Tag Archives: indiana

43 Yr. Old Registered Sex Offender Charged in Afrika Hardy Murder

21 Oct

The Abandoned House Strangler has been identified by Hammond police as 43 year old Darren Vann of Gary. Vann is a registered sex offender who is current on his registration according to records maintained by Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. Vann was arrested on Saturday in connection with the murder of 19 year old Afrika Hardy. Charges were filed this afternoon for the Murder of 19 year old Afrika Hardy from Aurora, Illinois.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Vann arranged a meeting with Hardy utilizing the site backpage.com. Hardy did not make the arranged meeting on Thursday night. On Friday at 5:30 pm Vann, who went by the screen name “Big Boy Appetite” on backpage.com, showed up at Motel 6 unannounced. After the “normal time” for such a meeting passed, Shameeka Cunningham and Eduardo Ayon, who helped to arrange meetings for Hardy, became concerned about Hardy’s welfare. The pair travelled to Motel 6 and found Afrika Hardy’s lifeless body in the bathtub.

Shameeka Cunningham dialed 9-1-1 and summoned police and ambulance personnel to the scene according to the affidavit. Upon arrival police found that “the beds were moved away from the headboards to suggest that there was possibly a struggle there.” A condom wrapper, a light colored shirt button and a fingernail were also found according to the report. Afrika Hardy had red marks on her neck, suggesting that “she had been strangled with something thin.” The coroner was called and the cause of death was determined to be strangulation. The manner of death was determined to be homicide.

During the interviews with Cunningham and Ayon, police were able to obtain information regarding a cell phone that had been utilized by “Big Boy Appetite” to arrange the meeting. Police supboenaed cellular phone records for the telephone and were led to a location in the 600 block of W. 49th Avenue in Gary according to the affidavit. Police then obtained a search warrant for that residence on October 18 and arrested Darren Deon Vann. A blue Jeep was towed and a search warrant was obtained for that vehicle. During the search, police discovered a shirt which was missing a button, an HTC cellular telephone in a pink case which matched the description of that owned by Afrika Hardy, and condoms of the same brand and type as the wrapper found in the motel room.

The affidavit states that Darren Deon Vann confessed to strangling Afrika Hardy with a cord when confronted with the evidence.

Governor Pence Authorizes Bonuses of up to $1,000 to State Employees

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Governor Pence has authorized one time, end of year bonuses to be paid to State employees. The bonuses of up to $1,000 will be based on performance reviews to be completed in January. The Governor states that the bonuses are in lieu of pay raises and will not affect the budget. We would love to hear your opinions, is this sound fiscal policy? Sound off in the comments section.  

Here is the Governor’s letter to State of Indiana employees:

Fellow State Employees,
As 2013 draws to a close, I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your service to the people of Indiana over the past year.
Through the efforts of dedicated State Employees like you, Hoosiers continue to receive quality service and support when interacting with our state government. Indiana is strong and growing stronger due, in part, to the commitment you exhibit every day in service to the public.
Because of your efficiency and commitment to fiscal discipline, Indiana leads the way with a balanced budget, AAA credit rating and a reputation for sound fiscal management.
While our present circumstances do not permit us to increase base pay, because your service to Indiana has been exemplary, I have authorized a bonus that you will receive once performance evaluations are completed in January.
Employees who meet expectations will receive a $500 bonus, those who exceed expectations will receive $750, and those rated outstanding will receive $1,000.
I hope this news will be an encouragement to you for a job well done in 2013.
Thank you for your service to the good people of Indiana. It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve alongside men and women like you.
God bless you and your family with a memorable holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely,
Governor Mike Pence

Breaking 26 Y.O. Gary Man Dies After Being Shot

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Gary, Indiana saw another homicide tonight. At approximately 9:00 p.m. the Gazette began receiving reports of a homicide in the 2100 block of Georgia Street in Gary. Gary police were reportedly searching for a suspect in a late model grand prix. The Gazette is awaiting official confirmation from the office of the lake county coroner but feel confident enough to report this homicide at this time. King Carter was the first to report this incident. Others have subsequently verified it, including family members of the victim.

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

20,000 Hoosiers to Lose Unemployment Benefits on December 28

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Indiana Department of Workforce officials are warning that up to 20,000 hoosiers will not get unemployment benefits beginning next week. The budget deal passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama does not provide for extended unemployment benefits. That means that hoosiers are eligible for 26 weeks of benefits under the Indiana plan. Those who have been receiving benefits under the federally funded extension will no longer be eligible for benefits. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development explains:

What happens to Hoosiers on unemployment when the federal extensions expire?
Unemployed Hoosiers will not be able to receive any further federally extended benefit
payments.

What can I do to help my situation before the federally extended benefits expire?
It is important for you to visit your local WorkOne as soon as possible to get help with
your job search. WorkOne staff can help you update your resume, recharge your job
search and interview skills, strengthen your computer knowledge, get your Indiana High
School Equivalency Diploma, become certified in a high-demand industry and match
your skills with new career opportunities to find a new job. All of these services and
more are free of charge. Log on to http://www.workoneworks.com to find out more.

Are there any other programs to help unemployed Hoosiers with food, rent, or other items?
Visit The Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) website at
http://www.in.gov/dwd. Click on “Unemployment for Individuals”, then click on “Resource
Guide for the Unemployed” on the left side of the page. This guide provides information
about other programs that can help while y

As of June 25, 2013, Indiana University reported 25,000 Lake County residents as unemployed. While the overwhelming majority of those are not receiving extended benefits, it is clear that many local residents will be affected. Statewide it is estimated that 20,000 will lose benefits immediately with many more losing benefits in the coming weeks when the 26 week benefit expires.

Indiana Conservation officer saves Christmas

22 Dec

Yesterday evening, shortly before 7:00 PM, EST, Josh Byrd, Pike County Highway Superintendent, was placing road barriers on flooded Pike County Road 900 East, when he heard calls for help coming from out in the flood waters. He then contacted Pike County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch. The call came at 6:52 PM. The Jefferson Township Fire Department, Pike County Deputies, and Indiana Conservation Officers responded to the scene.
Conservation Officers Jon Watkins and Shane Cooper had been responding to similar flood related calls throughout the afternoon and were equipped to address this type of emergency. Arriving at the scene, they were able to launch their patrol boat from the roadway and begin a search of the flooded corn field. Christmas was found around 9:30 PM, approximately 100 yards into the flood waters, clinging onto a bridge abutment. By the time of the rescue, he had been in the flood waters about three hours.
According to the victim, Christmas was on his way home from where he worked in Otwell and decided to attempt to ride his 4-wheeler through the flooded roadway. As the water became deeper near a bridge, he decided to turn around. His vehicle began to float and got caught in the current separating Christmas from his 4-wheeler. Christmas was carried some distance with the current until he was able to latch onto some vegetation and regain his footing. Due to the darkness he was unable to find high ground. Now barefoot, he returned to the bridge, the only high point he knew.
Michael D. Christmas, 30, of Velpen Indiana. was transported to Jasper Memorial by Pike County Ambulance where he was treated for hypothermia and released.

Stranded Bear helped by Conservation officers

22 Dec

Indiana Conservation Officers were kept busy over the weekend responding to a number of floodwater rescue calls. Even the unexpected – 500-pound black bear stranded in its cage in Shelby County. Late Sunday morning, Conservation Officers responded to a call asking them to check on the welfare of a black bear in the Fairland area that was left behind when its owner was forced to evacuate his home due to flooding in the area caused by heavy rains across central Indiana. Officers discovered the 500-pound black bear in about four feet of water but secured in its 10-foot by 12-foot enclosure. Due to safety concerns for the officers and the animal, it was determined that tranquilizing the animal was not a viable option.
However, officers were able to enter the enclosure and create an elevated platform for the bear to get above the water. While officers were on scene, it appeared the water level was receding.
State law allows a person to possess a black bear provided a permit is obtained from the Department of Natural Resources. The owner of this bear had the required permit and was following procedural requirements.

Illinois Says to Indiana: Keep Your Petcoke and Take Ours Too

22 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Hammond corporation George J. Beemsterboer, Inc. is known to many Indiana residents as the operator of the J-Pit in Gary and a contractor at local steel mills and refineries.   As operator of the J-Pit, Beemsterboer has long been known for bringing  waste into the state of Indiana.  Now Beemsterboer is under fire for allegedly moving Petcoke out of Indiana and into Illinois.

Beemsterboer recently entered into an Agreed Interim Order with the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.  According to a release issued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Order was designed to thwart a serious public health issue:

“The actions we are taking today mark a critical step forward in putting a stop to the
serious public health threat facing the residents that live near these facilities, but we will
continue to push for the strongest possible protections to ensure these conditions can
never happen again here in Chicago and across the state,”

Earlier in the month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel requested that citizens experiencing any problems with petcoke call the City’s 311 number.  Citizens reportedly complained of dust so thick they could not open their windows last summer.

The petcoke which was stored in Illinois by Beemsterboer came from a local refinery.  There are several refineries in the area which produce petcoke including BP in Whiting.  There are also refineries in Joliet and Lemont IL.  The most likely scenario now will be that petcoke from all of these refineries will be stored and shipped somewhere in Indiana or Wisconsin.

Petcoke is a byproduct of petroleum production.  The material is similar to coal in appearance.  The substance has been a byproduct of refining since the 1930’s.  It has become a national issue lately for several reasons.  The sheer quantity of petcoke has grown as local refineries have expanded.  The market for petcoke now lies outside the US, so it is primarily shipped overseas.  China is the main purchaser of petcoke products as many countries no longer allow the burning of petcoke as fuel.   Because shipping is the primary source of transporting the product, petcoke must be stored near water-in this case Lake Michigan or a local tributary.  Conveniently, Beemsterboer announced the purchase of the vacant State Line Energy plant after the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against them seeking to have the product removed from Illinois.  It has been reported that Beemsterboer will develop the State Line Energy site into condominiums.

One thing is clear, Beemsterboer is not storing petcoke in Chicago anymore.  So far officials have been mum as to future plans for storage of the material.

petcoke loaded onto barge in chicago

Petcoke is loaded onto a barge for shipment overseas

petcoke mountain in chicago

Petcoke Mountain on Chicago’s southeast side.

 

 

 

Memorial for Fallen Trooper Scott Patrick in Gary Today

21 Dec

Gazette Staff
Gary, Lake County-The Trooper Scott Patrick Memorial was unveiled this rainy, wet Saturday, December 21, 2013 evening on the I-80 east bound to Grant Street exit amidst family, friends, comrades and representatives from many other police departments.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. a Memorial marker was unveiled at the location where Trooper Scott Patrick was killed in the line of duty on Monday, December 22, 2003. Trooper Patrick was dispatched to assist a stranded motorist at the Grant Street exit when he was shot and killed.

State Representative Dr. Vernon G. Smith filed a naming resolution which was passed by both chambers of the Indiana legislature and resulted in the declaration dated January 13, 2013. These efforts were enhanced with the assistance of State Representative Shelli VanDerburgh and INDOT Deputy Commissioner Robert Alderman.

This also marks the 10th anniversary of Trooper Patrick’s death.

The ceremony included the Indiana State Police Honor Guard, the Lake County Pipes and Drums, Indiana State Police Chaplain Coffee, Senior Trooper Geoff Gruber (who was first onscene and wounded Darryl Jeter who was convicted of Scott’s death), Melissa Patrick (Scott’s widow), Isaac Scott Patrick (nine year-old son of Scott) and Jamie Patrick (Scott’s brother).

Indiana State Trooper Scott Patrick memorial

from left to right is Lieutenant Jerry Williams (Lowell District Commander), Melissa Patrick (widow), Isaac Scott Patrick (son) and Jamie Patrick (brother)