Two death investigations, two murder charges at Miami Correctional

Two separate death investigations, by Indiana State Police detectives, resulted in two inmates from the Miami Correctional Facility being charged with murder.


On May 19, 2019, Indiana State Police Detective Michelle Jumper initiated an investigation, at the request of the Miami Correctional Facility, into the death of prison inmate Richard Carrell, 56.


Carrell was found deceased in his C Unit cell by a correctional officer. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Carrell’s cause of the death was asphyxia by strangulation. The manner of death was homicide. During the course of the investigation, probable cause was developed for a Miami Superior Court I arrest warrant to be issued for prison inmate Michael Parrish, 42. The warrant alleged a single charge of murder.


Parrish was Carrell’s cellmate.


On June 10, 2019, Indiana State Police Detectives initiated an investigation, at the request of the Miami Correctional Facility, into the death of prison inmate Lannie Morgan, 70. Morgan was found by correctional staff not breathing in his cell. Despite life saving measures, Morgan died at Dukes Memorial Hospital in Peru.


A subsequent autopsy revealed that Morgan’s cause of the death was asphyxia due to smothering/occlusion of the nasal/oral cavities. The manner of death was homicide. During the course of the investigation, probable cause was developed for a Miami Superior Court I arrest warrant to be issued for prison inmate Phillip Sadler, 53. The warrant alleged a single charge for murder. Sadler also resided in the I Unit cell house, but he was not Morgan’s roommate.


Detectives were assisted in both investigations by staff members from the Miami Correctional Facility.

Student tools stolen from building site

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department is using Facebook to ask the public’s help in a case.


Students arrived at an area building trades job site this week to find their job trailer broken into.  The trailer was damaged and most of the tools stolen.  Several thousands of dollars in equipment was taken including cordless drills, air nailers, compressors, air hoses, saws, and ladders.


Most of these items were engraved “CBT” or “Culver Building Trades” so they would be easy to identify. 


Anyone with any information is asked to feel free to message or contact Kyle Elliott at Culver High School, or you can contact the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.

Farmers in all 92 Indiana Counties eligible to receive assistance

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced that Indiana farmers are eligible for assistance under a secretarial natural disaster designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


This was in response to a letter Gov. Holcomb sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in July, requesting assistance due to the excessive rain and flooding farmers experienced during planting season.


“I am grateful that Secretary Perdue and his team recognized the hardships Hoosier farmers experienced this planting season,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As a result of this designation, farmers in all 92 counties are now eligible for assistance, and I encourage those impacted to work with their local Farm Service Agency office.”


Seventy-four counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas. USDA deferred its decision on the remaining 18 counties. However, since they border one or more of the primary disaster areas, they are considered contiguous disaster counties – allowing farm operators in those areas to be eligible for the same assistance.


Under a secretarial natural disaster designation, farm operators in primary and contiguous counties are eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided certain requirements are met. This includes access to low-interest FSA emergency loans, which may be used to: restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation, and refinance certain debts.


In order to qualify, farm operators must show at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or chattel property. Farmers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses to a maximum amount of $500,000, according to USDA.


“This has been an unprecedented year for Indiana farmers,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “I applaud Governor Holcomb, the Indiana Farm Service Agency and our state department of agriculture for making this assistance available.”


In addition to emergency loans, farmers with existing FSA loans, who are unable to make their payments, may be eligible to have certain payments deferred. Farmers are encouraged to work with their local FSA office for assistance regarding payment forbearance or emergency disaster loans.


“Farmers, who have been doing this their entire lives, acknowledge this has been one of the toughest seasons on record, and we’re not in the clear yet,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director. “While we know this isn’t a cure-all solution, this assistance is welcome news and will help those severely impacted.”


For a list of Farm Service Agency offices in Indiana, click here or visit www.fsa.usda.gov, or click here for more information about FSA’s Emergency Farm Loans. Deadline to apply for emergency loans is April 29, 2020.



Stolen cars, pursuits, arrests

Two pursuits, two arrests Tuesday.


Just after 1:30 am, a speeding vehicle was southbound on US 31 and failed to yield for an officer attempting to make a traffic stop. The driver fled from authorities before running over stop sticks at the Indiana State Highway Garage, near CR 50N and Meridian Road.  The vehicle was stolen from Kalamazoo, Michigan.


Four people ran from the scene into a cornfield.  A juvenile male was caught and released to his parents.


In another incident a short time later a suspect vehicle nearly collided with two police vehicles while trying to flee an attempted traffic stop.  The pursuit proceeded southbound on U.S. 31 from Fulton into Miami County at speeds over 100 mph.  The suspect vehicle drove thru deployed stop sticks into Cass County.  The suspect finally lost control and was stopped following more stop sticks helping to end the pursuit.


Ebony Williams, 19, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was taken to Woodlawn Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  He was initially charged with auto theft, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, reckless driving, operating a vehicle while never licensed, possession of marijuana and false identity statement.

Radioactive disaster simulated as exercise in Rochester Thursday

It’s the kind of exercise and practice that emergency responders hope they never have to bring to life in a real scenario.  A radioactive disaster is the focus of over a hundred personnel Thursday in Rochester.


Four northern Indiana EMA’s will base operations in Rochester for the event.

Rochester Fire Chief Tom Butler explains the city’s role within the geography of the staged exercise.



He notes several locations will be involved.




Rochester City Council in midst of budget process

The Rochester City Council held a public hearing on the 2020 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday.


Clerk - Treasurer Shoda Beehler summarizes the numbers.



Beehler explains where the budget process goes from here.













City of Rochester looks to improve golf course fiscal situation

Rochester's city-owned and operated golf course is coming under scrutiny as part of budget preparation by the mayor and city council.


Mayor Ted Denton says the Round Barn Golf Club at Mill Creek has never been a moneymaker and now they're looking for ways to cut back losses to the city.




Mayor Denton says the basic operating costs, notably chemicals, can be the most expensive part of the budget.



Increases in wages for golf course employees also impacted the budget.



Mayor Denton says efforts are also going to be made to find more golfers and more revenue.  The course has seen revenue dip in recent years.



Rochester defends home court with Monday volleyball win over Triton

Rochester held off visiting Triton in volleyball action Monday night for a 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 victory.


The Lady Zebras played from behind much of the night.  Rochester overcame Game 2 deficits of 14-8 and 22-19.  And in the third and final game Triton jumped out to an 8-1 lead and still led 16-9 before Rochester rallied to tie it at 17 apiece and then took the lead for good at 20-19.


Head coach Erin Leap says she wouldn’t mind a quicker start out of the blocks.



Junior Kaitlin Rogers led Rochester with 12 kills, three blocks and three serving aces.



Hannah Houston recorded nine kills.  Alivia Riegle posted seven kills.  Molly Conley led with 24 assists.


Rochester is 3-4 on the season and will host Culver Academies on Thursday. 


Triton falls to 1-2.

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

U.S. 2nd District Representative Jackie Walorski talks veteran entrpreneurs, China and tariffs and farming and RV industries in her visit to the 92.1 WROI GIANT fm newsroom.




Wabash Public Access Site among those closed for repairs

Multiple public access sites in Indiana will close for repairs while projects at other sites have been completed and are back open.

Access sites closed for repairs are:


  • Wabash Public Access Site in Wabash will be temporarily closed for ramp repairs starting Aug. 26. Repairs are expected to take approximately one week.
  • Laughery Creek Public Access Site near Dillsboro will be temporarily closed for reconstruction from Aug. 26 through Sept. 5. The closest alternate access site during this period will be the Tanners Creek Public Access Site near Lawrenceburg.
  • Spice Valley Public Access Site near Williams will be temporarily closed for paving operations until Sept. 5. Alternate access sites are available downstream at Williams Dam Public Fishing Area and upstream at the Bedford Public Access Site.  

Newly reopened sites include Ashby Pit on Sugar Ridge Fish & Wildlife Area And Loon Pit on Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area. These sites have newly updated boat launch sites and are open to the public. The older concrete launch ramps at these sites were removed and replaced with updated concrete slab ramps. 

Elkhart man identified in fatal work accident

A Warsaw Police press release states the accident involved a front-end loader. It appears the front-end loader was operating in reverse when another employee was struck.  The accident caused a catastrophic head injury and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene by the coroner.


The deceased has been identified as Cedric Barnett, 31, Elkhart.


Currently investigators believe this to be an accidental death as there is no evidence of foul play. The coroner has scheduled an autopsy as is standard in a workplace accident involving death. 


The investigation continues and at the time of this release, representatives of OSHA were on the way to the scene to conduct their investigation.


Thomas Patrick Lanham, 54, of Leesburg, was the operator of the front-end loader. Lanham also is an employee of Meade and is cooperating with the investigation.

Fleeing suspect crashes; three injured.

Three people were transported from a crash scene after a Nappanee man fled authorities Thursday afternoon.


Shortly before 3:00 pm, a Kosciusko County Sheriff's Deputy observed a 2011 Ford Fiesta, driven by Walter David Hawthorne, 44, of Nappanee, pass two vehicles at a high rate of speed, in a no passing zone. Hawthorne's vehicle was eastbound on Armstrong Road, in the area of CR 450 E at the time of the offense. The deputy activated his emergency lights and attempted to perform a traffic stop. Hawthorne continued eastbound on Armstrong Road (which becomes CR 500 N), and refused to stop for the marked patrol vehicle.


The stop light was red as Hawthorne approached State Road 13, in excess of 100 mph.  The Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department says Hawthorne continued through the intersection, striking a southbound 2013 Ram 2500, driven by Joshua Shepherd, 36, of North Webster.


Shepherd's vehicle then struck a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by Christopher Ousley, 34, of Leesburg. The Malibu was stopped facing northbound on State Road 13, prior to the crash. After the collision with the Ram, Ousley's vehicle overturned, trapping him within the car.


The deputy immediately called for assistance and began to render aid to the injured parties. Units responded from the North Webster Police and Fire Departments, Pierceton Police Department and the Turkey Creek Fire Territory.


Hawthorne was airlifted from the scene by the Parkview Samaritan Air Ambulance and was conscious and alert at the time of this press release.


Ousley was extricated from the Malibu by the North Webster Fire Department and was transported from the scene, with a complaint of neck pain.


Ousley's front seat passenger, Loretta Ousley, 62, of Leesburg, was transported from the scene to a Fort Wayne hospital, with a facial injury.


Shepherd did not complain of injuries.


This crash remains under investigation by the Kosciusko County Sheriff's Office Fatal Team.

Escaped Starke Co. inmate captured in Hendricks Co.

An inmate has been apprehended near Indianapolis after escaping near Starke Hospital in Knox.


The Starke County inmate, Bradley Smith, 32, was captured about eight hours after news of his escape was released to the public.  The public was warned not to try and apprehend Smith.


Smith was being held at the Starke County Jail on charges of battery or battery by bodily waste against a public safety official, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct.




Lawn equipment, tools recovered with multiple drug arrests

Multiple drug related arrests made by NET 43 included the recovery of thousands of dollars of tools and lawn equipment.

Johnny McCrory reports.








  M. Howard






  T. Howard


Rochester councilman, attorney to vie for District 18 seat

A Rochester attorney has thrown his hat into the ring for the District 18 Senate seat.


Brian Fitzwater says he saw an opportunity with departure of Randy Head who announced his retirement from the state senate in late July and became Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Pulaski County.



Fitzwater says local highway issues are among concerns he sees in the area.



He believes his background in the law, as well as politics, are a positive.



Fitzwater joins announced candidates including:


Rochester resident Amy Roe, former executive director of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce and current president of Fulton County H.O.P.E.


Cass County Councilwoman Stacey Donato


Flora Town Councilman Jake Adams


and Grissom Air Reserve Base security officer and firefighter Jeffrey Staker


The Republican caucus is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., on September 9 at the Miami County 4-H Community Building in Peru.  The person chosen by the caucus will finish the remainder of Head’s term through 2020, serving Cass, Fulton and Miami counties and portions of Carroll, Kosciusko and Marshall counties.

NIPSCO underway with cleanup of former gas plant property in Rochester

NIPSCO is getting underway with cleanup of a former gas plant property in Rochester.


NIPSCO has announced the expansion of an environmental study and addressing on-site issues at its vacant property at the northwest intersection of 8th Street and Indiana Avenue.


NIPSCO says it has an ongoing program to study former sites where gas was historically manufactured to learn what environmental impacts may have occurred.  Based on available historical site information, a manufactured gas plant operated on Eighth Street from around 1906 until 1930.


NIPSCO has coordinated its study in consultation with IDEM and the City of Rochester.  Plans are to clean the site and prepare it for potential redevelopment down the road.


The first stage of work involves digging out the below ground contents / rubble of a former manufactured gas holder and replacing this area with clean fill. This will allow for the installation of a new natural gas main at the site.


During the second phase of work, NIPSCO will retire an old gas main and remove remaining contaminated soils and replace them with clean soils.  In addition, the company will be collecting more soil and groundwater samples. The results will guide decisions on the need for further investigation and / or additional cleanup. NIPSCO will be working at the site and in adjacent, city-owned, right-of- way areas through the remainder of 2019, weather permitting.



The company will try to minimize construction impacts to the neighborhood during this work. Neighbors will still notice an increase in noise and truck traffic on weekdays between 7:00 am and 5:00 pm.


People in the area may also notice an occasional odor of tar or mothballs. Air monitoring will be conducted during work activities to ensure the safety and protection of the workers and surrounding community.


The site is already surrounded by a fence with a locked gate and this will not change. Construction trucks will enter and exit the site from Indiana Avenue.

Caucus set to choose replacement for Senator Randy Head

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer has officially called a caucus of eligible precinct committee members to fill the upcoming vacancy in the office of Senate District 18. The seat is currently held by Sen. Randy Head, whose resignation from the Indiana Senate will be effective August 12, 2019.

The caucus will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET, on Monday, September 9, 2019, at the Miami County 4-H Community Building, which is located at 1029 W. 200 N., Peru, IN 46970.

The individual selected at the September 9 caucus will fill the remainder of Sen. Randy Head's term. 

"Senator Head's service will be greatly missed both at the Statehouse and across Cass, Fulton, Miami, Carroll, Kosciusko and Marshall counties," said Hupfer. "He's been a leader on criminal justice issues -- especially when it comes to protecting children -- and attacking Indiana's drug epidemic."

Individuals interested in running in the caucus should contact the Indiana Republican Party Secretary at dzagone@indiana.gop to ensure they file the proper forms prior to the deadline, which is 72 hours prior to the vote. The caucus will be open to credentialed media who pre-register to Holly Lawson at hlawson@indiana.gop prior to 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, September 6.

A Facebook Live Stream will be available at www.facebook.com/indgop for members of the public who wish to watch the caucus live. More details regarding caucus procedures and candidates will be released after the filing deadline.

Fulton County HSE program underway

The Fulton County HSE Program (former GED program) has launched a new program. 


Free practice TASC readiness tests and individualized training to help students be successful is being offered.  Instructors are available Monday and Wednesday evenings and Tuesday and Thursday mornings.


For more information, you can stop by the Rochester Learning Center, 1820 Park Road, or call 574-223-1600 ext. 6.

Weekend AMBER Alert canceled; suspect turned himself in

A weekend statewide AMBER Alert was canceled after the suspect involved turned himself in with the children.


No other details have been released about the Starke County alert from the town of Hamlet.


The Hamlet Police Department requested the activation of an AMBER Alert early Saturday.


The listed victims were Ayden Mendez,  7 years old, and Yulianna Mendez, 3 years old.


The suspect was Francisco Javier Mendez, 28.