News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

November 16, 2013

Despite recent spike, violent crime falling in Wabash Valley

Close proximity of homicides, media attention belie actual statistics that show falling rates

TERRE HAUTE — With two recent homicides and a suspected murder-suicide being investigated by area police agencies in recent weeks, it may seem that violent crime is on the increase in Vigo County.

But a preliminary look at statistics may not support that assumption.

Most recently, a man was found dead in the basement of a home on First Avenue in Terre Haute. Police are seeking suspects in that homicide.

On Oct. 26, a woman was found stabbed to death in her home at Gaslight Estates. She was killed allegedly by a person who knew her.

On Oct. 19, the bodies of a man and woman were found under a bridge in northwestern Vigo County. An investigation revealed that the woman was strangled, and toxicology results are pending on the man. The couple had been in a relationship.

Other violent crimes also seems to be on the increase in recent weeks, local authorities acknowledge, but a check of court and jail records shows no rise in violent deaths compared to past years.

“It may just be that in the past six weeks we have been busier after a pretty slow summer,” Sheriff Greg Ewing said this past week when asked to review local crime statistics.

Assistant Chief Shawn Keen of the Terre Haute Police Department agreed.

“The summer was quiet,” Keen said last week. “Then it seems like it has just hit all at once. But really, we aren’t seeing a big rise in violent crime. In fact, it’s gone down over the past few years.”

Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt agreed.

“I know there are more A and B felonies filed this year, but that includes a lot of drug crimes,” Modesitt said, noting that drugs and alcohol are also common factors when violent crimes occur. “It feels a little worse because it seems a little hectic right now.”

Sheriff Ewing pointed out that the public may be more sensitive to violent deaths in recent weeks because of a triple fatality at a railroad crossing in northeastern Vigo County on Oct. 23, as well as some suicides that occurred in September during National Suicide Prevention Week and soon after.

“It all tends to add up,” Ewing said. “We are hearing more about it now, because things are happening right now, but overall, it’s not worse than last year.”

Assistant Chief Keen said that city police have noticed a decline in crimes such as robberies and batteries, in addition to gun crimes, but he said the statistics for 2013 will not be released until early 2014 so that comparisons can be made.

Part of the feeling that violence may be on the rise is that more media attention is being given to criminal activity, especially through online sources.

"Violent crime rates have been steadily dropping across the nation since the early 1990s, however media coverage has of such crimes has escalated,” said Dr. Franklin T. Wilson, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Indiana State University. “Just this past year, the FBI released a report documenting the steady decline of violent crime.”

But Wilson noted that when violent crimes occur in a particular city or region, and there is heightened media coverage of the crime, public fears can and usually do escalate. It creates a heightened perception of danger.

“Specifically, it often raises the public’s fear of strangers – what we criminologists refer to as ‘Stranger Danger’,” Wilson said.

Statistically, however, a person is more likely to be harmed by someone they know, rather than a stranger. An examination of the recent violent crimes in the Terre Haute area reveal that most of the alleged victims knew their attackers.

For example, Vigo County Jail booking records show that 211 people had been arrested for domestic battery as of Nov. 14. For all of 2012, there were 210 arrests made for domestic battery. That is an increase from 183 in 2011, but in 2010, there were 230 individuals arrested for domestic battery. Ewing said that seems to indicate that the incidences of domestic violence fluctuate some, but arrests are remaining steady.

As for robbery, those arrests also tend to fluctuate. Arrest records show that 32 people were arrested for robbery in 2010, compared to 21 in 2011, 40 in 2012, and so far in 2013, only 27 robbery arrests have been made. That does not mean that there are numerous unsolved robberies in which no arrests have been made, by the way.

As for aggravated battery, in which a victim sustained permanent physical injury, the arrest numbers have been in decline. In 2010, 58 people were arrested on the charge, while in 2011 there were 45 arrests made. In 2012, police made 17 arrests for aggravated battery. And with about six weeks left in 2013, police have arrested 18 people on the same charge.

Ewing said that the booking charges typically reflect the crime as seen by the officer who responds to the scene. While a person’s criminal charge may change later when the prosecutor’s office files the formal charges, the officer making the arrest must have probable cause for the initial charge.

A look at homicide statistics show a similar steady trend.

Three people have been charged with murder in Vigo County in 2013. Another two people have been charged with attempted murder related to shootings in which the alleged victims survived. And a third person has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after he allegedly battered a man who later died while incarcerated in the Vigo County Jail.

That amounts to six active murder cases filed in Vigo County, with a seventh case pending related to the Nov. 8 shooting death.

In 2012, arrests were made in five murder investigations. Two of those cases have been resolved – one with a jury trial conviction and another with a plea agreement. In both cases, the victims and suspects knew each other. Another attempted murder has been resolved with a plea agreement. In the two murder cases still pending in the county court system, both victims knew their alleged attackers.

In 2011, police investigated two shooting deaths that resulted in convictions. Two other murder convictions came as the result of one incident in which a teenager died in a carjacking in which three teenagers participated. Another conviction came for attempted murder when a person robbed a local motel, shooting the desk clerk, who survived.

In 2010, three murder charges were filed in county courts, along with an attempted murder. Two of the cases were resolved with plea agreements for guilty convictions. The attempted murder case – in which a woman admitted to attacking the parents of a newborn infant in an attempt to steal the baby – was also resolved by a plea agreement. The third murder case – filed in a decades-old murder case in the Riley area – remains active after two mistrials, with a third jury trial set for January.

Vigo County is not alone in experiencing violent incidences that result in death this year.

Greene County has experienced a

highly publicized homicide of a Linton teenager. Two suspects have been charged in her death and are awaiting trial. Investigators have stated that drug use was a factor in the Greene County homicide case.

In Parke County, a Rosedale man is awaiting trial in the homicide of his girlfriend during the summer.

In Sullivan County, a December 2012 home invasion and the murder of that rural resident remains unsolved, though Indiana State Police continue the investigation. Police have stated that theft and robbery appear to be the motives for that home invasion.

ISU’s Wilson said that one of the most accurate predictors for an increase in violent crime is the economic condition of the city or region. That is due to various stressers placed on individuals. Wilson said that many stressers can be alleviated by funding more social services for those suffering from unemployment or other socioeconomic-based issues.

While the local economy may play a factor in many property crimes, Assistant Chief Keen said that even property crime statistics have shown a decline in thefts during recent years.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • MET073114griffin markers.jpg Trail blazers

    Blake Griffin remembers when he and his brother, Dale, would ride their bikes along wooded trails in the wilderness area of Fowler Park.

    July 31, 2014 7 Photos

  • Officials say city ‘overspent’

    Two Terre Haute councilmen told the Taxpayers Association of Vigo County Thursday they think the city is overspending, but they gave no solutions to reduce expenses.

    July 31, 2014

  • MET073114sinkhole korenski.jpg Block downtown to close for repairs

    A sinkhole is forcing the temporary closure of a major downtown street beginning Monday.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 012312 MICK NEWPORT.jpg Wave of retirees at Vigo schools

    Valarie Bailey has worked for the Vigo County School Corp. for 26 years in roles that included at-risk counselor, school social worker, assistant student services director and curriculum coordinator.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire house to fire dept.

    A legal battle has been resolved to restore ownership of the community fire station in Fayette Township.

    July 31, 2014

  • Road Closings

    14th Street, from Oak to Poplar streets, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 9 for Friends and Family Weekend.

    July 31, 2014

  • August Fire Safety Tip

    Monthly safety hint — Barbeque/grilling safety

    July 31, 2014

  • MET 073014 WESTMINISTER DIG.jpg Expanding independence

    Westminster Village, a Terre Haute retirement community, is investing $1.8 million to construct 12 new villa homes, officials announced Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 5 Photos

  • Decades later, dry cleaners leave blemish

    Fifty years ago, about 30 dry cleaners did business in the city of Terre Haute. City officials are now cleaning up the mess some left behind.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MARK BENNETT: Year of River sets example for state

    Terre Haute pays more attention to the Wabash River these days.

    July 30, 2014

  • Climate of less regulation, more chemical spills leaves ‘historical pollution,’ NCA director says

    Former dry cleaning sites are an environmental problem all over the state, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MET073014parks bbushee.jpg Camping turnout low for first half of summer

    Camping revenue for the past two months has dropped in Vigo County parks, a downturn park officials say is difficult to attribute to a new park policy limiting campers’ stays to 14 days in the three county parks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 073014 DESTROYED.jpg Devastating fire takes out mobile home

    A Seelyville mobile home sustained heavy damage in a fire early Wednesday morning.
    Lost Creek Township firefighters were called to the scene in the 2200 block of Tabortown Road south of U.S. 40 at about 2 a.m.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Man posts bond after fatal wreck

    An Oct. 7 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man accused of driving while intoxicated causing death.

    July 30, 2014 3 Stories

  • Driver injured, airlifted, cited for failure to yield

    An elderly woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Sullivan County, according to Indiana State Police.

    July 30, 2014

  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News