In The News
November 22, 2017
Schools, law enforcement take steps to ensure safe Thanksgiving travels
By Joshua Heath Greensburg Daily News
GREENSBURG — Law enforcement traveled to North Decatur Jr./Sr. High School (NDHS) on Tuesday, Nov. 21, to warn parents and teens of the dangers of underage drinking and impaired driving. Six area law-enforcement agencies joined forces with over 200 student participants at a crowd of over 2,000 with school administrators. According to NDHS, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most dangerous times for underage and binge drinking as college students and young adults return home to gather with friends and family. Area law enforcement’s Decatur County Underage Drinking Task Force spoke before Tuesday’s game between the NDHS Chargers and the Greensburg Community High School Pirates and warned of increased enforcement, and also educated those in attendance. School officials from all three Decatur County schools were present. “On average, more than one-third of Thanksgiving day holiday period travel deaths are following alcohol-impaired drivers,” NDHS Assistant Principal Jeremy Powers said. “Since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known for its high volume of travel and alcohol consumption, we are asking drivers to be particularly diligent at the start of the holiday period.” Powers also added that in the last four years, more than 800 people have died as a result of alcohol-impaired driving during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which is from 6 p.m. Wednesday night until 6 a.m. Monday morning. “Our law enforcement partners are here tonight to encourage you to not drink and drive and avoid underage drinking,” said Powers. “As we have united as one team to address this issue.” The assistant principal also mentioned that those who host underage drinking parties stand to lose the most and that when tips (222-TIPS) are received, law enforcement will contact the property owner to let them know they’re aware of the planned events. Increased patrols in those areas will then follow. “Our job is to save lives,” Decatur County Community Schools Superintendent Jarrod Burns said prior to the game. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. And during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent. Essentially, with more people on the road and more crowded highways, chances for automobile accidents may be higher.
July 13, 2017
Westport Marshals: Body found in wooded area
By Amanda Browning Greensburg Daily News
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said the body was positively identified as that of Jamilyn Valdovia. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington clarified that an autopsy will be needed in order to conclusively identify the body found Wednesday. W
ESTPORT – The search for a Westport woman missing since June 26 may have ended tragically Wednesday when police discovered a body near the Westport dam. Westport Town Marshal Talkington said a search party was organized to find Jamilyn Valdovia at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Participating in the search were the Westport Town Marshals, Decatur County Sheriff Greg Allen, Westport Volunteer Fire Department, Indiana Conservation Officers, and two volunteers. Westport Fire Department and Decatur County EMT workers were on standby in case anyone was injured. The searchers started at the Westport Dam, Valdovia's last known location. They spread out along the east and west banks, with DNR officers in the water, and began searching to the south. The area south of the dam is heavily wooded and on private property. Talkington said members of the Westport Town Marshals located a body along the east bank in a thicket of bushes approximately one half-mile south of the Westport Dam at around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday. Talkington said it appears the deceased person accessed that part of the land through the water. “I’d like to say thanks for the support of the neighboring properties to the dam for allowing law enforcement to access the property,” Talkington said. “That was a big help. The farm opened up all the gates. It’s a strictly wooded area and the water was up high.” An autopsy is scheduled for Friday. It could take several weeks for the results to be known. Talkington said nothing at the scene led investigators to suspect foul play or suspicious activity. Items believed to belong to Valdovia were found near the remains, including a purse, Talkington said. After the body was located, Talkington said the Decatur County Coroner’s Office, and Indiana State Police (ISP) techs and detectives were contacted to investigate the scene. According to Talkington, ISP will be conducting the ongoing investigation, which is normal procedure for a missing persons case believed to have resulted in a death.
June 24, 2017
8 arrested in Westport drug bust
By Amanda Browning Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Eight people were cited with seven people jailed Thursday after a search warrant was served at a W. Washington St. home in Westport. Daniel Smith, 27, of Westport, was arrested by Westport Town Marshals Thursday morning on charges of possession of methamphetamine (level 4 felony), possession of a syringe (level 6 felony), possession of a controlled substance (level 6 felony), possession of marijuana (A misdemeanor) and possession of paraphernalia (C misdemeanor). Smith also received a habitual offender enhancement due to the presence of a minor child and previous felony convictions. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington said Smith had recently been bonded out after a three-year jail stay. Talkington believes that Smith’s criminal activity picked up shortly after his release, thanks to the efforts of local citizens working to report crime in the area. Cell phone conversations obtained through a search warrant helped build the case, as did video taken by a concerned resident that shows potted marijuana plants outside the residence. Talkington said the Westport Town Marshals have executed several search warrants at the home in the past, which added credibility to the report of criminal activity. “He has a long criminal history of theft of drugs. He was just released,” Talkington said. “During the investigation, obviously, the crimes haven’t stopped since he’s been out.” Prior to the execution of Thursday’s search warrant, Talkington said the investigation had resulted in other arrests as well. Phone records allegedly indicate that Smith was involved in the sale and distribution of numerous illegal substances. “We want to thank the community in Westport for the information that they provide,” Talkington said. “That’s what started this investigation.” In the execution of the search warrant, officers found multiple illegal items and substances in the residence. Located on the property were 12 marijuana plants, methamphetamine, various forms of marijuana, paraphernalia, syringes, cell phones and tablets, cash and gift cards, and prescription medication. Also cited with 7 total people jailed during the investigation on charges of possession of marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance were Mark Smith, 33; Alice Smith, 63; Myndi Ruiz, 32; Harold A. Smith, 80, Paul Smith, 23; and Nathan Smith, 19, who also received a charge for possession of a controlled substance. Tina Garcia, 26, of Lemon Grove, California, was arrested on a charge of visiting a common nuisance. However, Garcia has an active warrant out of Los Angeles for a “dangerous drug charge,” according to Talkington. The Decatur County Jail will contact law enforcement in California to determine if extradition will take place. Talkington reiterated his gratitude to the people of Westport for their vigilance and willingness to take an active role in improving the health and safety of the town. “I want to thank the community for their efforts and information keeping the town safe and drug-free,” Talkington said.
October 25, 2016
Man accused of molesting child multiple times
By Brent Brown Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – A 25-year-old man was arrested Friday night on the suspicion he sexually molested a boy on multiple occasions while the child was in his care. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington and Deputy Marshal Ryan Arbuckle headed an investigation into accusations Marecio Palomino, 2600 block of W. CR 850 S., Greensburg, engaged in various forms of sexual conduct with a boy under the age of 14, according to court documents. The incidents are believed to have taken place between September 2014 and December 2015 at a residence in Westport. The child told his parents of the incidents earlier this month, leading to the criminal investigation. The boy met with police and a forensic investigator at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana Oct. 20 and detailed the acts perpetrated by Palomino, which investigators believe took place at least five times. The child said in court documents that Palomino told him not to tell anyone about the alleged abuse. Arbuckle wrote in a police report that he believed the child’s claims were credible. A warrant for Palomino’s arrest was issued the following day. A person close to Palomino told investigators that the suspect had once been suspected of similar abuse by a relative. The witness told police that he believes the previous allegations were not brought to the attention of authorities due to Palomino’s status as a non-citizen of the United States. Talkington told the Daily News that Palomino was arrested at a residence late Friday and subsequently confessed to the crimes. The town marshal said the suspect initially fled into a bedroom of the home but offered no resistance after police followed him. Palomino allegedly admitted to the crimes during an interview with Talkington following his arrest. Palomino is charged with a single count of child molesting, a Level 1 felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison under state law. Palomino’s initial hearing in Decatur County Superior Court was held Monday, during which a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf. Bond was set at $1 million. It was unclear Monday if Palomino had an attorney. A counsel status hearing is set for Nov. 30 and the case is scheduled to go to trial at 8:30 a.m. March 8, 2017. The suspect remained incarcerated at the Decatur County Jail as of press time Monday.
April 15, 2016
Police K-9s show off for animal science class
By Brent Brown Greensburg Daily News
GREENSBURG – The work of two veteran police officers and their accomplished K-9 partners took center stage Thursday as a group of Greensburg Community High School (GCHS) students saw firsthand the skills of a duo of drug-sniffing dogs. Students in Greg Schneider’s animal science class were joined by numerous teachers, administrators and fellow students for presentations by Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Goodfellow and Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington. The pair of police officers were joined by their four-legged constant companions who put on a show aimed at entertaining and educating students on the role the animals play in snuffing out substance abuse in Decatur County. Goodfellow and Talkington put Rango, a Labrador retriever, and Darco, a Belgian malinois, through their paces for the large group of clearly appreciative students, showcasing the dogs’ skills and explaining how the animals aid police work – both in drug detection and by searching for items that could be used as evidence in a criminal case. Rango, who has served as Goodfellow’s K-9 partner for about two and a half years, demonstrated his ability to find illicit substances hidden within various everyday items, and also objects stashed within new training equipment. The scent boxes, called “K-9 Pro Launch,” used in Thursday’s demonstration have become an invaluable part of the near-constant training process. The boxes launch tennis balls as rewards for successful discoveries and aid the animal’s focus in his duties. The equipment was purchased with funds raised by students in Linda Smith and Sherill Tarplee’s North Decatur Elementary School class earlier this year. Goodfellow explained that Rango is capable of finding marijuana, MDMA (commonly known as “ecstasy”), heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine in essentially any hiding place, even when attempts to conceal the scent by masking it with the smells of other items are made. The deputy said Rango is often successful in his work and recently helped corral 20 grams of crystallized methamphetamine and 50 grams of marijuana police believe may be connected to a powerful drug cartel. Goodfellow also discussed the differences between dogs trained to follow and bite dangerous suspects and the two furry narcotics detectives presently employed in the Tree County. One of the major differences is the number of years of service, as drug detection dogs are much more likely to have long police careers, Goodfellow noted. As in-depth as drug detection is, the task is a bit of a game for Rango, Darco and other K9s as the police pooches are well aware that a reward awaits after a successful find. In Rango’s case, a special squeeze toy is lovingly chewed and nuzzled after performing his duties. Darco’s demonstration went just as well with the excitable dog relishing his time in the spotlight – and the several tennis balls he gnawed upon as a reward. Darco is relatively new to his police work, having begun his duties under Talkington’s tutelage in November. Keno, a K-9 who previously worked with Talkington, Goodfellow and Decatur County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Eric Blodgett, died unexpectedly last fall of a stomach ailment. Goodfellow described Darco as a “German shepherd on Red Bull,” drawing laughter from the students. The energetic dog can sniff out the same drugs as Rango and has been a valuable resource in narcotic detection in Westport. The officers also took time to explain the importance of staying up-to-date on certifications, which is particularly necessary if the dog’s findings are challenged in court, and the day-to-day training required of the animals. Goodfellow mentioned that he and Talkington put in at least 16 hours of training work with the dogs each month. The immense expense of the K-9 programs and the gratitude the officers have for the community’s support – both morally and financially – were addressed as well. Goodfellow also took time to explain the close relationship between handler and canine charge, which transcends police work and crosses into pet ownership. Rango is one of four dogs in the Goodfellow household – and he’s likely the most lovably rambunctious. “When it comes to listening he’s probably the worst of the bunch,” Goodfellow joked. The affection was clearly shared by the dogs who routinely stood on their hind legs, front paws resting on the officers’ chests. Schneider, the teacher who reached out to Goodfellow to bring the program to his classroom, posed several questions to the law enforcement officers throughout the program. He told the Daily News he feels the experience was a valuable one for his students. “It’s learning by doing,” Schneider said. “That enhances the learning experience.” The students, for their part, were clearly interested in the program. C.J. Johnson, a sophomore, said he hopes to become a K-9 officer someday. Thursday was the first time C.J. had seen the demonstration, which is conducted several times throughout the year, primarily at local elementary schools. St. Mary’s School hosted the officers and their K-9 partners Wednesday afternoon. C.J. noted that he enjoyed the program and was impressed that Rango and Darco were so consistently successful in their work. “I was actually pretty surprised at him going toward the narcotics,” C.J. remarked with a smile. At the end of the program C.J. had the honor of giving Rango a few well-deserved belly rubs, which the lively dog celebrated with ample tail-wagging and happy squeals.
April 14, 2016
Deputies Bust Alledged Meth Manufacturers
By Brent Brown Greensburg Daily News
JENNINGS COUNTY – A collaborative investigation by the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department and Westport Town Marshals led to the arrest of two Greensburg residents and a North Vernon man alleged to have been involved in the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington said he received an anonymous tip last week that a wanted man was staying at a residence on CR 925 N. in Jennings County. Talkington said a warrant for Edward Dale Richardson, 53, had been issued on the suspicion he was involved in manufacturing methamphetamine. Westport officers, including Deputy Marshal Ryan Arbuckle and reserve Deputy Marshal John Organist, held a strategic meeting with Jennings County Sheriff’s Sergeant Allen Ritchie and several other deputies to outline measures to take Richardson into custody. Talkington said officers were aware other suspects might be involved after linking reports of a suspicious vehicle in Westport to Steven Fletcher, 33, of Greensburg. Talkington said law enforcement officials believe Fletcher is a source of methamphetamine production and sales in Decatur and Jennings Counties. Police converged on the rural residence at around 7 p.m. Friday and saw two men run from the home into the woods behind it. Officers gave chase and followed the suspects, quickly catching up to Richardson – who surrendered without further incident – within a short distance of the home. Fletcher continued to run, however, and was hit with an officer’s electronic stun weapon about 200 yards from where the pursuit began. Talkington said Fletcher fell into a metal ramp after being hit with a police Taser, “severely” injuring his face. Officers immediately called for medical assistance at the scene. Fletcher was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent Jennings Hospital in North Vernon. He was subsequently transported to an Indianapolis medical facility for further treatment and was later released. Talkington said charges for Fletcher are pending with Jennings County prosecutors. Fletcher was convicted in February 2015 in Decatur County on charges of possession of chemical reagents or precursors with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance, and possession of methamphetamine. Richardson was jailed on an outstanding warrant as well as preliminary charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of two or more precursors, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and maintaining a common nuisance, all of which are felonies. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting law enforcement, Talkington said. A third suspect, Logan Ramey, 20, of Greensburg, was also arrested Friday after being found on the property, according to the Westport Town Marshal. Ramey faces preliminary felony charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of two or more precursors, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, and maintaining a common nuisance. Talkington said the investigation is ongoing.
December 8, 2015
Two arrested on drug charges after traffic stop
By Joshua Heath Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT — Two Decatur County residents are facing felony and misdemeanor charges after police allegedly discovered methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in their vehicle this past weekend. Marvin Giddings, 47, and Ashley Hampton, 28, were arrested after a traffic stop on State Road 3 due to an expired license plate, according to court documents. Westport Reserve Deputy Marshal Damon Land was sitting in his patrol car in the parking lot of Clarkson’s Grocery Store when an SUV was driving northbound on West Street. Land then noticed that the license plate was expired. The officer would eventually activate his emergency lights heading northbound on State Road 3 to stop the vehicle. According to documents, as Land approached the vehicle, he allegedly smelled an odor that is associated with burning methamphetamine. Land allegedly asked the female driver, Hampton, if there was anything illegal in the vehicle to which she replied “no.” After running Hampton’s license with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, dispatch notified Land that the license was suspended. Court documents stated that the passenger in the vehicle, Giddings, was then approached and asked for a valid ID. After the passenger explained to the officer that he did not have a license, Giddings allegedly handed Land an Indiana identification card. Again, according to court documents, the officer noticed a blue container in a pocket of the console with a blue bag hanging out of it along with an open box of clear plastic bags on the floor board. In the officer’s report, he noted that he saw what appeared to be the wooden stock of a gun on the floor board in the backseat. After running the passenger’s Indiana identification card, the officer noticed Giddings allegedly exiting the vehicle before being ordered to stop; the suspect was eventually placed in handcuffs. Giddings allegedly explained to Land that he had a small amount of marijuana and a few pills in his front pocket. Giddings then apparently told the officer that there was a rifle in the car and that it was loaded. In Land’s report, he wrote that he confiscated the weapon and placed it in the trunk of his patrol car. After searching the vehicle, documents say the blue container was removed and contained what appeared to be baggies of a “white, rock-like substance” and a small bag of what was described as a “plant substance.” Under the passenger seat, the officer allegedly found a bag of hypodermic needles and a glass pipe containing burnt residue. Court documents later noted that the search later resulted in the finding of a BB gun in the glovebox. As a result, Land placed the driver, Hampton, in handcuffs. Court documents also noted that the rock-like substance allegedly found in the vehicle did test positive for methamphetamine. Hampton is currently facing charges of possession of methamphetamine, a Level 5 felony; driving while suspended, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. Giddings is facing charges of possession of methamphetamine; unlawful possession or use of legend drug or precursor, a Level 6 felony; possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor and possession of paraphernalia. Hampton and Giddings were both incarcerated at the Decatur County Jail by press time Monday.
December 2, 2015
A Tale of Two Dogs: Late Westport K-9 Remembered, New Recruit Making Fast Progress
By Brent Brown Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Watchful protector. Dedicated community servant. Fearless partner and friend. Keno, a Westport Town Marshals K-9, was all of those things – and so much more – to his handlers and the community he served. When Keno died unexpectedly in late October, he left behind a legacy of high quality police work for two different county law enforcement agencies as well as a long list of fellow officers, friends and admirers who mourned the dog’s passing as much as they celebrated his impact on a program that has proven itself vital, time and again, in substance abuse prevention efforts. In the weeks since Keno’s passing, a new dog has stepped up to fill the sizable void left behind by the gentle-yet-fiercely-loyal German shepherd. Darco, a Belgian malinois, has been on the job since early November and is already making an impact on county law enforcement, Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington, the handler of Keno and Darco, said. Still mourning the loss of Keno, Talkington said the kindness shown by the Westport community – and Decatur County as a whole – has bolstered his resolve in the program. The Westport Marshal said he has utilized that support and the emotional experience of losing his K-9 partner as further motivation during Darco’s extensive training process. On the job Darco arrived in Decatur County early last month thanks to a little help from Talkington’s extensive network of K-9 officer contacts Darco was sent from the Netherlands and purchased using community donations, money acquired from a drug case forfeiture, and sales of t-shirts featuring Keno. The process sent Talkington to Tennessee to pick up the dog and begin the process of the two officers getting accustomed to one another. Since then, Darco’s days have consisted of training, training and more training – and the 2-year-old “maligator” has been more than up to the task. Talkington said Darco has achieved certification from the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWADA), a K-9 officer assistance program that adheres to established training standards and accreditations and encourages continuing education via workshops. The four-legged officer is also capable of narcotics detection and can signal to his handler the presence of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Talkington said he works with Darco for two to three hours each night, usually after finishing an eight hour patrol shift. The results, the veteran police officer said, have been highly positive. “I’m very pleased,” Talkington told the Daily News. “We have a lot of training hours in, but he just keeps improving.” Talkington said he makes use of a vacant field near Westport Cemetery for some training exercises, while community members have offered other buildings after business hours for Darco to test his sniffing prowess. The duo also travels regularly to sites in Jeffersonville and Scottsburg to train. Thus far, Darco has passed each test with flying colors. “He’s comfortable,” Talkington said. “He has no fear … as soon as I pop my [police cruiser] door, he’s ready to go.” That energy, known as “ball drive” among K-9 handlers, is an asset for Darco. The young Belgian malinois is highly focused, Talkington said, and his energy has impressed other officers. Darco’s commitment to his cause is so strong, in fact, that he will even pass up food to retrieve his sought-after ball – his reward for conducting his police duties. The nonstop energy is common among the malinois breed, which are often cheekily referred to as “maligators.” “That’s the way these dogs are bred,” Talkington said. “It’s good breeding … they’re in overdrive all the time.”Similar duties, different personalities Darco’s relentless drive differs from the more mature, gentle nature for which Keno was known, but Talkington said both dogs, in their own ways, have made their respective marks on local law enforcement. Whereas Keno enjoyed the adulation often shown to him by fellow officers, community members and children present for K-9 program demonstrations, Darco’s intense focus has left less time for that sort of thing thus far. Darco has visited a daycare, Talkington said, and he performed admirably for about 15 kids. But Talkington’s new partner is not yet the calm, attention-loving dog his predecessor was. “They’re two very different dogs,” the Westport Marshal said. Both, however, have paid positive dividends in county drug enforcement. Darco, with help from Decatur County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Rango, recently aided one of the largest drug busts in Westport history. Three suspects were arrested in that case. Keno, who often joined Rango in recent police dog programs conducted at local and area elementary schools, was renowned for his abilities in narcotic detection and tracking. He also possessed a skill at reading people and understanding developing situations that Darco may achieve in time. A great deal of that comes with maturity, the veteran dog handler said. “Keno was a more personable dog,” Talkington said. “That doesn’t mean Darco is more aggressive or meaner, because he’s not. They’re just different. Keno was more mature and he knew if there was danger. He could read people.”Lasting legacy Keno, who began his career with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department in 2009, died unexpectedly of a stomach ailment the morning of Oct. 26. In the wake of that sad news, Talkington said the Westport community offered an outpouring of support. Cards and letters poured into the Westport Police station, many from children who recalled seeing Keno at K-9 demonstrations at their school. Keno, in fact, was slated to perform alongside Rango at county elementary schools that day. The support, for Talkington, has been overwhelming. It’s also stood as a reminder to him of the program’s importance in the Decatur County community. “It’s touching,” Talkington said Tuesday. “It makes it all worth the while and makes you want to continue the program when you have positive comments.” Comments came from past handlers of Keno soon after the canine's death, all of whom lauded the dog and his most recent handler for their police work. Talkington purchased Keno from the sheriff’s department, and the two began patrolling together in late summer 2013. Prior to that, Keno worked with three different deputies in the DCSD. Outside of his police duties, Keno was routinely met with adoration throughout the community, Talkington said. And the feeling was mutual.“Keno loved everybody,” Talkington said. “He was well known all over the county and it’s always a joy to have people come up and tell their stories about him.” The German shepherd had quite an appetite and could also be playfully mischievous. “He was an eater,” Talkington said with a laugh. The marshal recalled a humorous story where Keno playfully unstacked wood the marshal had just finished chopping. “He’d go over and lay by the [wood] pile,” Talkington said. “Then he’d carry it off every time I got it stacked. “It was a lot of work. He wanted to play.” In spite of that inopportune bit of playfulness, Talkington said Keno was highly disciplined – at home and on duty. The marshal believes the dog’s impact and the community’s support in the aftermath of his death, speak to the importance of the program and the need for it to continue. Talkington said he is grateful for the community’s help, the sheriff department’s assistance, and the support of other officers and K-9 handlers. “It’s a family of K-9 handlers and supporters that makes it all worthwhile,” the town marshal said. Donations to the Westport K-9 program can be made at the community’s town hall or mailed to 207 E. Johnson Avenue, Westport, IN 47283.
November 24, 2015
Three arrested in Westport meth bust
By James Howell Jr. Greensburg Daily News
GREENSBURG – Three Decatur County residents were arrested last Thursday evening in Westport as part of a major drug bust at 1798 W. Millstone Rd. and 1840 W. Millstone Rd. Following a search of the properties, which yielded the discovery of 11 firearms, more than $4,100 in cash and numerous illegal substances; Robert Ward Jr., Angela Giddings and Gloria Dunagan, of Westport, were all arrested and transported to the Decatur County Jail. Ward Jr., 63, was taken into custody with five felony charges including possession/use of legend drug, dangerous use of a firearm, maintaining a common nuisance and possession/dealing of methamphetamine. Giddings, 45, has been charged with three separate counts including possession of methamphetamine, visiting a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia. Dunagan, 51, was charged with maintaining a common nuisance. The search warrants for the properties were granted at 4 p.m. on Thursday and officers arrived at the properties at 6:11 p.m. Upon arrival, Officer Joe Talkington explained in the Officer Report that they were met by Giddings in the driveway. Giddings appeared visually distraught. She explained that she had recently been in a confrontation with her son. The report continues by stating that numerous attempts to calm Giddings down were unsuccessful. She was then seated inside of the patrol car during the execution of the search warrant. During a cursory inspection of the area, a glass smoking pipe was found in the area where Giddings had been. She acknowledged that she brought the pipe out from inside the house and tossed it when she saw officers arriving. Shortly after the search began, Ward and Dunagan arrived in a vehicle owned by Ward. Inside the vehicle were two loaded handguns. Ward was read the search warrant before the search ensued. Ward provided a key for entry into the house and along with Dunagan were escorted to quietly remain on the couch during the search. Numerous guns were seized including EAA Corp Saiga-20, Russian American Armory Co. 12 gauge and a Remington Speedmaster Model 552 .22 caliber. Ward and Dunagan combined to have more than $4,000 cash on them. 22.4 grams of rock-like substance with the appearance of an illegal substance were found in the search along with many other drugs in pill form, making this one of the largest drug busts the area has seen. In lieu of the arrests, Ward’s bond was set at $200,000. Dunagan’s bond was placed at $750 cash and Giddings did not have a bond
June 10, 2015
Westport woman jailed for sex with 15-year-old
By Brent Brown - Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – A Westport woman accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy and sending sexually explicit photos to him was arrested after admitting to the crimes, police say. Westport Town Marshals arrested Ashley Ann Turner, 25, of the 300 block of East Main in Westport, Saturday. She was charged with sexual misconduct with a minor (Level 4 felony) and child solicitation (Level 5 felony) Monday in Decatur Circuit Court, according to court documents. The investigation began Friday evening when law enforcement officials interviewed the victim at the Westport Police Department. According to a probable cause affidavit, during that interview the 15-year-old told police that he and Turner had sexual intercourse on one occasion either in late June or early July. The incident occurred after “increasing sexual advances” were made by Turner, both in person and via cell phone text messages, the report contends. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington, Deputy Marshal Ryan Arbuckle, and an agent with the Department of Child Services met with Turner Saturday afternoon for a voluntary interview during which the suspect is alleged to have confessed to having sex with the 15-year-old and sending sexually explicit photos. Cell phones belonging to the victim and the suspect were given to Westport investigators voluntarily for possible retrieval of evidence. The results of the examination of the cell phones were not available by press time Monday. Turner appeared in court Monday where a plea of not guilty was entered on her behalf. Attorney Mark Jones was appointed as Turner’s defense counsel and a jury trial was scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 14. The suspect remained incarcerated in the Decatur County Jail on a $2,000 cash bond Monday.
June 10, 2015
Tip Leads Police To Suspected Drug Dealer
By Boris Ladwig- Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT — Thanks to a tip from the community, Westport police arrested a suspected marijuana dealer after setting up a phony drug buy. Joseph Lee, 32, of Westport, was arrested at his home Tuesday on a charge of dealing in marijuana to a minor, a Level 5 felony. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington said that the family member of the minor alerted police in April to a possible drug sale. Police set up a sale, converged on the location and asked the suspect, Lee, to step out of a vehicle. According to court documents, the vehicle’s owner consented to a search, and police found a plastic bag with a leafy substance that they suspected was marijuana. Lee told police that he smoked marijuana but did not deal, court records show. After obtaining permission to search a home, police also recovered drug paraphernalia, including scales, small scissors and cigarette butts, all of which tested positive for marijuana, according to a police report. Authorities issued a warrant for Lee’s arrest on June 5, and Westport Police Department arrested the suspect without incident Tuesday afternoon at his residence on Williamson Street. Talkington said that Lee also has a pending battery charge in Decatur County. Public records also show that Lee has convictions in Marion County for auto theft, criminal trespass, possession of paraphernalia, resisting law enforcement, operating a vehicle without ever obtaining a license and criminal recklessness. Lee was being held at Decatur County Jail Wednesday afternoon on $1,005 cash bond.Talkington thanked the concerned citizens who provided information that aided police in arresting a suspected drug dealer.
May 27, 2015
Westport Marshals Grab Child Molestation Suspect
Courtesy of WTRE
WESTPORT - A Logansport woman facing multiple counts of child molestation was arrested in Westport Saturday night, law enforcement authorities said. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington said Shelly Jo Rush, 32, was taken into custody just before 8 p.m. Saturday after she was spotted walking near a social gathering at a Paul Street residence in Westport. She had missed a court appearance pertaining to six counts of child molestation in April, according to court records, which prompted the issuance of a warrant for her arrest. Talkington told WTRE News that local authorities were notified by Decatur County Dispatch that Rush was believed to be in the Westport area, so the town marshal set up surveillance in three different locations in an hours-long search for the suspect Saturday. Talkington said he received a photo of Rush and was able to identify her by a distinctive tattoo on her leg. He said Rush initially denied her identity but was compliant with officer demands when she was informed she could face further charges for providing false information. Rush was in Westport after making friends in Decatur County via a social networking website, Talkington said. The suspect was charged with six counts of child molesting in Wells County Circuit Court in March 2013, according to court records. Talkington said Deputy Marshal Ryan Arbuckle assisted with the investigation and apprehension. The town marshal told WTRE he was satisfied with the results of his department's efforts Saturday and encouraged all residents to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities. Rush was transported to Bluffton to be housed in the Wells County Jail following her apprehension this weekend. She remained jailed in Wells County on a charge of failure to appear as of Wednesday afternoon. No bond was set for her release.
May 13, 2015
Community Foundation grant boosts Westport Marshals
By Brent Brown- Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Law enforcement officers in Westport on Monday were awarded a sizable grant to purchase much-needed police equipment thanks to the efforts of a reserve deputy marshal and the Decatur County Community Foundation (DCCF). A grant totaling nearly $13,000 was distributed to the Westport Town Marshals Office by DCCF Executive Director Tami Wenning during a town hall meeting Monday evening as the small police force was lauded for its recent efforts and congratulated on receiving the financial assistance. Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington said the funds will be used to replace the department’s police radios, purchase additional bulletproof vests, and to fix the aged light bar on the agency’s second police cruiser. “I want to thank the Community Foundation for giving us a chance and rewarding us with the grant,” Talkington said at the meeting Monday at the Westport Town Hall. The grant dispersal was the primary focus of the meeting, which gave town board members the opportunity to thank the Marshal’s Office for its commendable police work while highlighting the efforts of a young officer who nearly single-handedly made the grant acquisition possible. Town Board President Brian Gatewood thanked the department for its efforts in increasing public safety in the small Decatur County Community and told those in attendance that Westport Marshals’ duties extend beyond the confines of the Sand Creek Township in which they are based. Members of the Westport law enforcement agency patrol not only that small town, but they also routinely assist the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies. “I think what we’ve got going on is something pretty good,” Gatewood remarked. He said the department’s members handle themselves in a professional manner and thanked the officers present for continually taking steps to improve the agency. “We’re so impressed with the turnaround,” Gatewood said. Addressing the three reserve officers in attendance, Gatewood spoke highly of their efforts. “These guys are reserve officers,” Gatewood remarked. “They’re not paid, but they believe in what they do.” Talkington, Deputy Marshal Ryan Arbuckle and reserve Deputy Marshal John Organist presented a Certificate of Commendation to Ryan Meyer, a reserve deputy marshal who spent more than the equivalent of a week’s worth of work to seek out the grant money necessary to help the department fulfill some of its most pressing needs. The commendation was for “outstanding performance and professionalism” by Meyer in securing the grants that will “enable the Westport Police Department to improve upon its promise to protect and serve the people of Westport,” the official award notes. “Officer Meyer’s dedication to service reflects highly upon himself and the Westport Police Department and is in the highest keeping with the values of the Westport Police Department and the service of law enforcement as a whole,” the commendation states. Talkington said Meyer, an unpaid reserve, began the application process, researched the department’s needs, and gave a presentation to members of the DCCF detailing the proposed use for the grant money. Meyer’s efforts were successful, and due to that work Talkington believes Westport law enforcement officers will be able to perform their duties far more effectively. Meyer was grateful but modest upon receiving the recognition. “It makes me feel good,” Meyer, a former Vincennes University reserve police cadet, said Monday. “I told Chief Talkington I would do whatever I could to make the department better.” Meyer, who earned his associate’s degree in law enforcement and a bachelor’s degree in homeland security from Vincennes, said his community and his work are very important to him. “I love being a police officer,” Meyer said with a smile. “And I love giving back to my community.”
April 27, 2015
Sheriff: Man jailed after firing gun at glass company
By Brent Brown- Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – A disgruntled former employee of a Westport glass company faces a felony charge after allegedly shooting holes in the building while it was occupied by workers, according to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department (DCSD). Information provided to the Daily News by Sheriff Greg Allen states county authorities arrested Shawn J. Fuller, 30, of Hartsville, Wednesday evening following an investigation into bullet holes discovered near the entrance of NIPRO Glass Company in Westport. According to the DCSD, the investigation began early Tuesday when Deputy Derek Fasnacht responded to a report of gunshot damage at the glass company, which is located at 1108 IN-3 in Westport. Investigators said they discovered “several bullet holes near the front end of the building,” in addition to damage attributed to gunfire in a cement block wall, a large pillar and a pair of windows. Investigators say they found evidence of the crime in the parking lot of the glass company and inside the building, and they examined surveillance video that allegedly shows a person fire a weapon from the driver’s side of a vehicle as the person drives slowly in the vicinity of front of the building. The video purportedly shows the vehicle fleeing the scene after the driver shoots at the building. The investigation also involved the work of DCSD Det. Jeff Porter and Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington who obtained a search warrant for Fuller’s residence in Hartsville. Members of the DCSD, Westport Town Marshals, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus Police Department SWAT executed the search warrant leading to Fuller’s arrest Wednesday night on a charge of criminal recklessness involving a firearm, a Level 5 felony. Marshal Talkington said he spoke with employees of the glass factory who indicated Fuller was upset over having his employment with the company recently terminated, and this was a possible motive for the suspect’s alleged actions. According to court documents, Fuller was arrested in March 2014 on felony charges of criminal recklessness and pointing a firearm, and misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and carrying a handgun without a license. Fuller remained jailed on a $300,000 commercial bond at Daily News press time Friday. His jury trial was set for 8:30 a.m. July 30 in Decatur Superior Court, according to court documents. Attorney Tamara Butler was appointed as defense counsel.
April 16, 2015
Man posts bail then jailed again
GREENSBURG – A Westport man facing a pair of felony drug-related charges found himself behind bars for the second time in less than a week following an alleged domestic violence incident in his home early Tuesday. Jeffrey A. Hall, 32, of the 100 block of South Range Street in Westport, was arrested by Indiana State Police early Tuesday after a Trooper and a Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to an emergency call reporting a domestic incident at Hall’s home. A probable cause affidavit filed Tuesday states a female living at the residence told police Hall pushed her to the floor and kicked her in the back of the head. The victim also said Hall flipped over a kitchen table, shattering it into pieces, which may have caused blood and marks police said they observed on her neck. Hall allegedly denied striking the woman and accused her of previously injuring him, but was placed under arrest and transported to the Decatur County Jail. He faces a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. Hall was previously arrested following a traffic stop conducted by Deputy Tony Blodgett in the 6600 block of South CR 700 West Thursday afternoon due to erratic driving, according to court documents. In that incident, Blodgett was notified by Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington that Hall was allegedly driving to Greensburg in order to purchase methamphetamine. The sheriff’s deputy observed Hall’s vehicle on SR 46 and began to follow the suspect who, according to a police report, was driving left of center. Those actions prompted Blodgett to stop the vehicle. Talkington and K9 Officer Keno arrived a short time later to assist. Keno indicated to authorities that drugs were contained in the vehicle, and after receiving permission to search Hall’s Jeep Cherokee, allegedly discovered multiple syringes, items consistent with the packaging or distribution of drugs, and a small quantity of methamphetamine. Hall was jailed on charges of possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a hypodermic needle, both of which are Level 6 felonies. Hall was released from Decatur County Jail after posting bond Monday. After his arrest Tuesday, he was jailed on a $20,000 bond, according to court documents. A jury trial in both cases was set for 8:30 a.m. July 16 in Decatur Superior Court.
March 18, 2015
Westport cracking down on heroin
By Amanda Browning - Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Community involvement and the reserve police force have been key factors in law enforcement targeting narcotic use in Westport, Town Marshal Joe Talkington said. Talkington said the community is becoming increasingly involved in reporting crimes, particularly those related to drugs. He said certain “problem areas” have been identified by working with the Decatur County prosecutor and focus has been placed on raising community awareness in those areas. Talkington said a significant portion of the information about drug crimes he receives originated from concerned community members who have taken a stand against drugs in their neighborhoods. He also said the department’s four reserve officers are increasing the police presence in Westport, with more than 100 hours of extra patrols a month. Talkington mentioned the partnership with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department as well, stating that Westport receives 100 percent cooperation and that Sheriff Greg Allen often sends deputies over to help when one of Talkington’s officers is undergoing training. Talkington said heroin is a “rising problem” in Westport. He said he believes the problem began increasing after the November arrest of a Westport man who was charged with possession of methamphetamine. Talkington added that heroin problems have been rising in surrounding counties as well. The increase in the presence of heroin in the area is something Talkington attributes to the ready-to-use nature of the drug when it is brought into the community. He said Westport used to have a big marijuana problem, then it was methamphetamine, but he said the risks associated with the production of meth make it easier to detect, whereas heroin arrives prepared. A recent heroin overdose in Westport highlighted another problem with the drug, Talkington said. According to the Town Marshal, most of the heroin here is coming in from out of state and is then mixed with pain pills and other drugs. By mixing it with other things, the resulting high is altered and addicts have to increase how much they use to get the same effect. When they go from the mixed heroin to the pure heroin and use the same amount, there is a high chance of an overdose. “They never know what they are getting, but they are so addicted they can’t get away from it,” Talkington said. Data coming in from prison interviews shows that many heroin addicts said going to jail is the only way they were able to detox. Talkington said many prisoners have reported that if they had not been arrested, they would likely be dead. “It’s highly addictive,” Talkington said. “You have no fears. You’re Superman or Superwoman until you come out of it and you turn to theft and such to get more. It’s a vicious cycle.” According to Marshal Talkington, Decatur County EMS carries supplies of Narcan, a medication that serves as an antidote to opioids such as heroin, and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine and oxycodone. Talkington said because the fire department’s response time is under two minutes on average and EMS services respond with them, that he will not seek supplies of Narcan for law enforcement officers. “Westport Fire is tremendous with their response time,” Talkington said. “We let the professionals administer it and we find out where it’s coming from.” Talkington said the source of the drugs is “absolutely” under investigation. He said the department does have some leads and is working closely with the prosecutor’s office and the community to locate the source and determine the best way to approach it. Drug traffickers studying the search and seizure code has been problematic, Talkington said. Many of the incarcerated criminals from which he has gathered data said they were instructed on what to do with the drugs if they had been stopped by police. While those breaking the law are able to cut corners, police must stick to procedure, Talkington said. “Ours has to be in writing; theirs doesn’t,” Talkington said. Continuing to increase community awareness and involvement will be a focus for the department, the Westport Marshal said. Residents concerned about suspicious activity can report it to the Westport Police Department at 812-591-2651, leaving a message for the officers, particularly if the matter is confidential. Though with such a small staff, Talkington said it may often be easier to contact an officer through Decatur County dispatch at 812-663-8125.
November 17, 2014
Police: Man threatened woman with sledge hammer
By Boris Ladwig The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT — A Westport man has been arrested on suspicion that he threatened a woman and damaged her vehicle with a sledge hammer. Jack R. Giddings, 42, 3490 W. County Road 1280, was arrested Sunday on charges of intimidation, a Level 6 felony; and criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor. Giddings threatened a woman with a sledge hammer and then used the tool to cause about $1,400 worth of damage to her pickup truck on Oct. 30, according to the police report, filed by Ryan Meyer, a reserve officer with Westport Police Department. According to the report, Giddings got upset when the victim would not leave his father-in-law’s home. Giddings told police that the victim had no business being at the home. The father-in-law and the victim told police that the victim was at the house to discuss her helping him take care of his wife, who is ill. The victim said she and Giddings got into verbal altercation, in which he threatened to beat her with the sledge hammer and then “struck her vehicle several times,” knocking off the driver’s side mirror. The father-in-law interfered, enabling the victim to leave, the report read. According to the report, Giddings admitted to police that he got upset with the victim and damaged her vehicle. Decatur County Prosecutor Jim Rosenberry filed charges on Nov. 7, and Giddings was arrested by Decatur County Sheriff’s Department Sunday. He was being held on $750 cash bond Monday afternoon.
November 17, 2014
Police: Midnight raid in Westport nets drugs, stolen guns
By Boris Ladwig The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT — A multi-agency midnight raid of a Westport home lead police to arrest a suspected gun thief who tried to escape from a basement window. Daniel M. Smith, 25, 248 W. Washington, was charged with possession of methamphetamine while in possession of a firearm, a Level 4 felony; and theft, a Level 6 felony. Sgt. Danny Hamilton, of Batesville Police Department, had stopped Smith in Batesville for a traffic violation Saturday morning. Hamilton got suspicious because of ammunition and weapons in the car, and his police dog, Jinx, indicated the presence of drugs, according to a police report. No arrest was made at the time. Later that day, Batesville Police Department received reports of break-ins into vehicles and garages that resembled incidents from the Versailles area from a week earlier. Batesville PD also received reports from Ripley County about a theft in the Millhousen area that morning in which ammunition and firearms had been stolen. Hamilton notified Westport Police Chief Joe Talkington and obtained a search warrant for Smith's Westport home. At about midnight, law enforcement officials from seven agencies covered the front, back and basement doors of Smith’s Washington Street home. About nine minutes later, Hamilton took Smith into custody in the home's basement, although Smith wiggled out of his jacket as he “tried to escape out of the basement window,” the report read. Westport Chief Joe Talkington wrote in his police report that authorities recovered six grams of a substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Talkington wrote that police also found drug paraphernalia such as syringes, scales and burnt foil; and the shotgun and rifle suspected to have been stolen from the Millhousen area. Smith was being held at Decatur County Jail Monday without bond. According to a press release, Ripley County authorities are investing potential additional charges.
July 9, 2014
Wanted convicts caught fleeing in field
By Brent Brown The Greensburg Daily News
Wed Jul 09, 2014, 02:50 AM EDT GREENSBURG – Quick thinking by an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy resulted in the arrest of two local men long-wanted on felony charges Tuesday afternoon.Decatur County Sheriff Greg Allen told the Daily News Deputy Rob Goodfellow was off-duty, traveling in his patrol car on CR SW 60 shortly after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when he noticed two men walking on the side of the road, near CR 800 South.Dep. Goodfellow recognized one of the men as wanted and turned his patrol car around to confront them. Both men then fled into a nearby field with Goodfellow pursuing on foot.Goodfellow notified other deputies as well as Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington of the situation, and they responded for assistance in locating the suspects.Sheriff Allen said James R. Howard, 61, wanted by authorities for failure to appear in court following a conviction for operating a motor vehicle after a lifetime suspension in 2006, gave himself up early in the pursuit. The second man, Roy M. White, 53, attempted to hide in the field, but turned himself over to police when Marshal Talkington unleashed his K-9, Keno, at the scene in order to search for the fleeing suspect.White was wanted for violating his probation following a guilty plea on a charge of counterfeiting in November 2011. At that time, White was sentenced to one year in prison with all but 60 days of the sentence suspended. White was subsequently placed on supervised probation and ordered to pay restitution, according to court documents. A petition to revoke White’s probation was issued in February 2013.That wasn’t the first brush with the law for White.White was convicted of criminal recklessness in Decatur County in 1993 and theft and receiving stolen property in Jennings County the same year, according to the Indiana Department of Correction.Howard also has a lengthy criminal history beginning with a burglary conviction in March 1983. Howard has a pair of convictions for operating a vehicle after a lifetime suspension, the first of which was handed down in Decatur County in 1995. He was sentenced as a habitual violator of traffic laws in 1988, according to the Indiana Department of Correction. No one was injured in Tuesday’s pursuit and both suspects were booked into the Decatur County Jail that afternoon.The Sheriff said both men were charged with preliminary counts of resisting law enforcement Tuesday. No bond information was available for either suspect.Deputies Eric Kramer, Kevin Rohr and David Henderson joined Goodfellow, Lt. Eric Blodgett and Marshal Talkington in the brief pursuit, Allen said. The Sheriff later met up with officers at the scene as well.Sheriff Allen complimented the police work involved in Tuesday’s case, saving his highest remarks for Goodfellow.“I want to commend Deputy Goodfellow for being observant even though he was off duty,” Allen said.Conservation Officer Andy Hagerty also assisted at the scene.Though wanted by law enforcement officials for some time, Sheriff Allen said both men arrested Tuesday were believed by authorities to have moved out of state.Allen said police had caught wind of the suspects’ return to Decatur County, but it was Tuesday’s chance encounter that finally led to their arrests.
July 3, 2014
Men face burglary, theft charges
By Brent Brown The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Two Westport men suspected of stealing a utility terrain vehicle, cash and other items from a rural home late last month have been arrested and now face felony burglary and theft charges.A recent investigation by the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department and Westport Town Marshals led to the arrest of Devin Q. Winchester, 20, and Corey T. Bruner, 18, within the last week. Both men have been charged with burglary, a class B felony, and theft, a class D felony. Winchester faces an additional felony charge of possession of stolen property.Investigators believe Winchester, with the assistance of Bruner and a juvenile accomplice, entered a residence in the 1600 block of West SR 46 in Greensburg during the night of June 22, and stole a Honda Razor Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). They then rode the vehicle throughout the town of Westport the following day, accompanied by two other juveniles and another friend, police said.Bruner is alleged to also have stolen a shotgun from the same residence as well as cash, according to charging information filed June 25 in the Decatur Circuit Court. Bruner was arrested Tuesday following the service of a warrant that had been issued for his arrest last week.Police responded to a report of a burglary the morning of June 25 when a homeowner told police his home had been broken into and he believed several items had been stolen.A Razor UTV and $800 in cash from an RV parked in an outbuilding on his property were reported missing. The doors of the vehicles were not locked and the key had been left in the ignition of the UTV, the homeowner said.A juvenile suspect allegedly seen riding the UTV the morning following the burglary was later detained and questioned by police about the theft. The juvenile directed police to Winchester, who lives with his father in a rental property in the 3800 block of West CR 1100S in Westport. Winchester was not home when authorities arrived, but neighbors stated they had seen the suspect and other individuals operating a UTV that morning, according to authorities. Witnesses said Winchester had left with others in a black Dodge truck prior to the arrival of police.The home at which Winchester and his father live is owned by an Indiana State Police Trooper who consented to a search of the property’s barn and other areas when deputies contacted him regarding the incident. On the property, police discovered tire tracks consistent with those left by a UTV. The vehicle was located behind a barn and a dog kennel.Police met with Winchester when he returned to the home in his truck accompanied by Bruner, an adult female and a juvenile. Winchester denied stealing the UTV, but was arrested on suspicion of stolen property and burglary.Bruner was reportedly unconscious in the truck when police questioned the individuals who accompanied Winchester. He consented to a search after he was awakened by officers. Bruner and the adult female were later released at the scene. A juvenile in the truck was detained after officers discovered prescription anxiety medication in his possession. The boy was taken to the Westport Town Marshal’s office and later released into the care of his mother.After being confronted with multiple items of evidence linking him to the case, Winchester agreed to speak with police at the jail.During the conversation, Winchester is alleged to have admitted meeting Bruner and others June 22, and they decided to travel to the home to ride the UTV. Winchester said he did not enter any buildings on the property and was unaware Bruner and a juvenile were planning to do so. He also said he did not take any money from the residence.Before his arrest, Bruner was interviewed by police. During the course of the taped conversation, the suspect is alleged to have admitted the money found in his wallet during the search of the truck was stolen. He turned $243 over to police when the interview concluded, but stated he had used the remainder to pay bills and pay off debts to friends. Items found in Winchester’s truck, including a handgun magazine, were later discovered to match items reported stolen from off a tractor in northern Jennings County.A call to the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department seeking comment was not returned by press time Wednesday. Sheriff Greg Allen said both juveniles had been released back into the care of their parents, though one child was briefly detained at the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center. A female acquaintance to Bruner was not charged after prosecutors reviewed evidence in the case.Both suspects remained incarcerated in the Decatur County Jail Wednesday on $2,000 cash bonds. Both indicated they intend to hire attorneys at separate court appearances.Winchester’s trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 28 in the Decatur Circuit Court. Bruner’s is set to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 3 in the same location.
June 28, 2014
Two jailed following meth bust
By Brent Brown The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – Acting on a tip, Town Marshals and Deputy Sheriffs arrested a pair of rural Decatur County residents earlier this week after a search of their rental home revealed methamphetamine and items related to its manufacture.Information from the Decatur Circuit Court states Joshua L. Harris, 37, and Sharon D. Huber, 52, were arrested late Wednesday. Each faces felony charges of dealing (manufacture) in methamphetamine and possession of chemical reagents or precursors with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.Huber has also been charged with maintaining a common nuisance, a class D felony, while Harris faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia.A tip to Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington launched the investigation Wednesday, which concluded when police obtained a search warrant and arrived at a residence located in the 10000 block of West CR 850 South in Westport.Huber answered the door when police arrived shortly after 9 p.m. and was detained on the front porch after officers announced their presence. The home was secured, but Harris, whom police initially believed to be living at the residence, was not immediately located.Harris was discovered a short time later hiding underneath bales of hay in a nearby barn, according to a police report. He was arrested without incident.During the search, officers discovered “various drug paraphernalia and material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine” inside the residence, court documents state. Evidence was collected and members of the Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Team arrived to contain the hazardous materials. K-9 Officer Rango, who is handled by Deputy Sheriff Rob Goodfellow, alerted authorities to the presence of illicit materials throughout the home.Officers also discovered a modified propane tank that contained anhydrous ammonia, a chemical commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.A previous arrest warrant for failure to appear in court on a charge of failure to pay child support was issued in May. Officers attempted to serve the warrant to Harris at the same home, but Huber told police Harris had moved away.Both suspects were awaiting court appearances by Daily News press time Friday afternoon. It was not known if either had obtained legal counsel. No bond had been set for either suspect.
June 27, 2014
GREENSBURG — A Shelbyville woman arrested last year and charged with two counts of child molestation for engaging a 13-year-old Decatur County boy in a sexual relationship has been given two 4-year sentences with the Indiana Department of Corrections. Those sentences, handed down Tuesday by Decatur County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Day, require Hannah Jo Stuart, 23, to serve concurrent, 18-month prison terms on two C Felony molestation charges. Stuart will serve the remainder of the sentences on supervised probation and be required to register as a sex offender. Following her arrest in May 2013, Stuart was initially charged with two B Felonies, but, through a plea agreement with Decatur County Deputy Prosecutor Doug Brown, was allowed to plea to the lesser C counts. Day also granted Stuart credit for 25 actual days served in jail, from May 2 to May 26, 2013. Stuart committed the acts for which she was arrested, charged and convicted in the spring of 2012, on two separate occasions, according to charging information. In an interview with law enforcement and representatives from the Indiana Department of Child Services before her arrest, Stuart allegedly admitted to having intercourse with the boy in a Forest Hill residence. An arrest warrant in the case was issued sometime later. Following her formal guilty plea and sentencing Tuesday, Stuart was remanded to the Decatur County Jail. On Thursday, she’ll be transferred to the Rockville Correctional Facility to begin serving her prison term.
June 13, 2014
Man jailed for alleged dealing of morphine
By Brent Brown The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT – A Decatur County man believed to be selling pain killing medication at his place of employment was arrested and jailed Wednesday on a charge of dealing in a narcotic drug.Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington, with assistance from the Greensburg Police Department, arrested Carl J. Griffith, 26, of the 8600 block of East CR 1300 North in Greensburg Tuesday following an investigation that began in late April.At that time, Griffith is alleged to have exchanged two 60 mg morphine pills for $50 cash from a confidential police informant. The drug deal took place early in the evening of April 29 at 106 South West Street in Westport, according to a GPD offense report filed that day in the Decatur Circuit Court. Morphine is a highly addictive pain killing medication that, if abused, can lead to a host of hazardous side effects, some of which can be fatal.Following the transaction, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Griffith which was served to the suspect this week. Following his court appearance, a cash bond of $25,000 was set for Griffith’s release. He remained incarcerated in the Decatur County Jail by Daily News press time Thursday. Attorney Mark Jones was appointed as Griffith’s defense counsel Wednesday. A trial date was set for Oct. 21.The charge of dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug is a Class A felony, which can carry a prison sentence of between 20 and 50 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000 under state law.
May 28, 2014
Westport man LifeLined after vehicle crushes his leg
By Boris Ladwig The Greensburg Daily News
WESTPORT — A Westport man was taken by medical helicopter to an Indianapolis hospital after his leg was crushed by a car driven by his stepdaughter.Mark, Hainig, 51, suffered a compound leg fracture, according to Westport Town Marshall Joe Talkington. Hainig’s status was not available Tuesday evening.Talkington said Hainig returned Tuesday to his home on Poplar Street to see his stepson and stepdaughter, when a verbal altercation ensued.The stepdaughter, Myndi Ruiz, 29, decided to leave with the stepson early afternoon to avoid further conflict, Talkington said. When she tried to drive away, with the stepson in the passenger seat, Hainig tried to enter the vehicle, and the right front tire ran over his leg.“She was trying to get away from the situation,” Talkington said. “It was a total accident.”Talkington said that while the incident with the vehicle has been ruled an accident, the investigation surrounding the accident, including the altercation, is ongoing.Westport Volunteer Fire Department, Decatur County EMS and Decatur County Sheriff’s Department responded.
February 14, 2014
Dogs on patrol
By Brent Brown The Greensburg Daily News
GREENSBURG – Fulfilling the duties required of a police officer is one thing; being a responsible pet owner is quite another.Combine the two and you might have a better idea of what a night on patrol is like for a K-9 officer.Decatur County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Goodfellow and Westport Town Marshal Joe Talkington have recently joined Greensburg Police Officer Jordan Craig as K-9 officers in the Decatur County community. All three officers now have four-legged partners capable of following criminal trails and sniffing out illicit substances.For Rob Goodfellow, the duty is a dream come true.“I’ve always wanted to be a K-9 officer,” the 20-year Army veteran and former Westport Deputy Marshal told the Daily News Thursday.Goodfellow is now accompanied on patrol by Rango, a black Labrador Retriever trained in narcotics detection, tracking and article searches.Rango rides in the back of Deputy Goodfellow’s patrol car and is capable of detecting marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. The police dog was purchased through donations from the Decatur County community and was acquired after a lengthy search that encompassed 12 kennels in four different states.Rango is Goodfellow’s first K-9 partner, and has already assisted in one arrest.Rango’s immediate impact is just what Joe Talkington expected.Talkington patrols the Westport area with Keno, a veteran German Shepherd officer who was recently equipped with a bulletproof/stab-proof vest.Keno has also earned his proverbial stripes in the line of duty, recently helping sniff out an alleged methamphetamine operation.Goodfellow and Talkington agreed that the mere presence of a police dog adds to officer safety and serves as a reminder that local police are pushing back against those who push drugs in the Decatur County community.And they’re definitely not alone.Greensburg Officer Jordan Craig, who has raised his pet/police partner Krieger, makes up a trio of officers among three different departments dedicated to using the unique talents K-9 officers bring to the practice of law enforcement. Additionally, Talkington said the Indiana State Police support multiple K-9 units, and that group has assisted in officer training with the three local officers patrolling the streets with a furry friend.That job, however, is anything but easy in spite of the extra help given by the duly deputized dogs.“It’s a lot of work,” Goodfellow said with a smile. Talkington added the job is 24/7 and entails all aspects of proper pet ownership.K-9 officers are responsible for maintaining the health and well-being of their partners on and off duty. The logistics of involving an animal in delicate police work also requires following stringent regulations and attending hours upon hours of training for proper certification.But for officers like Rob Goodfellow and Joe Talkington, the effort is more than worthwhile.“It’s a little like having another kid,” Goodfellow joked, adding that at times he feels he spends more time with Rango than he does with his family. Rango in a sense IS family, though, as the police dog is one of four pooches in the Goodfellow household.Likewise, Talkington grew up appreciating the intelligence and bravery of dogs under the tutelage of his father, Robert Talkington, who was one of the pioneers of the Columbus Police Department’s K-9 unit.Both men are also well aware of the community-wide effort it has taken to support the three programs.Talkington purchased Keno, who previously served the DCSD under Lt. Eric Blodgett, with his own funds.Goodfellow acquired Rango through numerous grants and donations.Specifically, Goodfellow wished to publicly thank Dogs All Day, J & L Minutemaids, Inc., Redelman Shepherds, Immaculate Conception Church, Stone’s Farm Service, Don Meyer Ford, Decatur County REMC, Greensburg Meat Locker, Wickens Insurance, GECOM, Westport Dairy Queen and Pavey’s Grocery.Further assistance came from the Animal Medical Clinic, Grand Casino and Track, Davis Towing and Recovery and Seymour D.R. Clinic. Keno, Rango and Krieger’s meals are obtained through Tractor Supply Company. Numerous private donations also helped bring Rango onto the county’s police squad.Donations, Goodfellow and Talkington said, are constantly needed to keep the respective K-9 programs up and running. Those wishing to donate to any of the programs may do so by visiting or contacting the Greensburg Police Department, Decatur County Sheriff’s Department or Westport Town Hall, they added.In spite of the ever-present need for community support, Rango and Keno give back in more ways than simply through their police work.Goodfellow and Talkington took part in a demonstration for elementary students in Bartholomew County Thursday, and both officers look forward to future opportunities to conduct similar events at local schools or for clubs and organizations.Parties interested in doing so should contact respective law enforcement offices, they said.In the meantime, the dogs are on patrol in Decatur County, ready to sniff out crime and help make “collars” whenever necessary.“They’ve done a really good job so far,” Marshal Talkington said of Keno and Rango. “It’s [the K-9 program] definitely improved public safety.”