Indiana Archives:

FRANKLIN COUNTY, INDIANA (BNO NEWS) — Five people were found dead inside two homes in southeast Indiana on Sunday afternoon, police said on Monday. Both scenes are believed to be linked.

Sergeant Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police said the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department first received a call at 1.23 p.m. local time on Sunday from people traveling on a road near Laurel, stating they saw a small child wondering around in the roadway.

“The good Samaritans did not see any adults with the child so they stopped and stayed with the child until police arrived,” Goodin said. “A deputy arrived and began talking to the small child and other neighbors in the area. After gaining more information he called for backup from other officers.”

Soon after, troopers from the Indiana State Police and an Indiana Conservation Officer arrived at the scene. The officers began a search of the area and located the body of a dead male at a home nearby. The bodies of four other people, two males and two females, were located at another home across the road.

It is believed at least some of the victims were shot dead. “At this time Indiana State Police Crime Scene Investigators, detectives from the Indiana State Police Post at Versailles and officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department are still trying to determine exactly what happened,” Goodin said. “It is unknown if there is one or multiple shooters. It is also unknown at this time if the shooter or shooters could be among the deceased.”

As police are unsure about the details of the killings, officials have urged people living in the area to be careful answering their doors and to report any suspicious activity immediately by calling 911. Anyone with information is being asked to contact police.

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INDIANAPOLIS (BNO NEWS) — The death toll from a stage collapse caused by strong winds at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis earlier this month has risen to seven, officials said on Tuesday.

The incident happened on August 13 at around 8.49 p.m. local time when a massive gust of wind brought down an outdoor stage that was set up for a concert by the country music band Sugarland at the state fairgrounds.

Indiana State Police First Sergeant Dave Bursten said on Tuesday that the death toll rose to seven after 24-year-old cheerleading coach Meagan Toothman of Cincinnati, Ohio died at 3.31 p.m. local time on Monday.

“Information was received from the Marion County Coroner’s Office that a seventh person passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the stage collapse that occurred at the fairgrounds on Saturday evening, August 13, 2011,” Bursten said in an e-mailed statement.

Bursten said Toothman was kept on life support until a surgery could take place on Monday afternoon in order for her to donate her organs. “Late last night it became apparent that our Meagan was no longer with us,” Toothman’s family wrote in a statement on Monday morning. “The decision was made to allow to her to be at peace.”

The family said a surgery took place on Monday afternoon which provided “gifts of sight, health, and life to dozens who are in need.” “We hope that she will continue to touch more lives in the same way through her passing,” the statement said.

The family of Toothman thanked everyone who kept them in their prayers. “It has been humbling to see the huge number of people Meagan has touched in such a positive way,” the family said. “The outpouring of love and hope was more than we could possibly expected and was an inspiration to all of us to keep her fighting.”

The statement concluded with: “Her light will continue to shine on all of us as her journey of hope continues on to heaven.”

According to the National Weather Service, which had issued a severe thunderstorm warning 10 minutes before the accident happened, winds are estimated to having been between 60 to 70 miles (96 to 112 kilometers) per hour at the time of the accident, which is near hurricane strength. Preparations were being made to evacuate the area when the stage collapsed.

The incident, which also injured 45 people, is still being investigated.

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INDIANAPOLIS (BNO NEWS) — Five people were killed on Saturday and dozens more were injured when strong winds caused a stage to collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, officials said.

The incident occurred at around 8.49 p.m. local time when a massive gust of wind brought down an outdoor stage that was set up for a concert by the country music band Sugarland at the state fairgrounds. Dozens of concert-goers rushed to lift the wreckage and help those trapped underneath.

“The winds came, the big dust storm moved from the west and, no sooner than that, hit. The winds hit and the canopy over the stage was just like a big sail. It just picked it up, twisted it and right on top of everybody standing in front of the stage,” one witness told WTHR 13.

Indiana State Police First Sergeant Dave Bursten said five people were killed while 45 others were transported to hospitals with injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to fractures and severe head trauma. The youngest victim to be injured was a seven-year-old child.

The Marion County Coroner’s Office identified the youngest fatality as 23-year-old Alina Bigjohny from Wayne, Indiana. The other fatalities were identified as 42-year-old Tammy Vandam of Wanatah, Indiana, 49-year-old Glenn Goodrich of Indianapolis, 29-year-old Christina Santiago of Chicago, and 51-year-old Nathan Byrd of Indianapolis.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels expressed condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy. “Indiana and the nation’s finest state fair suffered an unthinkable tragedy last night. Our first and final thoughts today will be with those we’ve lost and the families and friends of those we’ve lost in this terrible accident,” he said.

Sugarland posted a brief message on their Twitter account after the accident, saying: “We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength.”

According to the National Weather Service, which had issued a severe thunderstorm warning 10 minutes before the accident happened, winds are estimated to having been between 60 to 70 miles (96 to 112 kilometers) per hour at the time of the accident, which is near hurricane strength. Preparations were being made to evacuate the area when the stage collapsed.

“The coordinating investigative agency is the Indiana State Police,” said Bursten. “Other investigative agencies are the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, the Marion County Coroner’s Office, the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Each agency will be investigating within the scope of their area of expertise.”

The Indiana State Fair is closed on Sunday but will resume at 8 a.m. local time on Monday with a Remembrance Ceremony at the Free Stage in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds.

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VALPARAISO, INDIANA (BNO NEWS) — Two 13-year-old children from Indiana were charged on Wednesday after they were found ‘sexting’ with each other, police said on Thursday.

Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, usually via mobile phones. It has become a controversial issue in recent years when it involves children as prosecutors are unsure how to stop and how to punish the behavior, which can have devastating consequences.

In the latest case in Indiana, Valparaiso police were called to Thomas Jefferson Middle School on Wednesday after school officials learned that two 13-year-old students, a boy and a girl, had been texting nude photos of themselves to each other.

“Police learned through their investigation that the photos were sent in late March of this year and that both students had the photos stored in their cellular phones,” Sgt. Michael Grennes said. He did not say how school officials found out about the photos.

“Police contacted the Juvenile Probation Department and both students were released to their guardians with charges of Child Exploitation referred to the Juvenile Probation Department,” Grennes added.

One in five teen girls and boys has admitted to sexting, according to a survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. An even large number said they had received sexually explicit photos of other children which were meant to be private, highlighting the risk of sexting.

But as the case in Indiana shows, both children involved can also face serious charges for the behavior, which some have argued should not be prosecuted when it only involves children. Some of those charged as a result of sexting have been placed on sex offender registries, effectively ruining their chances of having a normal life.

As state sex statutes were written before cell phones and the Internet, more than a dozen states are currently considering rewriting sex laws to update them in order to separate sexting from child pornography. This would allow lighter punishments for those caught sexting.

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NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — Prosecutors on Monday announced that the United States entered a $11.5 million settlement agreement with Motors Liquidation Company, formerly known as General Motors Corporation (‘Old GM’) natural resource damage at five contaminated sites.

According to Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the settlement agreement concerns environmental liabilities for injuries to natural and cultural resources under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The U.S. government will received allowed general unsecured claims collectively exceeding $11.5 million for the restoration of wildlife, habitat, and other natural resources managed by state and tribal governments.

The offenses took place at five sites: two sites contaminated with hazardous waste in New York and Indiana and an additional three sites for past assessment costs in New Jersey.

The amount will be paid in stocks and warrants of the General Motors Corporation (‘New GM’). In June 2009, ‘Old GM’ filed Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

That same day ‘Old GM’ and three wholly-owned subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy, the company also filed a motion to sell substantially all of its assets to a newly formed corporation, now known as General Motors Company (‘New GM’).

At that time, the company was the second-largest automotive manufacturer in the world. On March 7, the U.S. and Old GM entered a $50.6 million settlement agreement over environmental liabilities.

These agreements are part of a series of settlements of GM’s environmental liabilities that have recovered more than $800 million for cleanup of contaminated sites nationwide.

In October 2010, the United States entered into a $773 million settlement agreement with ‘Old GM’ to resolve its liabilities at 89 sites. In December 2010, the U.S. entered into six settlements totaling $25 million with the company to solve environmental liabilities at six sites.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (BNO NEWS) — A Hammond, Indiana teenager was sentenced on Thursday to 180 years in prison for his participation in the double murder of the parents of former CLTV talk-show host Garrard McClendon, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Reo Thompson, 18, was convicted along with 19-year-old Gregory Brooks, also of Hammond, in the deaths of Ruby McClendon, 76, and Milton McClendon, 78, in 2009. Brooks was already sentenced to 120 years in prison.

The bodies of the McClendon couple were found on October 19, 2009 in a forest preserve near suburban Calumet City in Illinois. Their 1997 Cadillac Eldorado was found abandoned on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago.

Thompson and Brooks admitted that they had targeted the couple, who were popular in Hammond due to their son’s talk-show. They admitted forcing their way into the couple’s home at gunpoint and demanded money and valuables from them.

After the robbery, the co-defendants forced the McClendon couple into the trunk of their Eldorado vehicle and drove them to the forest preserve. After arriving at the place, Thompson and Brooks shot the couple and left them there.

After the bodies and the car were later recovered, authorities found DNA in the car which led them to the suspects. In addition, Brooks was recorded by a surveillance camera selling the couple’s jewelry at a pawn shop for $70.

When police officers arrested Brooks, he was wearing a bracelet that had the names of the couple’s children and grandchildren inscribed on each link. Since then, both of the teenagers have plead guilty to the crimes.

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(Eds: Corrects name of U.S. state in title.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — U.S. Senator-elect Dan Coats of Indiana on Tuesday evening delivered the following remarks at the Indiana Republican Party Election Night Celebration after defeating Democrat Brad Ellsworth.

“Thank you Marsha and Thank You Indiana.

Thank you all for your strong support and bringing us to a big victory tonight.

We are grateful for your support, your enthusiasm and your generosity. We could not have done it without you.

As Marsha said, watching from the sidelines as to what was happening to our country, we could not stand to sit idly by without getting back in to the arena.

We did so, we did so because we believe that it’s important for the future of our country that each of us – each of us had the opportunity to take the opportunity to get engaged and get our values in front of the people.

This election has been a healthy exercise in democracy because the choice for Hoosiers has been very clear.

Tonight folks, Hoosiers have made their choice.

Hoosiers have every reason to be proud – because, with your help, we have done our part by turning a U.S. Senate seat from one that has fundamentally supported the Obama regime to one that firmly opposes it.

Today our country is going through tough times. Our economy is weak and Hoosiers are out of jobs. And even in times of economic crisis, we also have to remember that we still live in a dangerous world. A world where people want to kill us, take down our economy, and end our way of life.

But the good news is that Americans, and Hoosiers, have always risen to the challenge. And we have risen to the challenge tonight.

As conservatives we believe that America’s best days are ahead.

We also know that it takes strong leadership and the right policies to unleash the can-do spirit of America – to create jobs and hope and prosperity, and to keep Americans safe from harm and wrong.

Getting our country back on track and getting Hoosiers back to work will take more than just saying no. That’s why I have proposed forcing Congressional restraint through earmark reform, through a line-item veto, and through balancing the budget once and for all.

Tonight I want to thank each and every one of you for all the support that you’ve provided us. Financially, from volunteers, to those who made the phone calls and turned out the vote across this state.

I want to thank my dedicated staff, and all the many volunteers who have helped us in the office.

You know, when we first started this in February, those cold days, through the hot summer and into the sunny, cool November, I have been listening to the people of Indiana and I have heard you loud and clear.

From Angola to Evansville, Madison to Hammond, South Bend to Scottsburg, and places in between. I have listened to you.

I thank you for stepping up and speaking up. For caring enough about the future of Indiana and the future of our country to make a statement tonight! Believe me, the country is listening, and the world is watching.

Once again, Indiana is leading the way to change.

Tonight we celebrate, but with tomorrow’s dawn come responsibilities.

For me, the responsibility is you. Because I’ve been chosen by the people of Indiana to stop reckless spending, to fight for our national security, to fight against a government take-over of health care, and to fight for every Indiana job.

And that is exactly what I will do. God willing, God Bless You, God Bless America, God Bless the great State of Indiana.”

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SPOKANE, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) — Authorities have issued an Amber Alert for three children who were abducted by their father in Spokane, Washington on early Wednesday afternoon. He may be en-route to Indiana.

The abduction took place around 1 p.m. PDT in Spokane when 33-year-old Chad Phillips abducted his three children from court following an adverse court ruling. Phillips has no custody of the children and police are concerned for the children’s welfare due to his history of assaultive behavior.

The first victim was identified by police as 10-year-old Kaleb Phillips. He is described as a 4 feet tall white boy with blue eyes and blonde hair. He weighs around 80 pounds.

The second victim was identified as 8-year-old Dawson Phillips. He is described as a 3 feet tall white boy with blue eyes and blonde hair. He weighs around 60 pounds.

The last victim was identified as 6-year-old Bishop Phillips. He is described as a 3 feet tall boy with blue eyes and blonde hair. He weighs approximately 50 pounds.

The suspect, their 33-year-old father Chad Phillips, was identified as a white male with blue eyes and blonde hair. He is about 5 feet and 10 inches tall and weighs approximately 180 pounds.

Police believe the suspect and his children are driving in a 1996 dark green Chevrolet Monte Carlo with Indiana license plate IU4676. They may be en-route to Indiana.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (BNO NEWS) – An unidentified man on Tuesday killed one person and injured two more in Illinois and Indiana. The man is on the loose and is being described as mentally unstable, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The unknown individual randomly struck conversations about honeybees and plywood with complete strangers before opening fire on them. The first shooting took place at around 10.30 a.m. local time in Will County, Illinois.

A man drove to a fire-damaged house near Beecher. He drove past the house twice asking about the home, about honeybees and about plywood. The residence was under construction by a three-man crew from an Indiana firm that specializes in rebuilding burned buildings.

The third time the suspect returned he opened fire at the crew, fatally shooting a 45-year-old individual in the head. He then proceeded inside the house where he seriously wounded a 19-year-old man in the stomach and head.

The third crew member managed to escape by running into a cornfield after the shooter fired at him. After police officers arrived at the scene, he was shown pictures of possible suspects but he was not able to identify the attacker.

About forty minutes later, a man fitting the description of the gunman wounded a farmer in Lowell, Indiana. The 64-year-old man was driving his pickup truck when a stranger pulled over and began talking about honeybees and plywood.

He then asked the farmer if he knew someone selling a property. The farmer handed him a piece of paper with a fake name and address. In return, the suspect shot him three times. Two bullets pierced his arm and shoulder and the other missed him.

Emergency crews are patrolling the area to look for the assailant. A county sheriff’s helicopter is also helping in the search efforts. In addition, two schools in Lowell were placed on lockdown after the shooting.

The suspect is described as a male in his 40′s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and disheveled-looking. He was allegedly wearing a light green windbreaker, a light-colored shirt, light jeans, brown shoes and possibly a baseball cap. He was last seen driving towards Gary, Indiana.

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NEW ALBANY, INDIANA (BNO NEWS) – 21 individuals on Thursday were indicted for participating in a cocaine distribution conspiracy, so far 17 of these persons have been arrested and the remaining 4 have yet to be taken into custody, prosecutors informed on Friday.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers also served 16 search warrants; eight in Indiana, seven in Kentucky and one in Illinois. During the execution of these search warrants, approximately 10 ounces of cocaine, $82,000 in cash and 30 firearms, including two AR-15′s were seized.

The arrests were a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Indiana State Police, the Jeffersonville, Indiana Police Department and the Charlestown, Indiana Police Department.

On September 20, a grand jury returned an indictment charging 21 individuals with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine. Only three individuals were charged with different offenses.

Nia Bottoms and Amber Tucker were charged only with one count of knowingly and intentionally using a communication facility to facilitate the commission of an act constituting a felony. Jesse Bottoms, Jr. was charged with one count of transferring a firearm that was subsequently used in a drug trafficking crime.

Evidence showed that since July 2008, Jesse Bottoms Sr. was the leader of the cocaine trafficking operation. He was responsible for acquiring large quantities of cocaine from his sources and then providing cocaine to mid-level cocaine distributors in southern Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.

In addition, bulk quantities of cocaine and cash were maintained at stash locations in Louisville, Kentucky. In order to protect their money and drugs, conspirators possessed assault rifles, shotguns and pistols.

Each defendant charged with conspiracy to distribute and to distribute cocaine faces a maximum of life imprisonment. Nia Bottoms and Amber Tucker face up to four years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Jesse Bottoms Jr. faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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