Post-Tribune Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us (Editor) Post-Tribune 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ ValPlayso: A park by the people, for the kids ]]> Lead story image

VALPARAISO — Kaye Frataccia walked around ValPlayso on Sunday like a real estate agent showing off the amenities of a nearly finished new home. Against the reverb of hammers and power tools, Frataccia, co-coordinator of the project with Rob Thorgren, pointed out the playground’s wide ramps for greater accessibility, the artwork of students and local artists that graces the equipment, and the additional seating and greater site lines offered by the new playground, as opposed to the old one. “One of the reasons we redid it was parents said visibility was not good,” she said, before pointing out the benefits … ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 02:05:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Funeral home owners step up to help murder victims’ families ]]> Lead story image

Two area funeral home owners have reached out to the families of two of Darren D. Vann’s alleged victims to provide comfort and services for them. Camellia Ridgell-Robinson and Calvin Pennington, proprietors of Smith-Bizzell Funeral Home in Gary and Golden Gate Funeral Home of Chicago, met with the family of Anith Jones Thursday afternoon to finalize details of her funeral, which they’re providing without charge. The body of Jones, 35, was found this week at a vacant house at 421 E. 43rd Ave., after Vann told police that the body was there. Vann, 43, of Gary, is charged with her … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:56:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Long-awaited road to Gary casino complex completed ]]> Lead story image

GARY — Beginning early next week, Majestic Star Casino patrons will have a direct route to its parking garage. On Wednesday, officials snipped the ribbon on the $9.4 million glistening asphalt overpass and access road leading into Buffington Harbor where two Majestic Star gaming boats are moored. The access road heralds the end of years of bickering and lawsuits between the city and casino. Majestic Star, arguing the access road was part of a 2005 local development agreement, withheld payments to the city that reached about $15 million. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday the opening of the access road fulfills … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:00:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Hunt for evidence continues in suspected killer’s dumping ground ]]> Lead story image

GARY — Investigators from the Lake County Coroner’s Office gathered evidence Thursday to assist in determining the identities and time of death for two of suspected serial killer Darren Vann’s seven victims. A board-up crew from the city planned on sealing up the front entrance to the building at 413 E. 43rd Ave. in the city’s Glen Park section after the workers were finished. St. Joseph’s College instructor Anne Perez, a forensic entomologist, is assisting on the case along with three graduate students. They collected insects from the scene. Perez and the students will examine the presence of certain insects … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:32:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Law & Order: Gary woman injured when fight turns violent ]]>

A 47-year-old Ambridge-Mann woman was seriously injured Thursday morning when an argument turned violent, police said. ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:50:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Firing of cop riles some in Lake Station ]]> Lead story image

LAKE STATION--Mayor Keith Soderquist stood behind the Board of Works’ decision to fire longtime police Sgt. Bill Taylor on Tuesday, though Soderquist did not cast a vote on the matter. Taylor served on the police force for 22 years. A group of residents have rallied behind Taylor and plan to protest his termination at 10 a.m. Friday at City Hall. They called Taylor’s termination political retribution and said members of the Taylor family have had a rough relationship with Soderquist and other city officials. Taylor referred media calls to his attorney, Ed Merchant, of Indianapolis, who stopped short of calling … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:58:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Officials say compromise near on E-911 deal ]]>

CROWN POINT--Officials from Lake County’s E-911 consolidation and the three communities looking to form their own public safety answering point may be dialing in on a compromise. representatives from Cedar Lake, St. John and Schererville appeared Thursday before the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission to make the pitch for their PSAP to serve as a live back-up for the county’s consolidated E-911. The proposal received a tepid reception from E-911 commission members but led to what may be the first potential break-through in bringing the two sides together. “We are talking compromise at this point,” said Thomas Dabertin, E-911 … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:12:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Merrillville man gets 4 years in Gary robbery ]]>

A former Gary man who was acquitted in a 2013 double homicide was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for robbery. Samuel L. Franklin, 22, of Merrillville, admitted in court that he was at Brunswick Cleaners in the 4800 block of West 5th Avenue in Gary, when he and accomplices stole money and a cell phone from a woman. The robbery occurred Jan. 20, 2012. Franklin pleaded guilty to the charge on Aug. 28. His plea agreement outlined the sentence that was imposed by Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell. At the time of the robbery, Franklin was … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:36:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ After 4 years in jail, woman released without a trial in daughter’s murder ]]> Lead story image

An East Chicago woman held more than four years in the county jail in connection with the murder of her daughter was released Thursday because she wasn’t brought to trial soon enough. Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray told Maya Willis she will be required to be on the ICU electronic monitoring program. Willis will live with her grandmother in Gary. Willis, 36, has spent more than four years in jail on charges of murder, battery and neglect of a dependent in the Sept. 30, 2009, death of her daughter, 19-month-old Mariah Dawson, who died of craniocervical injuries with bleeding … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:58:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Dyer man charged with molesting girl, 13 ]]>

An 18-year-old Dyer man has been charged in Lake Superior Court with child molesting involving a 13-year-old girl. Nicholas Christian Minkema is charged with molesting the girl on Aug. 30 at his residence in the 1000 block of Devonshire Lane in Dyer. The girl told police she has known Minkema for several years and went to the basement of his residence with his grandmother. When the grandmother went upstairs, Minkema molested her, court records state. The girl said similar activity had occurred five or six times in August. The charge is a Level 4 felony, which is punishable by two … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:22:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Inmate says he heard suspect talk about Gary killing ]]>

Lake Superior Court jurors heard a second day of testimony in the murder trial of a Gary man charged in a 2013 shooting. Jerode Cursey, 23, has pleaded not guilty in the Sept. 17, 2013, killing of DeWayne Young, 39, who was found with multiple gunshot wounds inside a black Chevrolet Blazer parked near Cursey’s residence at 1546 Delaware St. Edward Neely, 51, testified that he was in the Gary police lockup on the day of the homicide and overheard Cursey tell another cellmate, “I had to burn a (expletive).” Neely said Cursey, who was talking with two other men … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:16:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Merrillville councilman issues vacant home warning ]]>

MERRILLVILLE — Saying he doesn’t want Merrillville to be “the next big thing on the news,” a member of the town council said he wants to make sure all houses that have been abandoned for a few years be identified and boarded up. Councilman Richard Hardaway’s call for action comes on the heels of the grisly discovery of six bodies in abandoned houses in Gary, all of whom may have been victims of suspected serial killer Darren Deon Vann, of Gary. A seventh body was discovered in a Hammond motel. “We will be in the plywood business if we need … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:58:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Merrillville sets conditions for proposed clean fill operation ]]>

MERRILLVILLE--The Town Council agreed the current owner of the property on 73rd Avenue where a clean fill operation is proposed must meeet a list of conditions first. Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said the site must be secured before the end of the year by the estate of Walter David Reinhard, the current owner. The two ponds, one of which is 49 feet deep, according to a resident who said he fishes there, remain from a sand mining and processing company that operated at the 42.3-acre site in the 4000 block of West 73rd Avenue from 1980 to 2003. “I will … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:16:57 -0500 <![CDATA[ Hobart OKs resolution for Hanson Cold Storage abatement ]]>

HOBART -- A business is one step closer to the tax abatement it requested. The Hobart City Council on Wednesday approved resolutions giving Hanson Cold Storage real and personal property tax abatements for its proposed 85,000-square-foot addition at its 2201 Northwind Parkway location and set a Nov. 5 public hearing on the abatements. A spokesman said the addition is a $9.5 million investment by the company and will result in 15 to 20 new jobs. The company now employs 65 people. City Planner Sergio Mendoza said the Plan Commission approved the site plan for the addition at a special meeting. … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 02:03:38 -0500 <![CDATA[ Murder suspect refuses to take oath in initial hearing ]]> Lead story image

CROWN POINT — Suspected serial killer Darren Deon Vann refused to answer questions Wednesday during his initial hearing. Vann, 43, of Gary, stood silent next to his public defender, Matthew Fech, as Lake Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan asked him to be placed under oath so she could inform him of the charges and his constitutional rights. “Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to participate in this hearing?” Sullivan said. When Vann didn’t respond, Sullivan said: “I take that as a yes,” and aborted the hearing until next week. Sullivan told Fech to inform Vann he would remain in jail … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 02:02:54 -0500 <![CDATA[ Few Lake County candidates show for public session ]]>

MERRILLVILLE — Candidates and residents were in short supply Wednesday for a candidates meet-and-greet session at the Lake County Public Library. County Sheriff John Buncich, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Dan Bursac, were joined by candidates for the county council — Eldon Strong, the incumbent District 7 Republican, and Katy Dowling, Democratic candidate for the 4th District — and the Republican candidate for county assessor Jolie Covaciu. Assessor candidate Jerome Prince, a Democrat and a current county councilman, joined the meeting from a prior engagement about half way through the session. Covaciu and Strong are seeking their first general … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 02:01:43 -0500