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Prosecutor Releases Full Report on Homicide of Lowell Woman, Daughter

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office has released the charging affidavit and the police reports related to the arrest of Christian Rene Haley for the murder of Marylyn Erb and Kelley Erb. You can view the full report here:

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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

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

Reader Outlines Concerns Over Illiana

17 Dec

Letter to the Gazette:

On December 12, 2013, the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission
(NIRPC) voted to accept the Illiana Toll Road into their 2040 Comprehensive
Regional Plan. By voting the Illiana public/private partnership project into
the regional plan, the NIRPC commissioners are allowing the project to clear
one of the many hurdles in its path. Public comment was not allowed at this
final meeting until after the NIRPC commission members had already voted.
NIRPC Chairman and Crown Point Mayor David Uran stated that three meetings
had been held where public comment was allowed and commission members had
reviewed comments submitted by the public. I have my doubts about how many
of the commission members truly read through the valid arguments against
adding this toll road to the commission’s 2040 plan.
> Besides the environmental impact on the region, which has three major
environmental groups filing lawsuits to stop the Illiana Toll Road, two major
business magazines have had eye-opening columns that explain in great detail
the extreme cost to taxpayers when dealing with privately run toll roads.
Openlands, Sierra Club, and Midewin Heritage Association have taken legal
action to stop the toll road based on the inevitable consequences in areas
such as Des Plaines Conservation Area and Midewin Tallgrass Prarie in
Illinois. Bloomberg News and Crain’s Chicago Business both recently printed
columns exposing the fact that overly-optimistic projections take place in
almost all of these road projects. This has led private road companies to
seek “set” payments from the states instead of accepting any risk that tolls
may not match projections. This is a lose/lose situation for the taxpayer.
You pay the toll and pay the state taxes that also pay the difference of
these exaggerated estimates. This is corporate welfare on steroids!
> Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider let the cat out of the bag in
October of this year when interviewed by Crain’s reporter Greg Hinz. When
people throw around the 28,000 jobs between now and 2043, they are quoting
“job-years”(whatever the heck that means), not total new jobs. The actual
estimate is a possible “940 full-time jobs” created. Forty-seven miles of
road cutting through the most pristine farmland and homesteads, which rely
completely on wells for water, so two governors can create 940 jobs over the
next 30 years. It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn stupid and serious.
> Schneider also completely contradicted Indiana Rep. Ed Soliday’s claim at the
NIRPC meeting that a future Peotone Airport is playing no role in pushing
this project. According to Schneider, traffic projections for Illiana done
by IDOT assumed the Peotone Airport will eventually be built. I would have
told Ed that, but public comment was not allowed.
> At the meeting on the 12th of December, which was conveniently held on a
Thursday at 9:00AM in Portage, Indiana, INDOT Northwest Indiana Chief Bob
Alderman gave an impassioned, nearly 15-minute, speech about how the Illiana
Toll Road will make the Borman and I-65 safer for travel. Really, Mr.
Alderman? You truly believe widening I-65 between U.S. 231 and Route 30 will
make things safe when the toll road will be well south of U.S. 231? You
believe diverting traffic from U.S. 30 and the Borman between 2-percent and
8-percent over the next 30 years is going to make the Borman safe?
> I drove from Hammond to the Portage NIRPC meeting on the Borman in light
traffic and still had to drive ultra-defensively because people were driving
25-miles over the speed limit. How will building a toll road make people on
the Borman drive in a safe manner? Why not widen I-65 up to and south of the
toll road? Unlike what some are reporting in the news, the “widening” of
I-65 is NOT part of the Illiana Toll Road project. It is only being approved
at the same time.
> There is so much misinformation being thrown around in support of this toll
road that it is very hard to decipher truth from fiction at this time. But
what is for certain is that we have the governor of one of the most fiscally
sound state governments in the United States making a deal with one of the
most mismanaged states in the Union. Two major business magazines have
labeled this road a bad investment for Hoosiers. Our water will be
threatened by construction, possible hazardous waste trucking spills, and
distance from Lake Michigan and access to fresh water.
> The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) transportation research group’s
(TRIP) most recent study says that 11% of Indiana bridges are structurally
deficient and 22.5% of our roads are in poor condition. Between Illinois and
Indiana, well more than 100-million dollars has been spent just studying the
feasibility of the Illiana Toll Road. That money could have been better
spent fixing our current roads and bridges instead of creating temporary jobs
to build a road 22-miles south of the Borman.
> If I weren’t 100-percent convinced that the Illiana Toll Road will fail to
provide the estimated tolls or meaningful, permanent jobs, I wouldn’t be so
determined to stop this project. If I were convinced that building this road
would make the Borman, Route 30, or any other road around here safer, I would
be in favor of it. I don’t believe any of that. But don’t listen to me.
Look up the information for yourself. Study the facts about our watershed,
private toll roads, look up comments from Illinois Transportation Secretary
Ann Schneider and others who are not so adamant supporters of this project.
Is the purpose of a toll road to create permanent jobs?
>
Dan Blankenship, Lowell

Submit your letter, comments or thoughts to the Gazette:

NIRPC Passes Illiana, Lowell Residents Outraged, Union Members Cheer

12 Dec

by Ken Davidson

In perhaps one of the most contentious public meetings of the year, a room full of people who face losing their farms and family homes squared off with union members looking for temporary jobs.  Union members cheered as NIRPC voted to approve the Illiana Toll Road while farmers cried.  Perhaps the best comment was from a Lowell resident who said “move the road closer to Cedar Lake and Crown Point since they want it so bad.”  That comment clearly points out the irony of communities who have nothing to lose weighing in on the fate of people’s homes in rural south county Indiana.

Christine Cid stood up to the machine once again and voted against the Illiana.  You will recall that Cid was the lone democrat on the County Council standing against the income tax.  This time Cid was joined by County Chair Thomas McDermott.  McDermott, acting as Mayor of Hammond, clearly stated that communities along the 80/94 corridor may be harmed by the southern corridor.  Thus, the question as to why Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson decided to support the controversial plan.  Freeman-Wilson would appear to have the most to lose with the construction of the tollway as she has pinned Gary’s revitalization hopes to the plan to be a transportation hub.  The Illiana Toll Road is expected to be a catalyst for the proposed Peotone Airport as well as a truck route to avoid congestion.  The primary economic growth Gary has seen in recent years has been along the 80/94 corridor.  In the event the Illiana is successful in removing even 20% of the truck traffic from the area, that could be a large loss in jobs and tax revenue for Gary.

The real story here is Governor Mike Pence.  Pence chimed in today praising the Board for passing the plan.  Pence would do well to remember his base if he plans to run for re-election.  It seems that he was outmaneuvered politically during this entire process.  Maybe we will see a Governor McDermott after all.

Vigilant Citizen Helps Catch Serial Burglar in Lowell

12 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Lowell Police are reporting that they will charge Phillip Miley, age 31, with six counts of burglary after a resident reported suspicious activity.  In a release, the Lowell Police Department stated that a citizen saw a suspicious male with a backpack in the early morning hours of December 9.  The responding officer tracked footprints in the snow back to Miley’s residence.  A search warrant was obtained for Miley’s current and former residences.  Police discovered property from several previous burglaries in those searches.   The Lowell Police Department credited citizen awareness in the apprehension of the suspect:

This case is an example of an alert citizen and good police work leading to the apprehension of a menace to the town. Without the public’s support, these types of property crimes are very difficult to solve.

Gazette readers are encouraged to remain vigilant in watching for suspicious activity in your neighborhoods.  Crime watch is a great place to learn about the things going on in your neighborhood.  If you need information on your local crime watch, feel free to drop us a line and we will post that information here.

 

 

28 y.o. Avon, IN Woman Dies in Jasper County Crash

9 Dec

Gazette Staff

 

Jasper County-An Avon, Indiana woman died yesterday evening, Sunday, December 8th, from injuries she received in a three vehicle crash.

Preliminary investigation by Trooper Jason Madison revealed that at approximately 5:15 p.m., yesterday, a Jeep (unknown year) driven by Ashley A Rogers, 28 of Avon, Indiana was south bound on I-65 at the 225 ½ mile marker (this is approximately 4 ½ miles south of the Demotte/Roselawn exit) lost control for unknown reasons, road conditions were snow covered and slippery at the time of the crash.

A 2003 Ford, driven by Dana R O’Brian, 37 of Gary, was south bound and came over the hill crest and saw the Jeep spinning in the roadway. O’Brian swerved to the left to avoid the Jeep but was hit on the front right side of the Ford. The Ford came to rest on the inside shoulder. O’Brian was wearing her seat belt and was not injured.

A 2007 Kenworth semi, driven by Kimberly S. Thietje, age unknown from Burlington, Wisconsin stated she was south bound and came over the hill crest when she saw the Jeep in the right lane. Thietje could not avoid hitting the Jeep. The semi went off the interstate, down into a ditch and into the fence line approximately 50 feet off the road. The Kenworth was loaded with approximately 45,000 pounds of Resin. No load was lost. Thietje was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.

Rogers was found lying on the inside shoulder next to the concrete barrier wall. It is unsure at this time if she was ejected or hit while she was outside of her Jeep.

Rogers was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer and was being transported to a Lafayette Hospital when complications arose and was rushed back to Jasper County where she died at the hospital.

Family has been notified.