Hancock County News

Greenfield Police looking for car thieves

Police in Greenfield are looking for a group of car thieves.

 

A car and a brand-new SUV were stolen Sept. 7 from the Chapman Estates neighborhood.  Two more vehicles -- a car and a pickup truck -- were stolen Sept. 13 from the Liberty Shores neighborhood.

Police believe the thieves are also responsible for car break-ins in both neighborhoods.

 

Surveillance photos of the suspects are in the Greenfield Police posting on the department’s Facebook page.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Greenfield Police Department at 317-325-1280.

 

 

 

Rushville woman charged with stealing checks from beauty school students

A Rushville woman has been charged with theft and fraud from a Greenfield business following a police investigation.

 

Greenfield Police report Amanda Capps, 41, was arrested following several search warrants looking into reports of tuition checks never getting to students from PJ’s Beauty College.

 

Detectives found that Capps allegedly cashed and deposited several checks into her personal bank account.  It was determined that Capps stole over $70, 000 by cashing checks made out to students at the beauty school.

 

Capps was a former employee of PJ’s Beauty College and had access to the checks.

Capps was charged with Level 5 Felony theft.  She was given a $5, 000 bond during her initial court appearance.

Pay increases approved for Greenfield city council members; money needs to be found in budget

Those representing the City of Greenfield on city council could be making a little extra money next year for their public service.  The town council recently discussed an increase to council member’s salaries during their 2020 budget hearings.


And, while a measure to increase the pay by $750 was approved by a 5-2 measure, there is still plenty of work left to be done before the increase becomes a reality.


According to Lori Elmore, clerk-treasurer for the city of Greenfield, the numbers for the increases approved were not included in the numbers council was given in their budget books, therefore, the money has not been appropriated.


“They also had several other requests, which were approved that night (at the budget hearing), which were not included in the numbers, but they also approved during the budget hearing. We are in the process of including those numbers to ensure we are able to fund them in 2020,” Elmore told Giant FM.


Currently, elected officials on the town council make $5,750 each. During the budget hearing, council members Keely Butrum and Jeff Lowder voted against the raise.


Councilman Mitch Pendlum brought up the idea of discussing a possible increase in pay at the end of the budget hearing after not seeing anything mentioned by Elmore or council president, Dan Riley.
“There is no money in the budget for a council raise and there was nothing down. I knew it had been a couple of years since we got an increase in pay, and I said I would like to discuss council pay. I never asked for a raise,” Pendlum told Giant FM.


Pendlum said in 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016, council operated without an increase to their pay.


“In 2017, we got a $500 raise and in 2018, we got a $250 raise. This time we had a little discussion and that was it. Joe (Skvarenina) made the motion and Gary (McDaniel) made the second, and it went on through. The clerk-treasurer didn’t plan on anyone getting a raise. I suppose the money is there, but we will have to wait and see. It would be an increase of $28 more a pay period if it went through,” Pendlum said.


Councilman Riley, who is also the board president, said he believes the amount of time spent outside of city hall, as well as inside merits the raise.


“Council members and Board of Works members serve on several boards and committees with no additional compensation. Council members recently spent many hours on the budget. At the same time, many were working on the new zoning code and the new thoroughfare plans. Members also serve on historic boards, Riley Old Home Society Board, Greenfield Main Street, Riley Festival, HEDC and others. This is an addition to personal responsibilities to church, lodges and service clubs,” Riley said.


There has been some discussion amongst council members that raising the pay will draw “better candidates” for elected office. Riley and Pendlum offered varied perspectives.


Pendlum said in order to run for office, one has to have money and the pay increase could help candidates get their name out.


“The way I look at, when we have a primary election like the one we had in May, a candidate needs signs, door knockers, business cards, all kinds of stuff and if you don’t get paid something, you have to take it out of your own pocket. It costs money to run, and the council duty is shaped by the state law. If you don’t have a salary, it’ll make it harder for lower income residents to run and it broadens the council by offering the increase,” Pendlum said.


Riley, however, said he does not know if the pay plays a part in deciding to seek any elected office.
“I hope it doesn’t. I support compensating people for their time spent in civic duty, just as I believe an employee of private enterprise deserves compensation,” Riley told Giant FM. 


Elmore said the increase for the council and board of works members will be included in the salary ordinance, which will go before the council for first reading on Oct. 9 and then second reading and final approval on Oct. 23. Should the measure be approved, it will go into effect Dec. 14 for the 2020 fiscal year. 


“The decision will be up to them to amend when the ordinance is introduced in October, if they feel they do not want to accept the increase,” Elmore said. 

Gas City girl, age 10, found deceased

Indiana State Police issued the following information related to the search for a missing Gas City girl:

 

About 3:00 am Wednesday the four day search for missing 10-year-old Skylea Carmack came to a tragic end. Skylea’s body was located in a shed behind her Gas City home. She was hidden inside a plastic trash bag.

 

Amanda Carmack, 34, was arrested for the murder of Skylea Carmack, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery resulting in death, and strangulation. She is currently incarcerated at the Grant County Jail. Amanda Carmack was Skylea’s step mother.

 

Preliminary evidence indicates Skylea was killed approximately between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., on Saturday, August 31. Preliminary evidence indicates she was strangled. An autopsy will be conducted to verify her cause of death. 

 

The Indiana State Police was assisted by multiple law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and community volunteers during the search for Skylea. The various agencies provided equipment, manpower, intelligence gathering, and a host of other needed resources in an effort to find her. The agencies are too many to list in a press release, but their assistance was greatly appreciated.  

 

 

ORIGINAL RELEASE - September 1, 2019

 

A Statewide Silver Alert has been declared.

 

The Indiana State Police is investigating the disappearance of Skylea Rayn Carmack, a 10 year old white female, 5 feet tall, 100 pounds, blonde hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a black shirt with Mario and Luigi, black pants with red design or cherries, teal high top tennis shoes and may be carrying a pink backpack, blanket with puzzle pieces on it and a pillow.  Skylea may answer to Sky or Boog.

 

Skylea is missing from Gas City, Indiana which is 78 miles northeast of Indianapolis and was last seen on Saturday, August 31, 2019 at 4:00 pm. She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.

 

If you have any information on Skylea Rayn Carmack, contact the Indiana State Police at 765-473-6666, Gas City Police Department at 765-674-2278 or 911.

 

 

 

New Palestine man charged with running illegal gambling business

A New Palestine man is charged with running an illegal gambling business that included New Palestine High School football bets.

 

Bret Wells, 46, is charged with six felonies including corrupt business influence, professional gambling, promoting professional gambling and theft.  His business took in more than $17 million in sports bets over a three-year period. 

 

Court documents say Wells brought in over $17 million in bets that made him more than $1.8 million in profits. They also say he bet on New Palestine High School football playoff games last fall. Investigators say he made over 176,000 bets between January 2016 and May of this year.

 

The Indiana Gaming Commission says Wells was caught  through surveillance and information from a former business partner, who says Wells also stole equipment from him.

 

The gambling operation had clients in eight different central Indiana counties, investigators say.

Sugar Creek Elem teacher charged with domestic battery

A New Palestine elementary school teacher is scheduled for a Wednesday court appearance to face domestic battery charges.

 

Angela Merritt, 44, of Morristown, is listed as a 4th grade teacher on the Sugar Creek Elementary website. 

 

Merritt was booked at the Hancock County Jail Tuesday afternoon.  Charges include:

 

Domestic battery committed in physical presence of a child less than 16, knowing child present and might be able to see / hear

 

Domestic battery – battery on spouse or former spouse, live-in or former live-in, or on person with whom defendant has a child

 

The following statement was issued by the school corporation:

 

District administrators were notified Tuesday, September 3, 2019, by local law enforcement, of the arrest of Sugar Creek Elementary teacher Angela Merritt on charges of Domestic Battery and Domestic Battery in the Presence of a Child.

 

The district recognizes the seriousness of this issue and acted quickly to place Merritt on administrative leave to allow the matter to be investigated and addressed.

 

The district will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement as they continue with this investigation. The district is not at liberty to discuss any additional details regarding this matter. Any questions should be directed to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.

 

-CSCSHC Administration

Greenfield PD put added focus on bus safety

Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche finds himself in a bit of a dilemma. 

 

But he’s not complaining one bit.


The veteran law enforcement official knows that case load and call volumes typically go up during the summer months, but such has not been the case for the city of Greenfield this year.

 

“Case load and call volumes typically go up during the summer months when school is out however we have not seen a real change in volume. Knock on wood,” Rasche told Giant FM.

 

With that said, Rasche and the department have been busy tracking down robbery and drug suspects, but the attention has taken a new focus in recent weeks as school is back underway in Greenfield.

 

“We still continue to monitor what is going on in the community. Our job is a living, changing environment and we strive to keep ahead of trends, so we can be proactive rather than reactive,” Rasche said.

 

One area the department has been proactive in has been school bus safety and enforcement of Senate Bill 2, which states drivers who recklessly pass a stopped school bus can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a punishment of up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Under the law, the penalties get tougher if the driver injures or kills someone while passing a stopped school bus with its arm out.  Furthermore, a judge can suspend a license for 90 days for stop arm violations or up to a year if the person is a repeat offender.

 

Rasche told Giant FM his department has been aggressively targeting violators through unmarked cars and word of mouth.

 

“We have been aggressively targeting motorist passing school buses using unmarked cars and relying on what the bus drivers are telling us,” Rasche said.

 

In addition, Rasche said this is also the time of the year where his department sees an increase in crimes against children.

 

“This time of year, we also will see an increase in cases involving children. When they return to school, children who have been victimized or in need of services will often confide with a teacher or other school administrator. Then, under the state law, the school is required to contact DCS and law enforcement,” Rasche said. 

75 year member of Greenfield American Legion Post 119 passed away

The longest member of the Greenfield American Legion Post 119 has passed away.

 

George Robert Strubbe, age 93, of Greenfield, passed away on August 30.

 

Strubbe was born in Greenfield in 1926. He enlisted in the Navy at seventeen years-old with permission from his parents as he was not 18, the legal enlistment age. He served on LST 171 in the Asiatic Pacific Theater from June 1944 until his honorable discharge in May 1946, receiving a “Letter of Commendation” for outstanding performance of duty during operation against the enemy along with the Victory Medal, American Area Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Medal with 4 stars and a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars.

Upon returning to Greenfield George worked for the United States Post Office retiring in 1981 focusing full time on George Strubbe Excavating.

 

Strubbe was a member of the Greenfield America Legion for 75 consecutive years.

Greenfield man killed, three arrested in Henry County crash

A Greenfield man is dead and three 18-year-olds were arrested following a deadly crash in Henry County.

 

About 5:40 Sunday morning Henry County law enforcement and medical personnel responded to a crash and found James Davis, 21, of Greenfield, dead inside the car.  An 18-year-old from Spiceland had driven off the road and struck a utility polce.

 

The driver and two other passengers, from New Castle and Indianapolis, were arrested.  The driver was charged with suspicion of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, public intoxication, and minor consumption of alcohol.

Construction to begin on I-70 from Indianapolis to the Ohio state Line

Construction is scheduled to begin next week on I-70 in both directions. 

 

Contractors will be full depth patching on EB and WB I-70 from Mount Comfort Rd. to the Ohio State Line.

 

Lane closures will begin on Friday, September 6. Crews will be working 7 days a week. 

 

Lane restrictions will be in 10 mile increments at a time, starting at Mt. Comfort Road in the Eastbound lanes. One lane will be open in each direction of I-70 at all times during construction.

 

Lane restrictions will last through November. 

Suspects apprehended off campus after social threat results in lockdown

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation released the following statement on the social media threat that resulted in a Friday afternoon lockdown of its schools;

 

At the end of the school day today, a student reported to the Mt. Vernon High School administration that they had viewed a threat on social media related to an armed assailant. As our security protocols were enacted, all schools on the Fortville campus were placed on lockdown while police searched for the suspects and secured the campus.

 

Within five minutes we had 10 officers on campus and within 30 minutes we had approximately 33 officers from nine surrounding law enforcement offices, including: Fortville Police, Indiana State Police, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Greenfield Police Department, McCordsville Police Department, Shirley Police Department, Indianapolis Metro Police Department and New Palestine Police Department.

 

After police had apprehended the suspects off campus and identified that the school was safe, the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation (MVCSC) began systematically releasing students.

 

Mt. Vernon takes every threat related to student safety seriously. The student who reported the threat should be commended for bringing this to the attention of school administrators.

 

This is an optimal time to remind students, “if you see something, say something.” Student and staff safety is the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation’s number one priority.

 

We highly value our close relationship with the local law enforcement. Their swift actions resulted in a positive resolution of the matter, which helped to ensure the safety of our students. We appreciate the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that took place among law enforcement, school administration, parents, and students.

 

Dr. Jack Parker
MVCSC Superintendent

Woman tied to robberies in Hancock and Howard counties

Authorities have arrested a woman in connection to armed robberies in Howard and Hancock counties, according to the Howard County Sheriff’s Department.

 

The sheriff’s department said their investigation began after being dispatched on Aug. 17 around 4 a.m. to the Village Pantry in the 3600 block of West Sycamore Street in Kokomo. Deputies were responding to a call of an armed robbery.

 

After arriving on the scene, deputies were informed that a black woman entered the convenience store wearing a mask, pointed a gun at the manager and demanded both cash and lottery tickets. The female suspect then fled the scene in a dark-colored Jeep Liberty.

 

While working on the case, deputies received information that an armed robbery took place on Aug. 16 at a McDonald’s in Hancock County. Both the suspect and vehicle in that robbery were very similar to the armed robbery in Howard County.

 

Then, deputies said, on Aug. 22, an arrest warrant was issued for Tere McCall, who had ties to the Kokomo area.

 

According to deputies, Hancock County sheriff’s detectives learned that McCall, who had abandoned her home, was preparing to leave the state.

 

Detectives were able to track McCall down at an apartment complex in the Indianapolis area, and arrested her. She has been transported to the Hancock County Jail, facing preliminary charges for armed robbery and theft.

New Palestine man charged in child porn case in Alabama

A Hancock County man has been arrested on child pornography charges in Alabama.

 

Ian Kennedy, 31, of New Palestinem was arrested August 20 in Trussville, Alabama.  Authorities there served a search warrant at a family member's home where Kennedy was staying.  Child porn was found on multiple electronic devices.

 

Police say they were tipped off by information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

 

Kennedy faces 22 counts including production of pornography with minors; possession of child pornography; and dissemination or display of child pornography.

 

Police are still investigating and additional charges could be filed.

Bicyclist struck, killed by drunk driver

An intoxicated driver was arrested following a crash that killed a bicyclist in Hancock County.

 

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department issued a release of the name of the bicyclist, Rodger Wellenreiter, 76, of Greenfield. 

 

The incident happened in the area of 1500 West 300 North.  The driver of the motor vehicle, Robert terry, 40, of Greenfield, was not injured in the collision.  He did remain at the scene waiting for officers to arrive and was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated – causing death (Level 4 Felony) and driving while suspended – causing death (Level 5 Felony).

Libby's Ice Cream filling the void and stomach in Fortville

For Libby Wyatt, it was about filling a need in the town she loves and lives in.

 

Earlier this year, Wyatt and her husband changed their business in Fortville, adding an ice cream shop and giving residents an opportunity to have the treat they had missed after another shop closed.

 

"I have had the retail business since July 2016 where we offered an eclectic selection of home goods, kitchen gadgets and toys. My husband and I shutdown StoreHouse in May and reopened June 10  with a renovated, reinvented and renewed shop with ice cream ," Wyatt told Giant FM.

Libby's Ice Cream is open at 11 South Main Street, Fortville. The business is closed Monda's but open Tuesday through Thursday noon until 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 9:30 and Sundays from 2-8.

 

Wyatt told Giant FM, she used to have a front window view of the previous ice cream shop and knew people were missing ice cream.

 

 "The town was missing ice cream, and they are thankful to have it again. And its really good ice cream," Wyatt said.

 

Wyatt said she is serving Sundae's Ice Cream, which is local, and, according to her, is "amazingly delicious."

"We offer sugar, cake, and waffle cones and bowls in a variety of scoop sizes. Milkshakes, malts, rootbeer floats and sundaes are also available. The most fun dish to have alone or share with friends is our flight, which is a sampling of four flavors of your choice," Wyatt said.

 

For those wondering, the retail portion of the store is still in business, according to Wyatt.

 

"We offer popular brands such as Natural Life, Melissa and Doug, Joseph and Joseph and Jody Realsor jewelry, as well as local favorites," Wyatt said.

 

With the temperatures cooling recently, Wyatt says customers shouldn't fret as ice cream is good year round.

 

"We are looking forward to the fall season and will be open year round. We offer gift cards and are big supporters of local charities and community events," Wyatt said.  

New Palestine moving ahead with high school construction, renovation

It is full steam ahead on a project that will bring about significant changes to New Palestine High School following this week's school board meeting.

 

This week, the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County approved several resolutions that will move the project forward. The biggest is a resolution determining need, which acknowledges the district has a need to renovate the high school and surrounding site. In addition, the district approved a resolution approving formation of a building corporation and a resolution approving plans form of lease anx authorizing publication of notice of a lease hearing. A public hearing on the lease will be held Sept. 9th at the district office during the regular board meeting. 

According to Wes Anderson, director of school and community relations for the district, the next step is to issue bids for the Multi-purpose room to be built on the Southeastern corner of the building. 

 

"This building must be completed and ready to house temporary classrooms before renovation work on the high school can begin," Anderson told Giant FM. 

 

Anderson said the administration and construction team continue working on finalizing potential designs. 

 

Discussion of the renovations have dominated school board meetings for several months. 

Earlier this summer, Robert Yoder, assistant superintendent for the district, showed off and discussed preliminary drawings of areas that would be demolished, including the current English/Math wing on the northeast side of the current facility. In addition, those in attendance learned where new classrooms and structures will be added to the existing building.  

 

"There are lots of parts of the high school that can be used. We are not building a new high school," said Yoder, adding the district is hopeful the project can start in the fall and has an anticipated conclusion or the 2022-23 school year. 

 

Financial impact

Officials have said the cost of the project is $49 million and will be paid through bonds.

"We've worked hard on being financially responsible to the taxpayers while addressing a need," Yoder said.

 

One area that will help in the financing of the project is $34 million worth of 20-year bonds for construction projects are about to come off the tax rolls. Yoder said that money will be applied to the $49 million without increasing the tax rate.

 

As a result, the tax rate will be raised only on the remaining $15 million.

 

Yoder presented various scenarios on how this would impact taxpayers. 

 

For example, if the district’s assessed value grows by at least 2 percent, residents owning a home with a true tax value assessed at $100,000 would see a projected increase of $56. It raises to $109 on a $150,000 home and $160 on a $200,000 home

Paul Casey now officially Chief of Police in McCordsville

After a rocky couple of months, the McCordsville Police Department has a new chief and he is ready to lead, serve and protect all of the Town of McCordsville. 

 

Recently, the interim tag was removed before Paul Casey’s name, and the second police chief in the history of McCordsville took his oath, officially making him the new chief of police. With the hiring, Casey replaces Harold Rodgers, who retired earlier this year.


Casey told Giant FM he feels “excited and humbled to have the opportunity.


“A lot of hard work and time has been put in by more people than I can mention to keep the police department moving in a pro-active and positive direction,” Casey said.


As he gets used to being in a new seat, Casey said his goal remains the same as when he was a Major and interim chief – to serve and protect the citizens.


“The primary goal is to continue to provide high quality police services to the residents of the Town of McCordsville. I will continue to seek out the best and most efficient ways to provide new and challenging training for our officers. I will continue to find creative ways to put citizens and officers in situations where they can interact and communicate on a more regular basis,” he said.


Casey also told Giant FM that while there was the transition, there are many strengths to the department, stating there are a core group of experienced officers and a town staff that has been supportive.


“In a very short period of time, the police department has become a destination location for future police officers. My main initiative is to find and hire the best and brightest people we can find. If possible, I would prefer officers that are tied to the community and have a sense of ownership and want to call McCordsville home,” Casey said.


Casey does have one piece of advice for citizens – get to know your neighbors.


“If something seems wrong or you have not seen them when you normally would, check on them or call and have us check on them. The more eyes we have helping us, the better chance we all have of keeping our community safe. If you see something, say something. Call dispatch at 317-477-4400 if you see any suspicious activity or something that is not normal, and an officer will be sent to assist you,” Casey said.


Casey also told Giant FM he is going to continue searching for ways to integrate technology into the community and increase the department’s level of communication with residents.


Mark Walker, president of the Board of Metropolitan Police Commissioners for McCordsville, praised Casey, stating he was the best candidate.


“His fresh, new ideas, initiatives and officer buy-in were all determining factors. The department had been in a fragile state since Chief Rodgers’ departure, and interim chief Casey weathered the storm and brought the department through, and we are now poised for rapid growth both in the town and police department,” Walker told Giant FM. 

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