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Man Charged in Murder of Former Lowell Resident

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

New details are emerging in the December 20, 2013 killing of an Indianapolis area woman and her daughter. Marylyn Erb and Kelley M Erb were found in their Westfield, Indiana home by husband and father Thomas Erb. Marylyn Erb is originally from Lowell, Indiana.

Police arrived on the scene to find that the two women had been bludgeoned to death and their 2011 Buick Enclave had been used as the getaway vehicle. Police reports indicate that credit cards were also taken in the murder robbery and police were able to obtain video footage of an individual in a pontiac grand prix using the credit cards at various stores. The police report states:

It was determined that Chase credit cards were stolen during the home invasion and that those same credit cards were used at several locations during the afternoon hours of December 20, 2013. Video was obtained from several of these locations . . . The video shows a Pontiac Grand Prix pulling into the parking lot of the CVS.:

Police released video clips to the media and later received tips linking Christian Rene Haley to the crimes. An arrest was made and charges were filed in the matter on December 26, 2013. Police also were able to track a cell phone used by Haley to towers near the Erb home.

Those from the region who knew Marylyn Erb may leave their condolences at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/Batesville/guestbook.aspx?n=marylyn-erb&pid=168700621

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Still No Charges for Thomas "TJ" Snow

27 Dec Clifford and Joyce Snow

by Ken Davidson

On October 21, Sheriff John Buncich held a press conference naming Thomas “TJ” Snow as the lead suspect in the death of beloved teacher Cliff Snow and his wife Joyce. The couple were found in their rural home on October 18, 2013 after a call for a welfare check from their out of state daughter. Officers reportedly discovered a grizzly scene upon arrival at the home. Later reports indicated that the couple were beaten and strangled but an official cause of death has yet to be announced. Thomas Snow was apprehended in Minnesota after a short police chase on October 18. Snow waived extradition to Indiana on October 22, 2013 and was transported to the Newton County Jail on December 11, 2013. Since that time, officials have been mum on details regarding the case. The Gazette has learned, however, that charges have yet to be filed in the matter. Snow has an unrelated warrant from Lake County which will hold him if he is released from Newton County. Snow would be eligible for bond on both charges absent filing of the murder charges.

The Lake County Sheriff still seeks information from anyone who may have had communication with Thomas J. Snow during the period October 4 through October 18, 2013. Anyone with such information should call the Lake County Sheriff at 219.755.3371

Griffith Police Arrest Subject, Credit Vigilant Citizens for Helping

19 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

Gazette Staff

At approximately 12:15 pm on December 16, 2013, the Griffith Police were notified by a resident that a subject in a green compact car had approached her residence and rang her doorbell continuously. The resident, having just exited the shower, did not immediately answer the door and instead yelled to the subject that she would come to the door shortly. After making this statement, the subject quickly returned to the green car and left the area.

Griffith Sergeant Todd Dawes responded to the area of the complainant’s home and, in the area of the 900 block of Wheeler, located a green compact car parked in a driveway, running and occupied by two men. Sergeant Dawes made contact with the two men who advised that they were present at the residence to visit a friend. Despite their claims, Sergeant Dawes noted that the men appeared to be nervous and that their car had a large screen TV, a gaming system and a jewelry box in the back seat. Additional officers were summoned to the scene and the two men, identified as David Woods (19 YOA) of Gary and Shane Parks (19 YOA) of Chesterton, were detained. Further investigation at the scene revealed that forced entry had been made to the home and that a burglary had taken place. A subsequent warranted search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of all property taken from the Griffith residence as well as additional property that will likely be associated with other burglaries that have occurred recently in neighboring towns.

Both Woods and Parks provided statements to Detective Schoon regarding their involvement in this burglary.

On December 18, 2013, the Office of the Lake County Prosecutor charged David Woods and Shane Parks with Class B Felonies for Burglary. If convicted, Woods and Parks face 6 to 20 years in prison.

Chief Mance stated that, “Arrest like this show that the citizens of Griffith and the Griffith Police Department are working in unison to send a strong message that crime will not be tolerated in our community.”

Griffith Police Issue Alert Regarding Scams Targeting Seniors in Their Homes

19 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

Gazette Staff

Griffith, and other neighboring communities, have experienced recent incidents in which elderly citizens are approached at their homes by “a Hispanic looking man” posing as an employee of a utility company. The suspect in these cases then asks the resident to perform a task (usually to fill a bucket of water or to watch a testing device) as a distraction. Once distracted, the suspect speaks a foreign language into a “walkie talkie” like device and leaves the view of the resident. When this occurs, one or two accomplices enter the house and look for money or other precious metals to steal from the unsuspecting resident.

These types of incidents are called “Gypsy Scams” because they are most often committed by Gypsies, a wandering group of people of Romanian, Yugoslavian, Russian, Polish and Hungarian descent. And, unfortunately for us, our nearby neighbor of Chicago has a known and substantial population of active Gypsies.

To prevent being a victim of a Gypsy Scam, please be suspicious of anyone that approaches your home and asks to come inside for any reason. If they are from a legitimate utility company they will have an official identification badge that will properly identify them as such. If you are at all suspicious lock your door and call 911.

Please pass this information along to all of your elderly family, friends and neighbors.

Details Slow Coming in Union Hall Death

16 Dec

by  Ken Davidson

Police and government officials are being tight lipped about the death of a Lake Village man on Friday morning.  According to unverified reports, the incident was caught on video tape and at least one person has been charged.  The Gazette has put out feelers for  information but has found little so far.  This is what we have been able to verify.  The fight occurred Thursday night at the Local 150 Operating Engineers hall in Merrillville.  Jacob Oxley, the victim in the matter, was a member of the union.  He reported to work on Friday morning where he died.  Sadly, Oxley just found that he is expecting a child.  Police have arrested at least one person based on the video.  At least one more arrest is expected.

Merrillville Police are investigating.

Mayor McDermott Attempts to Quash Investigation into Campaign Finances

6 Dec

by Ken Davidson

In a filing with the Lake County Election Board today, Mayor McDermott, by his attorney David Westland, asked the board to dismiss the complaint filed by Eric Krieg. You will recall that Krieg filed a complaint asking the board to investigate payments of over $300,000 from the campaign to the Mayor’s wife; non-payment of rent to Pyramid Development Corporation for office space; and a one-time payment of $6,000 to David Woerpel from the campaign.

In the filing the Mayor states “there is no substantial reason to believe that a violation of election law has occurred.” The Mayor argues that Indiana law does not require a written contract between a candidate and his wife for payment of services to the campaign. In support of this argument, the Mayor cites the fact that the advisory opinion was never codified and the statement of Brad King, co-chair of the Indiana Election Commission, which was obtained by The Times of Northwest Indiana for their article on the issue.

As to the rent issue, the Mayor argues that rent was paid and the Board should not look to the fair market value of any such agreement. Finally, as to the one time payment to David Woerpel, the Mayor points out that the payment was made three weeks before his arrest and states that Woerpel performed services for the campaign. The nature of the services are not outlined in the reply.

The Gazette would like to hear your thoughts. Should the Election Board investigate the above issues?
You can read the full response here:
12051302 (1)

WE WANT YOUR FEEDBACK:IN. Senator Introduces Bill to End Straight Ticket Voting

5 Dec

Reader submitted

Please submit a comment and tell us what you think. If we get enough comments, we will submit them to our local representatives.

Senate Bill 146 was recently sponsored by Senator Mike Delph (R) of Carmel. The bill calls for an end to straight ticket voting in Indiana. Senator Delph believes that a person should vote for an individual candidate, and in doing so, have knowledge of the candidate they are voting for. He also believes that straight ticket voting can put other candidates at an unfair advantage. With the simple push of one button, you can vote for a straight party without having to view every candidate’s name and position without giving your vote much thought or effort. Delph said Senate Bill 146 will likely be assigned to an elections committee in order to be considered. According to Michael Adkins, Chairman of the Hancock County Democratic Party, the bill would not create major changes in voting in Hancock County, and that straight ticket voters would continue to vote straight ticket.
This is not the first attack on straight ticket voting. Earlier this year in March, representatives of the People Before Party Act- Jim Matheson (D) of Utah and Charlie Dent (R) of Pennsylvania introduced H.R. 936 as a means to prevent straight ticket voting in federal elections. The bill amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by adding to it- that no state is allowed to provide a voter with the opportunity to indicate the selection of a political party as a representation of the selection of an individual candidate.
Straight ticket voting exists elsewhere, but varies by state. States include: Indiana, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, & West Virginia. In general, straight ticket voting is on the decline in the U.S. The most recent state to abolish straight ticket voting was Wisconsin in 2011.