Newspaper clips

RETURNING TO CIVILIAN LIFE – SOME MEMBERS OF 163RD STRUGGLE AS THEY READJUST
Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, January 21, 2007
Jimmy Nesbitt , Courier & Press staff writer

For Donald Montgomery, the moment came in the booth of a Denny’s restaurant. Between bites of breakfast with his wife, Angela, a semi roared past the diner.

The windows vibrated. The floor shook. The lights above them flickered. Montgomery briefly reverted into survival mode. Instinct told him to dive under the table, food and all.

Then it hit him: I’m no longer in Iraq.

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POLICE LAB FACES CASE LOGJAM

Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, October 30, 2005
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

The one-year anniversary of their murders passed and still there was no trial.

Two Pike County, Ind., paramedics — Brad Maxwell and Marsha Rainey — were found dead April 19, 2001, at a Petersburg, Ind., ambulance shelter. Both had close-range gunshot wounds.

A co-worker, Christopher Helsley, was arrested and charged with the murders. Investigators found part of the murder weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, in Helsley’s Pontiac Grand Prix. The trial was scheduled to begin in December but was delayed six months because the Indiana State Police Crime Lab in Evansville needed more time to test evidence.

“We couldn’t understand why they were so far behind in their work,” said Maxwell’s grandfather, Charles Maxwell Jr.

Maxwell didn’t know that the crime lab had a backlog of thousands of cases. Understaffed and underfunded, forensic scientists scrambled to meet court dates. Some left the state police to join private labs that doubled their salaries.

The crime lab became known as “the logjam of the criminal justice system,” said Eric Lawrence, director of Forensic Analysis for the Indiana State Police Crime Lab System.

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SHARING HORROR OF RAPE
Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, April 9, 2006
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

On the morning of Feb. 4, 2005, Penny Mitchell, the general manager of Chili’s Grill & Bar on Green River Road, was raped inside the restaurant after it had closed. It was one of the most brutal rapes ever reported in Evansville in which the victim survived. The crime has yet to be solved.

This year near the anniversary of the crime, Mitchell contacted the Evansville Courier & Press saying she wanted to share her story to help other sexual assault victims.

Today’s story, the first of three, is based on police reports, a copy of a 911 phone call made from the restaurant and numerous interviews with Mitchell, her family and friends and police who are investigating the crime.

* * *

Unaware she was being watched, Penny Mitchell, general manager of Chili’s Grill & Bar on Evansville’s Green River Road, said goodbye to the last employee and turned her attention to closing up the restaurant early on the morning of Friday, Feb. 4, 2005.

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PAIN DOESN’T END WITH RAPE
Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Monday, April 10, 2006
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on the Feb. 4, 2005, rape and beating of a woman who police say survived one of Evansville’s most brutal rapes. The case remains unsolved. The series, reported with the help of the victim, is based on police reports, numerous interviews with the victim, her family, her friends and the police .

* * *

“Sexual assault turns you into both a victim and a survivor. You were victimized once when you were rendered helpless in a situation of great danger. Then, if you received any rejecting, callous or impersonal treatment from others, you were victimized again” — The Rape Recovery Handbook.

Penny Mitchell lay on the cold office floor and begged for someone to cover her body. Her clothes were ripped, her hair covered in vomit.

“We’re going to get you out of here. OK, Penny ?” a male officer said. “We’re going to get you covered up.”

He left, and a female officer came in to interview Mitchell privately.

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HELP IS OUT THERE – `TAKE YOUR TIME. HEAL AS YOU CAN.’
Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

About two weeks after she was raped, Penny Mitchell hobbled with the help of a cane into a therapist’s office.

She had moved to a new city to be closer to her family.

(Mitchell asked that her new hometown not be published out of fear her attacker might find her.)

Asked to evaluate on a scale of 1-10 her quality of life before and after the rape, she found only her relationship with family had improved.

Everything else — pride, happiness, trust in the world and hope for the future — was worse.

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WOMEN WHO KILL ARE RARE GROUP

Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

If the person who robbed and killed Georgia “Jean” Cook is a woman, she’ll join a rare group of criminals — women who murder.

Between 1995 and 2003, women accounted for less than 8 percent of all murders committed in the United States, according to FBI statistics. Often, their victims were abusive or cheating husbands, estranged boyfriends or other relatives.

“I cannot think of a case in Southwest Indiana where a woman was committing a crime and then ended up killing somebody,” said Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Ringle.

Cook, 56, of Evansville was shot twice Oct. 6 during a robbery at the Busler’s store on U.S. 41 and Old State Road.

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CITY MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY – CHANCE TO USE EMINENT DOMAIN ON MCCURDY LOT LOST

Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Thursday, October 11, 2007
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

Evansville city officials once had an opportunity to use the power of eminent domain to purchase a piece of property that later cost taxpayers $603,000, a deal that netted a 382 percent profit for Evansville businessman John Dunn.

In January 2006, the city’s Redevelopment Commission placed the parking lot at 118 to 120 SE Riverside Drive on its acquisition list. The lot is adjacent to the McCurdy, the health facility and former hotel. Three months after putting the parking lot on the list, the city learned Indianapolis developer Scott-Hilliard-Kosene was interested in purchasing the McCurdy.

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COMBINED PROBLEMS – WHY EVANSVILLE’S SEWERS ARE SO EASILY OVERLOADED

Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, October 28, 2007
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

During a recent debate between City Council candidates, each was asked to prioritize the top issues facing local government. All, both Democrats and Republicans, agreed the No. 1 issue is fixing the city’s sewers.

But the similarities stop there. The majority of Republican candidates believe a greater emphasis should be placed on addressing the city’s sewer and flooding problems. Democrats quickly point to the projects started and planned under Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

The problem with the city’s sewers, however, is much bigger than the political debate over them. Actually, there are two separate problems, one with flooding on the city’s Southeast Side and a much larger one of how to replace half of the city’s antiquated sewer systems. The latter is a vast project that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions.

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ARENA WOULD SHIFT CITY’S FINANCES – PULLING FROM THREE REVENUE SOURCES CREATES TRADE-OFFS

Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, December 14, 2008
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

A clearer picture is emerging of the multiuse arena proposed for Downtown Evansville to replace the aging Roberts Stadium.

After consultants unveiled a highly detailed site and financing report last week, the arena now has a face, a recommended location – and a price tag.

The London Witte Group, an Indianapolis-based consulting firm, also presented a plan for paying for it.

Evansville, the consultants concluded, can pay for a new arena costing up to $127 million – without raising property taxes – by using revenue from the Downtown tax increment financing district, Casino Aztar and the food and beverage tax.

While the consultants have identified potential funding sources to pay for an arena, they have not discussed what trade-offs would be involved in the city’s tapping them.

Those are the same revenue sources used by the city and county to renovate The Centre, purchase firetrucks and police cars and provide financial incentives to companies such as Vectren and American General.

Click here to read a PDF of the full story.

SOFTBALL SLOWLY STRIKING OUT – LEAGUES HAVE BEEN ON DECLINE FOR MANY YEARS
Evansville Courier & Press (IN) – Sunday, May 29, 2005
Jimmy Nesbitt, Courier & Press staff writer

The parking lot is noisy.

Baseball cleats click on hot blacktop as softball teammates gather around pickup trucks before the 7 p.m. games on Wednesday night at Wesselman Park. They sit on tailgates and share bottles of beer as music blares from car stereos. The weather is perfect. Children run at their feet.

On the field, umpire Jeff Carver paces behind the plate. The aluminum stands behind him are nearly empty.

They used to be full.

Click here to read a PDF of the full story.

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