Top Stories Of 2012

Since officially launched on April 30, 2012, we’ve been covering some of the biggest stories in Kosciusko County and keeping track of what our readers are reading.

Although it has not been a complete year for us, these are the top 10 stories of 2012 since our launch in April, as decided by our readers:

No. 1: A Mentone father and son died just hours apart in two separate suicides. Nicholas D. Lowry, 18, of Mentone, was found shot to death on the afternoon of Dec. 3, 2012. Police say he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shortly before midnight that same day, David D. Lowry, 53, torched the family home and outbuildings then shot himself to death. (See story 

No. 2: The suicide of a 15-year-old Wawasee High School student on Nov. 13, 2012, set off a series of student suicide threats and attempts and prompted school officials to call a public meeting to address the issue. Kalee Nicole Skaggs was said to be overwhelmed with grief after the September 2012 death of her boyfriend and took her own life by stepping into the path of a train. (See story)

Francisco Gonzalez

Francisco Gonzalez

No. 3: Five Amish teens escaped serious injury when their horse-drawn wagon was hit head-on by a drunk driver. On Sept. 29, 2012, Francisco Gonzalez, 24, of Warsaw, drove past the wagon on Sheldon Street, made a U-turn in the Walmart parking lot, and drove head-on into the horse pulling the wagon. (See story). Warsaw Police issued a news release two days after the incident saying it was not intentional. Witnesses on the scene, however, and the father of one of the victim’s, disputed police findings. (See story)

No. 4: A tragic accident on July 5, 2012, in Warsaw claimed the life of a local man. Shaun C. Owens, 32, died on impact when his car struck a utility pole on CR 350 West. The car disintegrated upon impact. Speed was a factor in the crash. (See story

Aurora ShoemakerNo. 5: The mysterious disappearance of Aurora Shoemaker on Aug. 16, 2012, remains unsolved. The 18-year-old was last seen at about 4 p.m. that Thursday when she went for a walk in Suburban Acres Mobile Home Park. Several sightings trickled in over the first several weeks, but detectives have not been able to confirm any of the alleged sightings. (See story

No. 6: The youngest person to ever be sentenced to an Indiana prison for his role in a murder appealed his conviction and won. Paul Henry Gingerich was only 12 when he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, a class A felony. Gingerich, now 14, was convicted in 2010 for the shooting death of Philip Danner. On Dec. 11, 2012, the Court of Appeals of Indiana unanimously reversed the Cromwell teen’s conviction. (See story

No. 7: An Akron father and daughter were killed in a Dec. 22, 2012, car crash in Wabash County. Tippecanoe Valley Middle Schooler Brittany Arceneaux, 13, and her father, John LeeRoy Arceneaux, 50, died at the scene of the 4:58 p.m. crash on the Eel River Bridge. Their vehicle was struck head-on by one driven by a Warsaw woman who was passing on icy roads. (See story)

IRS at StimmelatorsNo. 8: Federal agents raided the North Webster business and home of long-time controversial businessman Sam Stimmel. On Sept. 12, 2012, agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division converged on Stimmelator’s Gentlemen’s Club and California Dreamin on East Washington Street, and at Stimmel’s private home on Syracuse-Webster Road where they spent most of the day searching through the buildings. In the end, agents hauled away boxes of alleged paperwork but have so far refused to give any information. To date, no charges have been filed. (See story)

No. 9: On Dec. 11, 2012, police were called to a Milford bar where a woman walked in and first announced she had been shot. The woman soon noted she had actually been stabbed in the chest and blamed the incident on a girlfriend. It didn’t take police long to discover Chantel Drake, 41, of Camp Mack Road, Milford, actually stabbed herself. (See story

No. 10: A Warsaw middle school teacher was arrested Aug. 21, 2012, for having an inappropriate relationship with a female student. Tyler Baatz, 26, was initially charged with child seduction and sexual misconduct with a minor, but in a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 6 years in prison on only the B felony charge of sexual misconduct. Baatz admitted to a relationship with a 14-year-old student at Edgewood Middle School. (See story

Other notable stories of 2012 include:

Sherri Faye Shell

Sherri Faye Shell

  • the arrest of Sherri Shell. Shell was arrested Oct. 9, 2012, and charged with two felony counts of child abuse after Jefferson Elementary School officials received two letters from the woman. The letters tried to explain away injuries sustained by two children – a 6-year-old and 7-year-old – later identified as her boyfriend’s children. Shell has been in the Kosciusko County Jail since her arrest as she is unable to make bail or identify a permanent resident. (See story)
  • the lawsuit filed by Dr. Dane Miller charging his former business partner with theft, fraud and conversion. During the week of June 27, 2012, an amended lawsuit filed was filed in Kosciusko Superior Court 1 by Miller against Brent Wilcoxson, former operations manager in The Winona Restoration Company. Wilcoxson allegedly used his authority to transfer ownership of several of Miller’s properties to his own nonprofit business. The suit claims more than 17 properties were unlawfully obtained by Wilcoxson. (See story)
  • the county’s largest heroin bust on record happened Nov. 14, 2012. Officers of the Warsaw Police and the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s departments worked together to locate a methamphetamine lab and make an undercover drug purchase. The investigation led them to Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park where officers from the Warsaw/Kosciusko County SWAT took several people into custody and seized firearms and over 100 small bags of heroin. (See story)
  • a ribbon cutting of a new orthopedic company in Warsaw. On Oct. 17, 2012, Iconacy held it’s grand opening. President and CEO Tom Allen said $2.63 million was invested in the company, which produces and markets a total hip replacement system and holds an estimated 36 patents. (See story)
  • the Oct. 26, 2012, arrest of a Pierceton pastor charged with sexually assaulting a handicapped teen. Robert Haywood, 77, of Warsaw, served as the pastor of Harvest Time Ministries Church in Pierceton when he was arrested for allegedly fondling and having sexual intercourse with a mentally handicapped 14-year-old girl. Haywood has been charged with one count of sexual misconduct with a minor, a class B felony; sexual misconduct with a minor, a class D felony; and sexual battery, a class D felony. (See story)
(Photo courtesy of Sarah's sMILES)

(Photo courtesy of Sarah’s sMILES)

  • the giving of a gift fit for a princess. Suffering from Mitochondrial Disease, 4-year-old Sarah Landrigan was given a gift she and her family won’t soon forget. Mitochondrial Disease is an illness that prevents Sarah’s body from converting food and oxygen into energy efficiently. The disease also causes seizures, ketotic hypoglycemia, persistent fatigue, developmental delays, severe muscle weakness and gastrointestinal issues. Due to her illness, Sarah had never been trick or treating, but thanks to some caring hearts at Sacred Heart Catholic School where Sarah attends pre-school, she was able to take part in the Halloween activity for her first time this year. (See story)
  • the launch of social media to help a local man find a kidney. About five years ago, Mike Stetzel was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and told he needed a kidney transplant. With the help of local company Pay Pro Media, which specializes in website design and promotion, the concept to use social media to help Stetzel find a kidney donor was born. (See story)
  • a history making event has a local connection. On Oct. 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner made history when he leapt from a balloon capsule more than 24 miles above Earth. On that history making team was a Warsaw man, Tony Marshall. Marshall is probably best known as a member of the local band The Sock Monkeys and owner of Tony’s Teez screen printing company in Warsaw. But Marshall can take some credit for the success of the live-streamed record-breaking skydive. (See story)
  • the return of Stacey Page. First established on Sept. 1, 2009, under the name, on April 30, 2012, Stacey Page Online debuts. Page joined forces with The Papers Inc. in Milford and relaunched with a bigger and better news site offering breaking news, local news, local sports, obituaries, business news and public records all for free. (See story)



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