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FLOWERS: NEW GRACE COUNTY’S OLDEST COLD CASE RESOLVED – THE CRIME

By:  Shawn Erickson   It was a death that affected an entire community; a tragedy that became even more profound when the efforts of one stubborn young detective revealed a horrifying truth:  what first appeared to be an accident turned out to be murder.  As the community mourned, the investigation ground to a halt, the case files were put in a box and relegated to the shelves of open-unresolved crimes.  But more than forty years later, the same detective, no longer young but equally stubborn, found a seemingly insignificant clue that led him to identify, track down and arrest the perpetrator. In the early...
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FLOWERS: NEW GRACE COUNTY’S OLDEST COLD CASE RESOLVED – THE DETECTIVE

  by Shawn Erikson Alfonse Swanson was destined to become someone special, or at least that’s what his mother always told him.  From a very early age, Alfonse displayed a great curiosity for the world around him, and an aptitude for learning and memorizing even the most obscure details.  Alfonse’s parents had high hopes for their son; they were convinced that one day he could become a teacher, a lawyer or perhaps even a doctor.  But those dreams were shattered when Alfonse’s father died.  Alfonse was only thirteen years old at the time, and his mother took him and...
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FROM MISDERMEANER TO FELONY – A ONE MINUTE JOURNEY

by SHANNON LONGNECK On Wednesday, June 14, a young woman was selling her graphic novels at the 8th Street Flea Market. Two twenty-somethings approached. While one distracted her, the other grabbed three novels in their protective cases and ran off. The distractor followed. Three nearby New Grace police officers heard her scream and saw the men running. One officer went to speak to the woman and two pursued the runners into the parking lot. “That’s when it all went sideways,” said Officer Ben Knightly. A car pulled into a spot and when the driver opened the car door one man...
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HAUNTED HOUSE RETURNS BOYS

by Shannon Longneck On October 31 Marsha Mann of Vision Street contacted the police and reported a strange phenomenon at the house across the street. “We get calls like that all night,” said 911 operator Melody Hoffman. “I thought it was just another Halloween prank until she told me it was the same house that sixteen-year-olds Jason Norrel and Jeffrey Camas were last seen entering on September 17, 2015.   The boys have been missing since that night. In total there were twenty-two calls to 911 from other residence of the subdivision. Police were dispatched to the scene first and then...
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HOME AGAIN

by B J BECKHAM – Yesterday Anita Woods was returned to New Grace from Jacksonville, Florida and was formally charged with embezzlement for absconding with over $25,000 from the Youth Mission Fund of Shiloh Presbyterian Church in Godfrey. Ms. Wood fled New Grace minutes before Sheriff Ozell ‘Ottis’ Keith obtained a warrant for her arrest. Anita Woods is a graduate of USC, Columbia with a bachelor degree in finance and received an MBA from Furman University. She became a certified public accountant in 2005. She has been the CFO at the church since 2009.  Ms. Woods was earning $32,000 a...
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HOMEOWNERS TAKES ON HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION

by SHANNON LONGNECK The neighborhood of Summerly in Rosemeade, which was devastated by the October flooding and condemned, is now facing an unprecedented battle between the homeowners. In March a consortium of local builders announced their plan to purchase the homes, level the neighborhood and rebuild. This plan would require the homeowners’ assign their government buyout money to the builders for full value and provide the homeowners their buyout money quicker than they would get it from the government. Most of the homeowner were happy to accept the offer. “I sent emails to all the residents in our contact...
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HOTTS OUT, KOLDS IN

 by B J Beckman Election day has come and gone and so has Mayor John Hotts of Herricks Bay. In what can only be described as a landslide, the incumbent Mayor was voted out of office. As of October 21st Mayor Hotts was running unchallenged for a 4th term in office, but his late night escapades at The Hallmark Motel in Rosemeade gave rise to a fight for his job. Although the charge of solicitation was dropped even though he was found naked with a woman who has two arrests for solicitation, Mayor Hotts is still charged with indecent...
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JASON NORREL AWAKE

by Shannon Longneck – After 24 days in a coma Jason Norrel  awoke in New Grace County Hospital.  Jason is one of two boys reported missing on September 16 and found on October 31.  Dr. Milton Ross remains baffled by the boys’ condition. “It is not like any other coma I have seen.  Both of them appeared to be in a constant state of REM sleep.  As one would expect during REM, their heart rates were elevated and their breathing quicker.  This would have been acceptable except they were thrashing around in their beds, as if they were in...
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JEWEL THIEF BACK IN COURT

by B J BECKHAM   The trial of Opal May, which began on December 24th  in the New Grace County Courthouse,  continued Friday . To recap – Craig LaPorte of the Attorney General’s office promised the jury he would present video and documents to prove defendant Opal May, owner of Krystal Karats, staged the robbery of her own store and in her attempt to flee the scene caused the death of Theresa Burkart.  Ms. May is charged with felony murder, insurance fraud, discharging a weapon within the town limits and filing a false police report. Rachel Shorte of Henley, Martin and...
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JUSTICE FOR ALL – Part One

 THE CASE FILES OF ALFONSO SWANSON   by Shawn Erickson As a homicide detective, you form a special relationship with the victim starting the moment you enter the crime scene.  That’s when you see the victim for the first time … exposed, vulnerable and violated.  I often find myself kneeled down next to a body, willing it to speak to me, to tell me how it ended up with the fatal knife wound, or bullet through the chest.  And then and there I promise the victim I will find out who did it, and bring that person to justice....
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