley was struck down in the 800 block of North Euclid Avenue as she was walking near a home police believe was targeted in the gunfire. 

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>> Dayton woman killed by stray bullet was son's primary caregiver 

>> 'No, not this again': Drive-by shooting reminds of 2006 incident 

At the vigil, family and friends were given the chance to share their memories of Wheatley and several people took the opportunity to speak, said Janett Jones-Gilliard, a cousin. 

As many as 60 people turned out Friday evening, May 25, 2018, to remember Sherrell Wheatley, a mother and grandmother gunned down by stray gunfire on May 19. (Jim Noelker/Staff)

"We have no idea," she said, when asked about where the investigation is at this point. 

"Haven't heard a word" from police about the case, she said. 

"We miss her. We love her," Jones-Gilliard said of Wheatley. 

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