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Hancock County News Archives for 2019-09

Monday starts with car break-ins for McCordsville PD

The McCordsville area kicked off the new week with a rash of vehicle break-ins, according to officials.

According to Detective Aaron Watts, a group of subjects were seen in the Austin Trace subdivision, specifically on Denton Court, before 6 a.m. Monday breaking into unlocked cars.

Watts is asking those who live in the area to check their exterior cameras to see if they picked up any footage of the crimes.

Watts told Giant FM that the department has been made aware by surrounding towns and cities of vehicle break-ins over the past few weeks.

“Generally, but not always, these suspects are walking car to car pulling on door handles until they find an unlocked one,” Watts told Giant FM.

There are several tips Watts has offered residents.

“The best and easiest advice for residents is to lock their car doors and keep valuables out of plain sight. It is best to remove all valuables from vehicles, which include garage door openers, house keys, any kind of identifying information, etc.,” Watts told Giant FM.

Stacy's Sharing Closet finds home in New Pal schools

Families needing help within New Palestine Elementary School and the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County are getting a boost from one of their own. 


Stacy Bancroft and her husband, Kip, have made a dream become a reality with Stacy's Sharing Closet, which is a free shop located in the school's cafeteria.


"Kip and I have talked for many years about what we could do to give back to our community. The thought of a community clothing closet took root years ago. When we became empty nesters late August, we thought the time was right and felt the need was increasing," Bancroft told Giant FM. 


The closet is designed to help anyone in need of clothing for their child, regardless of circumstances. Bancroft told Giant FM they have provided clothing for families after fires, foster children and safe families.


"We are hopeful that parents will be more apt to use our closet when the need arises because it offers them a dignified, safe boutique like setting within our school to select clean, gently used or new clothing. It is hard enough to ask for help, so we want to make it as easy and welcoming as possible," the first grade teacher said.


Bancroft said it is a fairly simple process to get help.


"In some cases, the parents have contacted us and we set up a time to come into the closet. In other cases, teachers have identified a possible need and our school social worker has reached out to parents," she told Giant FM.


Bancroft said they are in need of donations of gently used or new clothing and it can be dropped off at New Palestine Elementary, New Palestine Jr. High or Sugar Creek Elementary. 


"We also accept new packages of socks, pajamas and underwear all sizes," she said. 


For more information, contact Bancroft at stacy@stacyssharingcloset.org or by visiting www.stacyssharingcloset.org

Greenfield man charged for driving while intoxicated in car - pedestrian accident

A Greenfield man has been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated when he struck and injured a woman.


Greenfield Police and Greenfield Fire responded to a car – pedestrian accident near the intersection of East McKenzie Road and North Brandywine Street just after 8:00 pm Thursday.


The Hancock County Fatal Accident Crash Team was also called to investigate.


Jeremy Thompson, 39, was the driver of a 2008 Pontiac G6 involved in the accident.   He was later arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing catastrophic injury.


Kathy Davis, 71, of Greenfield, was airlifted from Hancock Regional to St. Vincent in Indianapolis.  At last update, she was listed in critical condition.

Foul play not suspected as autopsy identifies McCordsville remains

Human remains discovered in April in McCordsville have now been identified.


According to McCordsville Police Detective Aaron Watts, the remains have been identified as McCordsville resident Patricia Dipasquale, 57. Dipasquale had been missing since January of 2017 and the remains were identified through dental records.


“According to the Hancock County Coroner’s Office, a cause of death was unable to be determined at this time due to the extent of the decomposition. The Hancock County Coroner’s Office stated foul play is not suspected,” Watts wrote in a release.


On Saturday, April 27, officers with the McCordsville Police Department were dispatched to the 6500 block of West County Road 900 North after receiving a call of possible human skeletal remains. One day later, five scientists from the University of Indianapolis, including Dr. Krista Latham, director of the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center, recovered the remains.


“The McCordsville Police Department would like to thank the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Hancock County Coroner’s Office, Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office, the Indiana State Police and the University of Indianapolis for their continued assistance in this investigation,” Watts said.


Watts said the case is still under investigation and no further details are available at this time. 

Greenfield looking into beekeeping in city limits

Thanks to the Indiana General Assembly, Greenfield city officials are left mulling over an ordinance regulating beekeeping within the city limits.


Earlier this month, the Greenfield City Council discussed an ordinance allowing beekeeping to comply with a new Indiana law that began July 1. Previously, the city banned beekeeping within the city limits, but the state law states cities and towns can no longer ban beekeeping.

With that said, Greenfield officials are looking to regulate several factors of the hobby, but not everyone is sold that the ordinance is necessary.

Both Keely Butrum and Mitch Pendlum voted against the ordinance, which passed 5-2.

Pendlum told Giant FM the ordinance is designed to protect the town.

“When the state came down and made a law that cities cannot stop people from raising bees, our attorney drew up an ordinance to protect the city, and that is how this ordinance was initiated. People have been raising bees, but there are hives in trees and near homes. Bees will find their own home unless you buy a hive with a queen. They are afraid if we spray for mosquitoes, we will kill the hives and this keeps us from a liability. We want to protect the town from possible lawsuits,” Pendlum said.

Council president Dan Riley echoed those sentiments.

“We had an existing ordinance that was invalidated by the legislature. We need to amend the ordinance that was on the books to make it legal, we want to assure the public is safe and we want beekeepers to be aware of city insecticide spraying practices,” Riley told Giant FM.

Under the ordinance, the city can limit the number of hives permitted on a property. For those with a lot size of 6,000 square feet or less, there will be two hives, and for those with a lot size between 6,000 and 7,2000 square feet, there can be four hives. The max number is eight hives for lots that are 12,000 square feet or more.

The ordinance also calls for a flyway barrier of at least six feet in height that shall shield any part of a property line that is within 25 feet of a hive, all hives must be at least 25 feet from any dwelling or primary structure and at least 10 feet from the property line, and every beekeeper has to register with the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Etymology and Plant Pathology prior to April 1., and register with the city’s clerk-treasurer.

Pendlum said the idea behind the registration is so the city can alert beekeepers of when the town is going to spray for mosquitoes.

However, he said he agrees with beekeepers and others who say it is an overreach.

“It is absolutely an overreach. We have raised bees in my family and have people here in town that raise bees, and we haven’t had to do anything like this in the past,” he said.
Riley, however, disagrees.

“Public safety concerns are not an overreach any more than speed limits or stop signs,” Riley told Giant FM.

The council opted to form a committee to discuss the ordinance.

Riley said the committee has to act.

“We have to do something because of an obsolete ordinance. State law permits beekeeping, and we cannot prevent it,” he said. 

Fortville PD hosting Community Night Out Saturday

While Mother Nature may have gotten the best of Fortville in June, Fortville Police Chief Bill Knauer is resilient.  For that reason, the Fortville Police Department will be trying to hold their annual "Community Night Out" this Saturday.


The festivities begin at 3 p.m. at Landmark Park on East Street and will feature a cookout, vendors, games and music.


Chief Knauer said the event is an important one.


"First and foremost, it gives us an opportunity, as police officers, to engage with the community. It also gives the community an opportunity to see the police as regular people just doing a different job," Knauer told Giant FM.


In addition, there will be fire trucks on hand, SWAT vehicles and plenty of activities for children. 


"I believe it helps build a partnership with the community, and it gives the community, as a whole, an opportunity to get together and share with each other their families and kids at no expense to the taxpayers. This is an event I look forward to every year as I always get to meet new people and see old friends in town," Knauer said. 


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.