The new year begins today, but several events featured in our list of top 10 stories of 2012 will continue to affect the community through 2013 and beyond.
Readers of the Richmond Register were asked earlier this month to complete an online survey to select the top 10 local stories of the year from a list of 15 choices. During the 11 days of voting, 82 people voiced their opinions about what has affected them, and their community, the most during the past year.
Today’s edition features the top five choices (with two ties). Monday’s edition had the stories that placed six through 10.
1. Bodies of Sonsaray Warford and Charles Walker found after they were reported missing nearly two years earlier
The couple’s bodies were found in shallow graves off Tates Creek Road this spring, and police believe two men --Daniel Keene and Matthew Denholm -- were hired by a local drug dealer to kill Walker.
The “hit” was put out because the dealer, Jakolbe Chenault, believed Walker had stolen money from him several years before, according to police testimony. Warford was Walker’s girlfriend and was with him the day they were kidnapped from the Keystone Drive home they shared.
Their families reported them missing in June 2010. Through their investigation of a cocaine drug ring, police were able to get information about what happened to the couple, which resulted in the arrest of Keene. Keene reportedly confessed to the killings.
Another man, LeBruce Ellington, has been indicted on complicity charges in the case. Denholm was already in jail facing a murder charge in the shooting death of a Berea man in November 2011.
Keene and Denholm are set for an Aug. 12 jury trial, and the commonwealth’s attorney has the option of pursuing the death penalty.
A music and entertainment benefit this spring is being planned to help the children of Warford and Walker, according to David Dilligaf of Dilligaf Entertainment.
2. Chenault cocaine-trafficking drug-ring members enter guilty pleas in federal court
Jakolbe “Kolbe Cheese” Chenault, along with seven others and his supplier, pleaded guilty to charges related to drug trafficking in Madison County. Their sentences ranged from 12 months to 30 years.
While Chenault was serving a short sentence on a wanton endangerment charge in late 2011, his girlfriend and others continued to deal cocaine. Police raided her Louisville home, discovering 3.5 kilograms of cocaine and more than $98,000 in cash and firearms, according to a federal complaint.
In his October plea agreement, Chenault admitted to dealing large quantities of cocaine, and the money was laundered through Chenault’s Richmond clothing store, JaRu’s New Fashions, and through payments on a Richmond home.
Police court testimony and a search-warrant affidavit also have accused Chenault of hiring the two men who killed Charles Walker and Sonsaray Warford although he has yet to be charged in their deaths.
3. (tie) Construction begins on student apartment complex across from EKU on Lancaster Avenue
Despite opposition from property owners in the Barnes Mill Road neighborhood, the Richmond City Commission approved the rezoning of 15 acres across from Eastern Kentucky University as multifamily.
Grand Campus Properties LLC of Lexington paid $2.4 million for the land to build an apartment complex that would house 512 people. A century-old fire-damaged home was demolished to make way for the new construction.
One of the 64-unit buildings will be ready for occupancy when students return in August 2013, according to Ed Worley, who is developing the property with Brent Rice.
In addition to its two residential buildings, the complex will include a club house, swimming pool and a pedestrian bridge across Lancaster Avenue.
3. (tie) Parents of 7-month-old Serenity Dawes plead guilty to manslaughter, murder in baby’s death
William and Diana Dawes pleaded guilty to killing their infant daughter, Serenity Dawes.
Serenity was rushed to the hospital June 29, 2011, when she stopped breathing while at her Richmond home with her father, according to the Kentucky State Police. She was placed on life support at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, but there were no signs of brain activity.
Serenity died the next day.
The baby’s autopsy showed she had multiple injuries, including a broken leg, two broken ribs, a grab or ligature bruise are her arm, bruising on her body and her brain in parts was "liquefied,” according to an assistant commonwealth’s attorney.
William pleaded guilty to murder and received a sentence of 35 years in prison. Diana pleaded guilty to manslaughter, receiving a sentence of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors believe William inflicted the severe injuries on the baby while Diana failed to notify authorities or get medical help for her child.
4. (tie) Waco woman killed, house set on fire
The body of Ana Marshall, 86, was found inside her burning College Hill Road home during the early morning of March 25. Much of the house was engulfed by the blaze when firefighters reached the scene.
An autopsy revealed she died of blunt force trauma, and the fire was suspected to be arson. No arrests have been made as Kentucky State Police continue to investigate the homicide.
Police ask that anyone with information about case call the KSP at 623-2404 or toll free at 1-800-222-5555.
4. (tie) William Tribble charged with killing great-grandmother in three-year old case
More than three years after JoAnn “Margie” Tribble was found dying from a head wound in the garage of her Teakwood Drive home, her great-grandson William Cody Tribble was charged Sept. 19 with her murder.
In an interview with police investigators, Tribble admitted to assaulting the 78-year-old woman with a hammer at her home on July 20, 2008, according to the arrest citation.
Tribble is alleged to have committed the crime when he was 17, so he initially was arrested as a juvenile. After a closed hearing, the case was transferred to Madison Circuit Court and Tribble will be tried as an adult.
Tribble is next scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 14.
5. Election year leads to changes in local and state government
The nation’s president may not have changed in the November election, but several local governmental bodies will be seeing new faces in 2013.
In May, Darlene Snyder defeated Jennifer Webb and Brandy Winkler to become Madison circuit court clerk. There were no Republicans or independents in the race.
Two new people will be joining the Richmond City Commission, Laura King (formerly Laura Durham Morgan) and former firefighter Jim Newby. They replace outgoing members Jason Morgan and Richard Thomas, who were not re-elected.
In Berea, former member Chester Powell and newcomer Chad Hembree will be joining the eight-person city council.
Only one of the four Madison County School Board members up for re-election was replaced, with Mary Renfro defeating Christopher L. Hager.
While Rita Smart and Donna Mayfield retained their spots representing Madison County in Frankfort, Jonathan Shell will be a newcomer in the state house next year.
Finally, Republican Andy Barr unseated Ben Chandler to represent Kentucky’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Murders, elections rank high on list
- Local News
County’s jobless rate improves
Madison County’s unemployment rate for June, 6.5 percent, was a full percentage point lower than a year earlier and 0.2 points lower than in May.
Young inventors turn trash to treasure
The first day of Camp Invention began with a room full of objects ready to be recycled, Sarah Shaffer, director of the camp said Thursday.
Four arrested on meth charges at Berea motel
Berea Police arrested four people Wednesday at the Knights Inn on Chestnut Street, including a man they said tried to conceal a meth lab on his person.
Fridays, Saturdays added to depot’s detonation calendar
The Blue Grass Army Depot is adjusting its weekly schedule for detonating obsolete and unserviceable conventional explosives because of a higher-than-normal number of delays this season.
County, cities asked to ban indoor smoking
The Madison County Health Board voted 9-1 Wednesday to ask the county’s three local governing bodies to ban smoking in indoor public places.
4-H exhibits are family affair for the Houstons
Five children from the same family were the first to bring their 4-H exhibits Wednesday to the Madison County Fairgrounds.
Apartment owners made responsible for garbage pick up
The Richmond City Commission took a step Tuesday to address a long-standing problem with trash collection at multi-family residential properties in the city.
One arrested, one sought in Sunday home invasion
Two men in search of another man broke into a Keystone Drive home Sunday and harassed residents in another nearby home Monday, according to a Richmond Police report.
Minerich buys Acres of Land property for $730,000
Lowell and Katherine Land’s dream of converting their Poosey Ridge property from a tobacco farm to a vineyard and winery ended with a foreclosure auction Tuesday morning.
Guns stolen from home that burned
At least eight firearms, including four handguns, were reported missing from the Cottonwood Drive home that burned early Thursday morning, Assistant Richmond Police Chief Bob Mott said Tuesday.
- More Local News Headlines
- County’s jobless rate improves