Thursday, April 24, 2014

Crane Man Jailed For Desecrating Headstones:


A man from Crane has been charged with institutional vandalism for allegedly destroying headstones in Charity Cemetery late last year.  

Timmy Lee Mace, 32, is back in the Stone County jail after he failed to appear in court and did not complete court ordered treatment.

A witness told Stone County deputy Mark Rinker that "it looked like Timmy was trying to tear down a swing over a grave."  The deputy noted that several other headstones, flower arrangements and an arbor had been damaged. 

"When I arrived on scene, I observed a male subject in the road jumping up and down, waving his hands above his head as if doing jumping jacks," Rinker writes in the probable cause statement.

"During the entire incident Timmy was acting erratically, constantly in motion and to to himself or others that were not there."

A preliminary hearing on the matter has been scheduled for May 13th.

Mace is being held in the Stone County jail on $25,000 bond.

Preliminary Hearing For Hailey Owens' Alleged Killer Postponed:


The preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing 10 year-old Hailey Owens has been rescheduled for May 22nd after Judge Mark Powell allowed prosecutors to amended charges to include statutory rape and sodomy charges against Craig Michael Wood.

Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson filed a supplemental probable cause statement on Monday (04-21-14) to have the charges amended to include the sex charges.  Wood's attorney, Patrick Berrigan, told the court that simply was not enough time for him to prepare for the hearing.

Berrigan took issue with the fact that an autopsy on the little girl was completed on February 20th but Patterson waited until days before the preliminary hearing to file the amended charges.  Medical examiners say Hailey had been sexually assaulted.

"No explanation whatsoever has be proffered as to why the State waited until three days before the scheduled preliminary hearing to attempt to add new felony charges based on information available to the prosecution for over two months now," he wrote.

Hailey was kidnapped off a street in broad daylight on February 18th.  Her remains were found in two trash bags stuffed in a plastic tote in the basement of Wood's home within several hours of her disappearance. Autopsy results indicate she had been shot in the head.  Bleach bottles were scattered on the floor of the basement, according to court documents. 

Wood was arrested as he returned to his house from a nearby laundromat where he had taken bedding and clothing to be laundered.

Earlier this week Judge Powell ruled that four SPD officers who were subpoenaed by the defense to testify would not be able to because they were not properly served.  Patterson told the court that subpoena's are routinely served to a desk sergeant or other representatives of the PD who personally delivers them to personnel called to court.  State law says witnesses must be personally served.

One of the next motion's expected to be filed in this case is one for a change of venue, which will be granted due to the extensive media coverage this case has garnered.

Hailey's family is advocating lawmakers to make changed to the Amber Alert system.  Stacy Barfield, Hailey's mom, believes it took too long for authorities to issue the alert because of the cumbersome paperwork requried and technical glitches that hindered the alert from being issued faster.

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Celebrate Family" Event Held In Galena:


Several agencies in Stone County who make up the Healthy Families Task Force recently took part in an event to combat child abuse and "Celebrate Family."

Those agencies included OACAC, Parents as Teachers, the Lakes Area Child Advocacy Center, Stone County Health Department, Stone County Prosecutor’s office, Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), the Southern Stone County and North Stone Northeast Barry County fire protection districts. 

Each agencies table, which were placed around the front of the town square in Galena, featured interactive activities, such as educational games about safety, free bike helmet fittings, and samples of healthy snacks. 

Some Stone County elected officials grilled hot dogs for the dozens of children, families and county dignitaries who attended

Event organizer Zana Schafer says an eight year-old boy who arrived at the event on his bike with an ill fitting helmet left the event with a new helmet provided by one of the agencies.

Water In Crane Voted Top Five In State:


The Missouri Rural Water Association says the water in Crane is one of the top five best tasting waters in the state in preliminary judging for the "Great American Water Taste Test."

Crane public works board member Dallas Hilton will deliver a final water sample for judging on April 23rd and a winner will be announced that day.

City leaders say the plan to contact the same people who managed the city pool last year to see if they're interested in working this year.  The pool is scheduled to open on May 24th and will remain open for 12 weeks.

Mayor Collin Brannan told the board of alderman that school officials have approved a ballpark lease between the entities and they will be sending the proposal soon for board approval.

Board members also approved annexation ordinances for a portion of MO Route 265/413 and Route D just south of the city.

Board members authorized Mayor Brannan to sell a tract of land, lot 22 of the Gipson Addition, to an adjoining land owner. 

Brannan reported that he is working on the city storm siren system in order to better and more accurately serve the citizens of Crane.

A state wide search is underway to find a replacement for a new city administrator.  Bob Savage recently left that position after two years with the city.

The board authorized the following payments: electric $71,621.30, general revenue $4,964.18, parks $4,778.53, trash $150.00, street $1,757.40, and water $64,738.43. 

Beef Prices Skyrocket:


Expect sticker shock when you go to the grocery store to pick up some hamburger.

Beef prices have skyrocketed in recent months and are at their highest since 1987.  A dwindling number of cattle and growing demand from other countries for U. S. beef have helped drive the cost of ground beef up to about $3.55 per pound.

That's up 56 percent since 2010. The average price for round steak is at $5.28 a pound, one of the biggest spikes in the last 20 years.

Experts say prices are expected to climb for a few years as cattle producers rebuild their herds. Farmers in the southwest and midwest have been hit hard the last few years with droughts and will need enough rain to keep pastures green in order to feed their herds.
California, which is a major producer of milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, is suffering from extreme drought conditions now.  Prices on those products are expected to rise as well. 
Some shoppers say they are turning to chicken or pork, but those prices are expected to climb too.
Some independent restaurants have increased their menu prices or switched to smaller steaks to combat the price spike. 
An economics professor says chain restaurants combat the price increases by buying in bulk.

New Youth Camp Coming To Lampe:


Groundbreaking on a new $20 million dollar non-denominational Christian youth ministry located in Lampe took place this week.

Clearwater Cove, which will operate under the arm of Young Life, is being constructed on 276 acres off of Majestic View Lane along Table Rock Lake.

"We've raised the seed money necessary to get started," said Terry Swenson, director of communications for Young Life.

"Clearwater Cove will be a another of Young Life’s premier camp properties, welcoming kids from a nine-state area to a life-changing camp experience."

The plan is for campers to be on the land, which was purchased 10 years ago, by the summer of 2015.  Young Life currently operates 32 camps worldwide that cater to junior high and high school students.

For more information visit: 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Turnbough Sentenced To Five Years In Prison:


Adam Turnbough (mug shot SCSO)

A man from Branson West was sentenced to 5 years in prison after making a surprise plea last week.

Adam Turnbough, 29, admitted to having sex with a 16 year-old girl two years ago at his parents home during a pre-trial conference last week, according to Prosecutor Matt Selby.

Turnbough, was also sentenced to 5 years in prison for stealing a computer from Wal Mart in Branson West last fall.  That sentence will be served concurrent (at the same time) to the other sentence.

Reeds Spring Man Charged With Sex Crime Wants New Judge, Change of Venue

Johnny Kelley

 A man from Reeds Spring charged with five counts of possession of child pornography wants his case moved to another county.

Attorneys for Johnny Kelley made that motion and another for a change of judge when Kelley appeared in circuit court for arraignment last week.

Authorities seized a laptop computer that allegedly contained numerous pornographic images from Kelley's home last fall.

Johnny Kelley remains in the Stone County jail on $100,000 bond.

William "Tim" Kelley

His brother, William "Tim" Kelley, a registered sex offender, is facing two counts of statutory sodomy for allegedly assaulting children his mother was babysitting.  He is being held in the Stone County jail in lieu of $1 million dollars bond.

New Representatives Sworn In To Serve On Stone County Extension Board:


Stone County Clerk swears in from left Kenan Sims, Deb Waterman, John Elmore, and Diane Asher

Four people were sworn in last week to serve the community as part of the Stone County Extension board.

Kenan Sims is the youth representative at large.  Deb Waterman will represent the southern part of the county, John Elmore will serve as the representative for Crane and Diane Asher will represent the central part of the county.

Tim Schnakenberg says that in order to fall within state statutes representatives from different parts of the county are either appointed or elected to serve on the 12 member board.

The board oversees about $50,000 in appropriated funds by the Stone County Commission that are used for educational programs throughout Stone County, according to Schankenberg.

Three people were honored as part of the Stone County Extension honor roll for significant contributions to the Extension program in Stone County.  They are Connie Johnson of Galena, Mary English of Crane, and Tom Keohan of Kimberling City.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fight Over Beer Leads To Stone County Man's Death:


Cherlynn Ranee Davidson (mug shot SCSO)

A woman from Clever is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, domestic assault and two counts of armed criminal action for allegedly killing her ex-husband in a dispute over beer on Sunday (04-13-14.)

Authorities called to 938 Richwood Schoolhouse Road, off of M Highway in the northern part of the county, found 56 year-old Garrett Davidson dead on the living room floor.  He had been shot in the chest.
Cherylynn told investigators that she got the gun after Garrett got a beer from the refrigerator. She pointed the loaded weapon at her husband in an attempt to make him put it back "because he was on a two beer limit," court documents say.

She is being held in the Stone County Jail on a $100,000.00 cash only bond.

Clever Woman Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter:


Cherlynn Ranee Davidson (mug shot SCSO)

A woman from Clever is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, domestic assault and two counts of armed criminal action for allegedly killing her ex-husband in a dispute over beer on Sunday (04-13-14.)
Authorities called to 938 Richwood Schoolhouse Road, off of M Highway in the northern part of the county, found 56 year-old Garrett Davidson dead on the living room floor.  He had been shot in the chest.

Cherylynn told investigators that she got the gun after Garrett got a beer from the refrigerator. She pointed the loaded weapon at her husband in an attempt to make him put it back "because he was on a two beer limit," court documents say. 
Cherlynn Davidson, 58, told investigators that the couple had been arguing "when she pointed a gun at him and it discharged."
She is being held in the Stone County Jail on a $100,000.00 cash only bond.

Former Grand Dragon Of KKK With Ties To Aurora Charged With Hate Crime Murders:


Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Glenn Miller)

Frazier Glenn Cross has long been a controversial figure in southwest Missouri.  He blanketed southwest Missouri in the 2000's with a newspaper he operated that spewed hate filled rants against Jews and people of color. 

Cross/Miller, who lives in between Aurora and Marionville, is the former head of the KKK and is known throughout the Ozarks as Glenn Miller.  He faces three counts of murder after he allegedly opened fire at a Jewish community center and a Jewish run assisted living center near Kansas City on the eve of Passover.

It appears federal murder charges will be filed against the 73 year-old man as federal prosecutors say they are pursuing the matter as a religiously motivated "hate crime."  

Those charges would apply if the murders Cross/Miller is accused of were motivated by the victims' "race, color, religion or national origin."

The Jewish community center was a hub of activity on Sunday as rehearsals ls for a performance of "To Kill A Mockingbird" were scheduled and auditions for "KC Superstar", an American Idol type competition to find the best high school singer in the Kansas City area, were set to begin.

Sixty nine year-old William Corporon had driving his fourteen year-old grandson, Reat Underwood, to the center to audition for the singing competition.  They died after they were ambushed in the parking. They were both Methodist.

William Corporon and Reat Underwood

Two other people that Cross/Miller shot at were not injured.

After shooting Corporon and Underwood, Cross/Miller then went to the Village Shalom senior living facility, where he shot and killed Terri Hastings LaManno who was going to visit her mother.  She was Catholic.

Terri LaMano

Last week the Anti-Defamation League said it warned of the increased possibility of violent attacks against community centers in the coming weeks, "which coincide both with the Passover holiday and Hitler's birthday on April 20, a day around which in the United States has historically been marked by extremist acts of violence and terrorism."

Police in Overland Park say Miller is the founder and former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.  Both organizations operated as paramilitary groups in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

The Center, which has kept tabs on Cross/Miller for several years, says he spent time in federal prison for plotting to kill the founder of the center and for planning various robberies.

In 2010, Cross/Miller ran for the U.S. Senate for Missouri as a write in candidate. He released several hate filled commercials in Missouri that the Missouri Broadcasters Association found offensive.  The FCC sided with the Missouri Broadcasters Association and said broadcast media outlets did not have to run the ads.

After Cross/Miller was arrested on Sunday (04-13-14) he was shouting "Heil Hitler" in the back of a patrol car.  The FBI and other agencies are scouring Cross/Miller's compound near Aurora for additional evidence.

Federal authorities will not confirm if Cross/Miller was in the Witness Protection Program.  However, records suggest that he was given a new social security number and relocated after he spent time in prison and agreed to testify against associates in paramilitary and white supremacist movements.

The 1987 sentencing memorandum recommended that Miller enter witness protection, according to Chris Shields, a domestic terrorism researcher.

In Cross/Miller's 1999 autobiography, "A White Man Speaks Out," he wrote.  "I was to plead guilty to one count of felony possession of a hand grenade and answer all questions posed to me by authorities.  In return, they would recommend a 5-year prison sentence, immunity from any further prosecution by either state or federal authorities, and entrance in to the Federal Witness Protection Program which included the financial support of my family while I served my sentence." 

Cross/Miller was in fear for his life following his release in 1990.  In 1988 he testified at a sedition trial in Fort Smith, Arkansas in which 14 white supremacists were accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and an FBI agent.  All of the accused were acquitted.

After he was released from prison, Miller first moved to Iowa before relocating to Missouri.

Read more here:

Cross/Miller's son, Jesse Miller, was involved in a shootout with police that led to his death on March 28, 2008.  Jesse Miller was involved in an accident with Joseph Rich near Marionville.  When Rich stopped, Miller gunned him down.  Jesse Miller then shot Marionville police officer Andy Clark, who returned fire killing Miller.  Clark suffered a shoulder wound in the shootout.

President Obama addressed the situation saying, “While we do not know all of the details surrounding today’s shooting, the initial reports are heartbreaking.

If Miller is convicted of a hate crime, under federal law, prosecutors could pursue the death penalty. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Voters In Stone County Okay School Bond Issues:‏


Lincoln election judge Suzanne Hultz turns in ballots to Amy Standlee

Voters in Crane passed a $2 million no bond issue to build a new school gymnasium on Tuesday (04-08-14.) The vote was 356 for and 206 against.
Tena "Vaught" Reel held on to her Ward 1 alderman seat.  Jessica White did not seek reelection.  Ward 2 alderman Kyle Bentley ran unopposed.
Those elected to three open school board seats in Crane were  Robert "Tim" Thomas, William "Billy" Hayes, Bobby Lee Conrad. 
In Hurley, Steve Seaton ran unopposed for mayor and Savannah Young ran unopposed for Ward 2 alderman. Those winning school board seats in Hurley were Jamey Wilson, Katrina Flood and Tracie Ward-Blakely.  Voters in Hurley also approved a $1 million no bond increase "for the purpose of providing funds for the acquisition of school facilities currently leased by the District."
Galena remains without a mayor as no one filed for that seat.   David Stewart defeated John Coones for the Ward 1 seat--and John Arrington ran unopposed for one of the Ward 2 seats.  No one has expressed interest in the other Ward 2 seat. Mechelle Lebow, Rick Farley and Theron Caldwell will now represent Galena residents on the school board.
Longtime Reeds Spring mayor Paul Lear announced late last year that he would not seek another term. Kevin Hayward defeated former Reeds Spring police officer Chris Lackey for the mayoral position. William "Bill" Bott defeated Montez Jenkins for one of the Ward 1 seats.  Robert Scott Chamberlin Jr. is ran unopposed for the other.  Tim Supernor won one of the Ward 2 seats and  T. Gordon Weathers claimed the other.
Voters in Reeds Spring passed a sales tax of one half of one percent earmarked for "transportation purposes."  A no bond increase asking voters to approve $16 million dollars for the construction of a new middle school was overwhelmingly passed by voters.
In Branson West, Mike Brown defeated Joseph Ayres for the Ward 1 seat while Michael Stepehnson beat Don Eby for one of the Ward 2 seats.  Bill Merrit Sr. ran unopposed for the other. 
Bob Fritz had no competition for mayor in Kimberling City.  Lowell Mielk defeated Jason Sheilke for the Ward 1 seat.  Michele Stump handily defeated Ryan Breit for the Ward 2 seat.
In Blue Eye J. D. Settles won a trustee seat by one vote.
It was also a one vote race in the Village of McCord Bend where Cynthia Brunken defeated Melissa Turner.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Grease Fire Cause Of Afternoon Blaze Last Week In Kimberling City:


Southern Stone County firefighters were called to the Fisher Creek apartments in Kimberling City the afternoon of March 28th.

Spokesman Eric Nielsen says Kimberling City police chief Craig Alexander was the first person to arrive at the scene of the six unit complex.

Nielsen says that Anderson could hear a woman yelling for a dog in the unit that was on fire but he couldn't see her due to heavy black smoke.  Anderson entered the building, located the woman and whisked her to safety.

The dog was uninjured and the woman was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, according to Nielsen.
Crews were on the scene of the smoldering grease fire for about an hour and a half.

Ballot Set For Upcoming Primary Election:


There will only be two contested races in the upcoming primary election in August in Stone County.

Three candidates have filed for County Clerk.  They are Denise Dickens, Cindy Elmore and Matthew Carr.  Judy Berkstresser is not seeking re-election.

The other contested race is that of presiding commissioner.  Current presiding commissioner Dennis Wood is being challenged by David P. Stump, Jr.

Other incumbents seeking re-election are Collector of Revenue Vicki May, Treasurer Kristi Stephens, Circuit Clerk Debbie Scobee, Recorder of Deeds Amy Jo Larson, Prosecuting Attorney Matt Selby, Associate Circuit Judge 1 Alan Blankenship and Associate Circuit Judge 2 Mark Stephens.

Northern Road Commissioner James Gold and Southern Road Commissioner Stan Potter are also running unopposed.

Aviation Award Honoring Recently Deceased Branson West Mayor Established:


An aviation scholarship has been established in the name of longtime Branson West mayor John Rhodes who died recently.

The John Rhodes Aviation Award will provide wto people between the ages of 14 and 17 a one hour introductory flight lesson.  Rhodes, who was involved in aviation in his 20 year military career, was instrumental in establishing the Branson West Municipal Airport.

The scholarships, which are sponsored by Rhodes' wife Bridget and Don Rogers of Wells Aircraft, Inc. which manages the Branson West airport, will be presented after applications submitted to the award board are reviewed.

For more information contact the Branson West Airport at at 417-272-3921.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Woman Charged With Perjury In Connection To Porter Murders Commits Suicide:


The woman charged with lying to a Taney County grand jury about her involvement in the double homicide of Becky and Rusty Porter has committed suicide.

Perjury charges were filed against 59 year-old Carolyn Campbell on Tuesday, one day after Windy Friend was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for her part in the couples deaths.

Court documents say Carolyn Campbell lied about her knowledge about a stolen tractor that was found on property owned by her and husband of 35 years, Robert Campbell, who is facing two counts of first-degree murder for the Porters deaths.  

They also say she lied about contact with her nephew Phillip Friend, who has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for his part in the Porters murder for hire.

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell says Robert Campbell offered his brother-in-law, Tony Friend (Phillip's father,) $100,000 "for two birthdays."

Campbell, was released from the Taney County jail at at 2:30 p.m. yesterday (04-02-14.)  Barry County chief deputy Leonard Collins says Willard Taylor found his mother "unresponsive" in her Purdy home about 10:30 a.m.--"she left a suicide note," he said.  

Her body, which had no visible wounds according to Collins, has been sent to Southwest Missouri Forensics in Springfield for autopsy.

Tony Friend pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and is serving two life without parole sentences.  

Dusty Hicks, the Friends' cousin, will be tried for his part in the slaying in August.

Robert Campbell, Carolyn's husband, is scheduled to stand trial in October.

Windy Friend will be sentenced to two life without parole sentences on June 12th. 

Movement On Indian Ridge Property:


Judge Mark Stephens has cleared the way for parcel 34, a 25-acre plot of land in the old Indian Ridge development in southern Stone County, to be sold.
Jim Jones, who is one of many lien holders on that portion of the property, says his company Jimmy Jones Excavation, Incorporated has about $350,000 tied up in Parcel 34 and about $700,000 in total invested in the 800 acre property.
Court records show that Jones paid $170,000 for Parcel 34 and has put down $25,000 with the court.
Stephens granted a 120 day extension in mid January to get title issues resolved with property owners in Utah who are involved in the bankruptcy.
At this point Jones says he's not sure what will become of the property on which about a dozen unfinished dwellings stand.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Company is reviewing a potential sale on the remainder of the 800 acre property, which is listed for $2 million dollars..
The FDIC website shows Colliers International, a global real estate company headquartered in Seattle, as the contractor.
Dan Feldman, listed as the FDIC contractor contact for Colliers International, said he couldn't comment on the potential deal due to a confidentiality agreement.
In 2012 the FDIC purchased the property for $3.1 million.

Stone County Jury Awards $1.1 Million To Crash Victim:


Grant Rahmeyer

A jury in Stone County has awarded a woman $1.1 million dollars for injuries she suffered in a crash with a church van in 2006.

Attorneys for Donna Hay say their client suffered debilitating injuries when Diana Edwards slammed the van owned by First Baptist Church of Mountain Grove into the back of Hay's vehicle.   

“They were stopped in traffic at the turnoff for Dogwood Canyon when they were rear-ended by a church bus driven by Diana Edwards,” Grant Rahmeyer said. “Our client, Donna, suffered back injuries in the wreck. She ended up having a fusion surgery and is still dealing with the complications from the back injuries.”
The lawsuit alleged Edwards knew the vehicle had defective brakes and Edwards carelessly and negligently operated the 15-passenger van.
“The evidence was that she (Edwards) first noticed that the 15-passenger van’s brakes felt funny in Ozark.”
Defense attorneys claimed Hay suffered from a pre-existing back injury.
The plaintiff's attorney's dismissed First Baptist Church from any liability about half way through the week long trial.
Rahmeyer said the verdict is covered by the insurance policy the church took out on the van.
This is not the largest civil verdict in the county's history.  Last year a Stone County jury awarded over $3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit to the daughters of Gary McCullough.  McCullough went missing in the 1990's and his remains have still not been found.  That case was moved to Stone County on a change of venue from Barry County and defense attorneys are appealing the verdict and monetary award.
Rahmeyer says he also expects attorneys in this case to appeal the verdict.

North Stone Northeast Barry County Fire Protection District Board President Resigns Amid Controversy:


The board president of the North Stone Northeast Barry County Fire Protection District resigned at this month's board meeting.

The board approved last month's agenda even after board member John Elmore questioned why there was no mention of issues brought up at the previous meeting by this reporter of agenda's not being posted in fire district buildings and the bidding process for work on district owned vehicles.

Most of the district's work for vehicles owned by the district has been conducted by board member Robert Scott without a bid.  Law states that any individual or business that provides over $500 worth of services in a single incident or $5000 in a calender year is subject to the bidding process.

Missing titles for those vehicles is still an issue for the district.  Some have been found, others are still unaccounted for.

After hearing from treasurer Mike Kaup the board quickly went into closed session.  Before going into closed session the board failed to conduct a roll call vote, which is a violation of the Sunshine Law.

Almost two hours later the board opened the meeting back up for routine business.

When this reporter asked for a copy of the agenda, which was only posted in two of the district's buildings  instead of all fire district buildings which is required by law (another Sunshine Law violation,) board president Leon Cunningham raised his voice and began yelling that one had been sent to me.  

After Cunningham's tirade was over another request for the agenda was made and fire chief Doug Revis tossed one to myself and Crane Chronicle editor Jamie Tabor.

Board members passed discussion of diesel bids until next month.  Board members are also waiting for Judge Jack Goodman to sign an annexation agreement for part of Lawrence County.

Board members will also discuss a Chaney Grant at next month's board meeting.

Cunningham told board members that he had propane tanks for the district filled without board approval.

This reporter routinely tapes meetings I attend for review while writing stories.  Cunningham said that taping meetings was a violation of the district's bylaws even though Missouri is a one party state.  What that means is that if someone tapes something they don't have to inform the other party that they are taping. In this instance the recorder was in plain sight. 

One party taped recordings by law enforcement and other parties are routinely used in court.  John Elmore stated that district bylaws could not supersede state law.

Before the meeting ended, Cunningham tendered his resignation.  

"I have proudly served the district for almost 13 years now.  I believe it is time for me to look at bowing out. I have dealt with the press etc., for some 24 years with school business and never had any real conflict.  The scathing story that came out this last month convinced me that it was time for me to let the district find somebody else to satisfy the sensational reporting that apparently is wanting to be done."  

"Hopefully after April I will step aside and I just wanted to give you plenty of notice so you can search other avenues.  I wish nothing but the best for the district but I don't intend to put up with the garbage," Cunningham said.    

When asked why a Sunshine Request filed by this reporter last month asking for a complete list of district owned and possessed property has not been responded to, Cunningham stated that fire chief Doug Revis had the list and was supposed to provide it at a meeting that Revis told Cunnigham this reporter canceled. 

This reporter never canceled a meeting with Revis and he has not returned phone calls that have been left on his personal cell phone that the district pays for.  "He's [Revis] the one who knows and he's the one you have to get that from," said Cunningham.

As an addendum to the previous request one was made for a donor list of companies and individuals who have donated material/s and monetary donations to the district and the tax forms that were provided to those companies or individuals.  

"We've never received donations," said Cunningham.

When asked how the kitchen was built Cunningham said the district got material from "surplus property."  .  

Board member Jesse Smith said donations from Sonic, Monett Glass and Wal Mart were used in the construction of the building.

When pressed as to how the district is keeping track of donations Cunningham replied, "We don't."

Smith said a list should be in the district's inventory list, but no one knows where that list is.  

"We want to cooperate if we can and answer any legitimate questions there are don't we," said Smith.  

"I personally don't want involved in it that's the reason I'm stepping down," Cunningham responded.  "I've had all that I want."

Elmore then asked if any board member knew where "the magic boxes" that contained the requested documents were.  No one had any idea where any of the tax documents were held.

"In light of everything that has been done [recently] at this point it is more destructive to the district and the community than anything that could have been done," Cunningham said.

"I really felt good when you attended the meeting," said Cunningham.  "But when I saw the article and how you sensationalized the story I changed my mind totally about that."

Crane Chronicle editor Jamie Tabor responded that it was a pretty straightforward article.  "If it's all out in the open there's nothing to worry about.  There's laws and stuff you have to go by and if you're not then taxpayers need to know that.  You're using their money."

"I'm not going to take my time tell you what was wrong," Cunnigham responded.  

The next board meeting, which the public is invited to attend, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 17th. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

~UPDATED WITH PC STATEMENT~Carolyn Campbell Charged With Perjury In Connection To Porters Murders:


Carolyn Sue Campbell (mug shot BCSO)

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell  filed three felony counts of perjury against Carolyn Campbell this afternoon (04-01-14.)

Campbell is the wife of Robert Campbell, the man Merrell says ordered the April 2011 deaths of Rusty and Becky Porter.

This comes on the heels of the week long murder trial of Windy Friend , which concluded yesterday.  Friend was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder for her part in the double homicide.

It appears that the charges against Carolyn Sue Campbell, 59, of Purdy, stem from testimony to the grand jury .  All of the suspects in this case were called before the grand jury in October of 2012.  By December five people were indicted for their parts in the murder for hire that prosecutor Jeff Merrell says was put in motion by Robert Campbell, Carolyn's husband and Rusty Porter's uncle.

During the week long trial Phillip Friend testified that his father, Tony, had been contracted to do a "big job" for his sister, Carolyn, and her husband Robert Campbell.  Windy Friend admitted on the stand that she told people that the big job was going to take care of all of her family's financial problems. 

Phillip Friend also testified that his aunt Carolyn wanted them to take out Dusty Hicks, a co-defendant in the kidnap/murders of the Porters, because he began "talking" after the Porters disappeared.

This reporter asked Merrell last night why there had not been any charges filed against Carolyn Campbell based on the evidence he presented at Windy Friend's trial.  "The investigation in this case is ongoing and there could be additional people charged at some point," Merrell said.

When reached for comment this evening Merrell said a combination of factors went into the timing of charges against Carolyn Campbell.  "I really can't go into those right now," he said.

Campbell is being held in the Barry County jail on $100,000 bond pending extradition to Taney County. 

PC can be found here on in the link above.

UPDATE 04-02-14:

Carolyn Campbell was released after posting bond.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

~UPDATED~Windy Friend Murder Trial: State's Star Witness Says The Porters Kept Asking "Why":


Windy Friend

Smoking meth wasn't the only illegal activity going on in the basement of Windy and Tony Friends Forest Park apartment in April of 2011.

The state's star witness, Phillip Friend, told jurors at his stepmother Windy's first-degree murder trial that the planning to kill Rusty and Becky Porter began about two weeks before the couple was kidnapped in the middle of the night on April 17 - 18th from their home near Willard.

The Porters lived on a 120 acre family compound off of HH Highway.  Rusty's mother Kay Simmons and his uncle Robert Campbell also lived on the family property.

Windy and Tony Friend were in dire straits that spring.  Phillip Friend testified that he, his father Tony, and his cousin Dusty Hicks stole a lot of property, mostly four wheelers and heavy equipment.  Some of that stuff ended up at the property of Tony's brother-in-law Robert Campbell.

Phillip said he eventually agreed to help kidnap the Porters, who Tony said "were snitches." Tony told his son "they had to get rid of their [the Porters] family or they [Robert and Carolyn Campbell] will get rid of mine."

 "I told my father I wasn't comfortable with that kind of work.  I'm used to stealing four wheelers.....not a person," Friend told jurors.

In the months before the couple went missing Robert Campbell and Rusty Porter were involved in a bitter dispute.  It had gotten so bad the Porter's put up surveillance cameras on the outside of their home.  Each had filed orders of protection against each other---the cases were dropped when they agreed to stay away from each other.  

Robert Campbell

According to testimony, one of the reasons for the discord was the transfer of the family homestead that Kay made to Rusty. 

On April 16th another meeting was held in the basement of the Friends' apartment.  Present were Windy Friend, Tony Friend, Dusty Hicks, Phillip Friend, Robert Arnold and Autumn Huff, a 16 year-old runaway.

Basement of Windy and Tony Friends former aparment

Between smoking meth and cigarettes the plan to kidnap the Porters was put in motion. At some point in the 24 hour "meth bender" Phillip said he, his dad and Dusty Hicks all took showers" to wash any loose hairs" off their bodies the evening of April 17th "so we wouldn't leave behind any of our DNA." 

Tony told his son he was being paid to "take two birthdays."

On the way to the farmhouse the Porters had recently renovated there was a stop.  Dusty Hicks went into the Wal Mart at Kansas Expressway and I-44.  He came out with a bottle of bleach that would be used later. 

Porters home day they were reported missing (courtesy Springfield News Leader)

When Windy, Tony, Phillip and Dusty arrived at Robert Campbell's property that night Tony was driving. When Tony got out he took duct tape and wrapped it around the bottom of his pants legs and around the gloves he put on his hands. He tied a bandana around his face. 

Phillip put on a paintball mask and Dusty put on a bandana to conceal their identities.  Tony had a did Dusty.

Windy, 32, waited in the truck--Phillip and Dusty went through the woods one way to the farmhouse - Tony took another route.  When they all met up near a corner of the home where Rusty and Becky slept there was "an angried whispered discussion" between father and son when they discovered that all the doors and windows to the home were secured.  "We had to decide whether to cut bait or kick the door in and take them," Phillip said.

The kitchen window with the cut window screen that Dusty Hicks entered

Dusty Hicks had walked around the back of the house and discovered that the kitchen window was unlocked.  Tony lifted Dusty up to the window.  He cut the screen, slid the window open and slipped inside the dark house.

Hicks then opened the back door for Tony and Phillip.  The trio then made their to the sleeping couples bedroom.  They flipped on the light and "they started screaming," said Phillip.  "Tony told them to shut up or he would blow their brains out."

The terrified couple kept asking "why," Phillip told jurors.  "Dusty told them were just going to have a little talk."

Becky, who had on a t-shirt and zebra striped pajama bottoms, was ordered to get the couples ID's out of her purse and her cell phone.  She and Rusty, who only had on a pair of underwear and socks, were then handcuffed with zip ties and marched at gunpoint out of the house. 

Dusty went back in and stole a computer tower because Tony believed it was set up to video cameras on the roof of the house. He also splashed bleach throughout the house "to destroy DNA in case any came off us," said Phillip.

Tony called Windy.  She pulled the truck, with the lights off, to the front of the Porters house and Rusty and Becky were thrown in the back seat.

Tony drove- Phillip was in the middle of the front seat and Windy in the passenger seat.  Dusty was in the backseat holding a gun on Rusty and Becky.  Tony made everyone take their batteries out of their phones "so we couldn't be tracked."  Everyone took off their masks before they got to town, according to Phillip.

Tony dropped Windy off at I-44 and proceeded to Highway 65.  They then took Highway 60 to Sparta and made their way to Cedar Creek, an area where Tony Friend had spent time as a child.

Phillip said they backed into a wooded area and Tony parked.  Tony grabbed the Porters out of the backseat.  He held a gun on the them as he made them walk about two miles in the middle of the night to a dilapidated shed in the middle of nowhere.

Becky and Rusty Porter

Phillip said he put the battery back in his phone after he heard a gunshot.  He got a hold of his dad who said "he was just scaring them."  About ten minutes later he heard another gunshot.

Tony came back to the truck alone...."I knew in my gut he [Tony] was going to kill them."

When Merrell asked Phillip Friend why Becky was kidnapped he replied...."because she was there."

Phillip said the zip ties used to bind the Porters were thrown in a river on the way back to Springfield.  The computer and the ID's, which were supposed to be given to the Campbell's as proof that the job had been completed, were burned off a rural farm road.

Phillip Friend said his father began to panic about a day after the murders and said they would have to go back and bury the bodies.  

Dusty, Phillip and Tony rode two miles on stolen four wheelers to the shed that held Rusty and Becky's bodies.  They dug holes and Tony "dragged" the couples remains over to them. Chains were then placed on the corners of the rotting building and the four wheelers pulled in opposite directions.  They building collapsed on the Porters remains.

Area where Porters remains were discovered

"Tony said it was an old building and it wouldn't take much to bring it down....but it did," Phillip remembered.

It was several months before the Porters' skeletal remains were found near Protem and Cedar Creek.  When Phillip was questioned he told investigators that he didn't believe his father was involved but if he was their bodies would be in Cedar Creek.

Phillip said his father told him that his aunt, Carolyn Campbell, wanted Dusty taken care of.  "He said Dusty was a loose end and would talk and we would get caught."  Phillip said he told his father he wasn't having any part in taking his cousin out. 

A cousin of Tony's told investigator's about an area in Cedar Creek/Protem Road that Tony liked to play at as a child.  That is where Rusty and Becky's skeletal remains were found.

When Robert Campbell's property was searched shortly after Rusty and Becky went missing a stolen tractor was recovered, according to testimony.

Autumn Huff, the 16 year-old runaway who watched Tony and Windy's kids the night the Porters went missing, delivered Phillip Friend's son 8 months after the double homicide. 

In a taped interview that took place when she was arrested on a Grand Jury murder indictment Windy said she had no knowledge of any plan to kidnap or murder the Porters. She also said she wasn't involved in the clean up or transport of the couple.

"Never met 'em before in my life," she said.

She did admit that Tony told her he had "done a big job for Robert."  She said about a month after the Porters went missing Tony was mad---he hadn't been paid and they were losing their apartment. 

Windy said Robert wouldn't talk about anything on the phone so they went out to the Campbell's to talk.  Tony went in while she and their two children waited outside.  They were going to be moving to an RV that was owned by Campbell's son, Tim, Tony told her.

Windy told Greene County Sheriff's Detective Scott Britton that after she was questioned about her knowledge about the couples disappearance she asked her husband if he was involved.

According to Windy he said, "You're not going to like it and you won't love me as much."  When she asked him "did you do it?"  He responded,  "Yes, I had some part of it."

During the recorded statement Windy broke down when talking about her husband's colon cancer diagnosis and her children.

Dr. Keith Norton of Southwest Missouri Forensics and Dr. Harrell Gill-King of the University of North Texas said Becky was identified through DNA, dental records and her zebra striped pajama bottoms.  Rusty through DNA and surgical X-Rays.  The scientific experts couldn't pinpoint a cause of death other than "homicidal violence" as both were shot execution style in the back of the head.

Testimony resumed Monday (03-31-14) in Windy Friend's trial and her defense attorney called her to the stand.

The state took custody of Windy when she was little and placed her with her grandmother because both her parents were "drug addicts and alcoholics."

Windy told jurors that her sister was married to Tony before her.  Her sister, Samantha, was killed in a car accident and she and Tony were married several years after that.

She said Tony told her that he had colon cancer and she would drop him off at Mercy hospital for "radiation" treatment.  Windy found out through discovery in her murder case that Tony had lied to her.  

Before their marriage Tony had been run over by a vehicle and had 17 vertebrae "sheared off."  Hydrocodone no longer worked to control his pain and he was prescribed Morphine.  Windy told jurors that they would alter the pill and melt it down to a liquid form and she would shoot her husband up with the drug.

He was in constant agony and very sick in April of 2011, according to Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell.  Tony needed Windy to help complete the job, Merrell said.

Windy Friend said she had no knowledge that any plan to kidnap or murder the Porters was going on in her basement in the spring of 2011.  She also has no knowledge of anyone smoking or using meth in her basement.

She also said she has no part in the kidnapping or double homicide.

Merrell then asked her who called her son's school the morning after the Porters disappeared.  Windy's cell phone was pinging off of cell phone towers that surrounded crime scene 1 (the Porters home and crime scene 2 where their skeletal remains were found) the night and following morning following the Porters kidnappings. 

Windy told jurors that she did not keep her cell phone with her the night the Porters were kidnapped as she was in an upstairs bedroom of the apartment tending to her sick children and her phone was downstairs.  She said Autumn Huff, the 16 year-old runaway staying at her house, had access to her phone.

David Arnold told jurors that Windy started blowing up his phone about 3:30 a.m. on April 18th.  Merrell showed jurors a printout of Windy's phone bill and said cell phone pinging showed she was in the area of I-44 when she made those calls.  Exactly where Phillip Friend had earlier testified Tony had dropped her off.

Windy did admit that she told people that Tony "had done a big job for Robert Campbell that was gonna take care of all their problems."  She insisted that the job was stealing four wheelers and heavy equipment.

Windy told jurors that after the couple moved the RV that Tim Campbell gave the Friends Tony and her biological mother got in a fight and the police were called.  The RV was stolen and the Friends were charged with receiving stolen property. 

When Merrell asked her about not being able to read or write Windy said she "graduated with a fourth grade reading level."  She also admitted that she regulary corresponds with her husband, whom she said she "will always love." 

In his closing argument, defense attorney William Fleischaker told jurors they should question Phillip Friend's testimony against his stepmother.
"He’s here to make the best presentation he can make.  He knows that, if he does a good job, and if he tells the truth as he sees it, then he believes he believes he’ll get a better deal.  He’ll get the 15 (years) instead of the 20," said Fleischaker.
Merrell told jurors in his closing argument that Windy Friend had numerous opportunities to help herself.  "Despite Windy having every opportunity to tell detectives the truth, she chose to try to mislead them at every opportunity: four recorded statements and grand jury testimony and her testimony here this morning, all full of contradictions, discrepancies, lies.  Why would that be, ladies and gentlemen?  Well, I propose that is because Windy Friend is deeper than the detectives gave her credit for," 
Jurors got the case about 5 p.m.  --- four hours later they came back with two guilty verdicts.

Five people were indicted for the Porters' murders.  Phillip Friend pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree murder and two counts of felonious restraint.  He is serving seven years on the felonious restraint charges and will be sentenced to no more than twenty years in prison after he testifies in the remaining two trials.

Dusty Hicks, who is also charged with first-degree murder and felonious restraint, is scheduled to stand trial on August 14th.

Robert Campbell faces identical charges and is set to stand trial in October 16th.

When asked why Carolyn Campbell has not been charged in connection to this crime Merrell said, "the investigation in ongoing and there could be additional people charged at some point."

Tony Friend pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and felonious restraint last year.

At his plea hearing last December Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell said if the case were to proceed to trial, "The State would intend to present evidence that Robert Campbell hired and enlisted Tony Friend [who is Campbell's brother-in-law,] to kill Russell and Rebecca Porter."  Merrell told the court that a week-and-a-half before Rusty and Becky went missing Tony Friend, 46, was telling people that "he had a job to do, and the job was one hundred thousand dollars for two birthdays."

The only sentence available for Windy Friend, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 12th, is the same ones her husband was sentenced without parole. 

 We will find out then if those sentences will be ordered to be served consecutive or concurrent to one another.  

UPDATE: 04-01-12 @ 5:00 p.m.


BREAKING~DEVELOPING~Carolyn Campbell Charged With Perjury In Connection To Porters Murders:


Carolyn Sue Campbell (mug shot BCSO)

Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell has filed three felony counts of perjury against Carolyn Campbell this afternoon (04-01-14.)

Campbell is the wife of Robert Campbell, the man Merrell says ordered the April 2011 deaths of Rusty and Becky Porter.

This comes on the heels of the week long murder trial of Windy Friendwhich concluded yesterday.  Friend was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder for her part in the double homicide.

It appears that the charges against Carolyn Sue Campbell, 59, of Purdy, stems from testimony to the grand jury.  All of the suspects in this case were called before the grand jury in October of 2012.  By December five people had been arrested for their parts in the Porters deaths.

During the week long trial Phillip Friend testified that he had been contracted to do a "big job" for his sister, Carolyn, and her husband Robert Campbell.  Phillip Friend also testified that his aunt Carolyn wanted to take out Dusty Hicks, a co-defendant in the kidnap/murders of the Porters.

This reporter asked Merrell last night why there had not been any charges filed against Carolyn Campbell based on the evidence he presented at Windy Friend's trial.  "The investigation in ongoing and there could be additional people charged at some point," Merrell said.

When reached for comment this evening Merrell said a combination of factors went into the timing of charges against Carolyn Campbell.  "I really can't go into those right now," he said.

Campbell is being held in the Barry County jail on $100,000 bond pending extradition to Taney County.