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
Water Street storm-water digging begins
Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.
RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home
Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.
Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea
Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.
A race to the finish line
Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.
Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society
Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.
Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.
Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’
Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.
At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.
That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.
Fire training tower going up
A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.
Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.
Pavement work to restrict I-75 in Rockcastle County
Beginning Sunday until about the end of November, Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County will be reduced to one lane in each direction between mile points 58 and 66 for pavement work.
Jailed woman charged with heroin trafficking
A Richmond woman already jailed on another charge was served with a drug trafficking warrant Thursday.
- More Local News Headlines
- Water Street storm-water digging begins