KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Target 8 Target 8 en-us Copyright 2017, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 15 Dec 2017 HH:12:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ 144 25 TARGET 8: Downtown store owners concerned about trash buildup http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-downtown-store-owners-concerned-about-trash-buildup/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-downtown-store-owners-concerned-about-trash-buildup/ Target 8 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 9:56:07 PM Lydia Nusbaum, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Downtown store owners concerned about trash buildup

COLUMBIA - Iron Tiger Tattoo parlor in downtown Columbia mops its floors nearly three times a day. It didn’t use to be this way, but with the recent trash bins put near their store, they’ve had to clean more.

The reason why: people are tracking grease into the store.

Lee Sensintaffar is the manager of Iron Tiger Tattoo and said the store is constantly scrubbing the floors whenever they see grease.

“It’s kind of hard to keep up with,” Sensintaffar said.

This grease and food waste is leaking from the trash bins lined up against Iron Tiger Tattoo’s building when the garbage truck comes to pick up the trash. 

“A river of grease coming out of that alley way down tenth street into the stormwater drains,” Sensintaffar said. “You’re seeing grease. You’re seeing flies. You’re seeing vermin.”

Store owners in the area said this is happening because restaurants are just dumping grease and food waste into the trash bins without a trash bag. Melissa Frier is the manager of Aardvarx, which is right next to the alley.

“It is leaking out of the dumpsters and flowing out of the alley into the front of the alley and down the street and it's causing a lot of a mess,” Frier said.

A City of Columbia ordinance does not require people to put trash in bags. Currently the ordinance says trash should be wrapped in paper. This isn’t a method used by many people anymore. However, the ordinance does say grease should not be put in the trash bins. Instead, restaurants need to hire a private contractor to dispose of the liquid.

“I think the main concern as the manager of this shop is ‘are people going to walk by that?’ Frier said. “The smell of the sight is not great at all, and "are people going to want to walk by that to come into our business?" 

The owners said this problem started happening nearly two months ago. This is around the time when the city replaced a trash compactor with the six trash bins lined up against Iron Tiger Tattoo.

The compactor used to be on private property because it was too large to be put in the alley, which is public land. However, the property owner asked the city to take the compactor away. The compactor was leaking grease, which was then washed into the basement of a business when it rained.

The City of Columbia does not have a firm solution to fix the problem, but gave listed two possibilities. One solution could be to change the ordinance to make people use trash bags. The Downtown Community Improvement District said they would bring this up to the solid waste commission at a meeting Tuesday, December 19.

Another solution is to educate business owners about the proper way to dispose of trash and grease. The CID held a meeting a month ago to hear what business owners were thinking. Since then, the CID has sent out letters to help educate people on the correct way to get rid of trash.


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TARGET 8: Superfund site recommended in Camdenton after TCE contamination http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-superfund-site-recommended-in-camdenton-after-tce-contamination/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-superfund-site-recommended-in-camdenton-after-tce-contamination/ Target 8 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 6:30:40 PM Zara McDowell, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Superfund site recommended in Camdenton after TCE contamination

CAMDENTON -  The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recommended an old manufacturer in Camdenton as a Superfund site.

Money will be used to clean up the toxic waste at this manufacturer. DNR said it will continue to investigate the site to determine how contaminated it is.

At almost the southernmost point of the Lake of the Ozarks sits a town of nearly 4,000. Camdenton, Missouri is a small lake town known for its state park filled with castle ruins and one of the most scenic caves in the United States.  And, most concerning for residents, TCE, or Trichloroethylene contamination.

TCE can be found in soil, water and air. And it has. In Camdenton, Missouri, according to Missouri Department of Natural Resources. 

While state officials have said everything is safe, they have also opened up numerous investigations where the chemical was used. Residents are concerned and they believe loved ones are getting sick and dying from this contamination.

A few manufacturers in Camdenton used TCE FROM THE 70’S TO DECEMBER 1990 to get rid of grease from metal parts, without knowing the health effects. As a result, employees were in contact with it a lot.

Workers at these manufacturers dumped TCE, or sludge it’s also called, on the ground when they finishing using it.

And that’s not exclusive to Camdenton. TCE was commonly used before it’s health effects were known.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry said, “That contact -- and therefore that exposure -- can occur when you breathe, eat, or drink the contaminant, or when it touches your skin.”

However, the agency said, “Even if you're exposed to trichloroethylene, you might not be harmed. Whether you are harmed will depend on such factors as the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how you are exposed. Harm might also depend on whether you've been exposed to any other chemicals, as well as your age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.” 

TCE is a colorless liquid with a sweet smell.

There are four different properties in question for TCE contamination in Camdenton: 221 Sunset Drive, the Hulett Lagoon or Mulberry Well, Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2 Site and Camdenton Sludge Disposal Area Site. For continuity purposes we have referred to properties as DNR refers to them.

“Would I say people are in danger? Yes,” Jerry Rogers, former employee of all three companies said, “Most of the early years, we used it indiscriminately.”

“We had a tremendous amount of oil that we operated with inside the plant on our machine operations, and the cleaning agent we used was Trichloroethylene.” Rogers said. “We used Trichloroethylene to clean oil for anything … We washed our hands in it, we cleaned the equipment’s with it, if we had a spill, we mopped it up with TCE.”

“I don’t know why the city is not up in arms about it, as we the community are,” Rogers added.

Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hancock said, “From The city’s standpoint of water pollution and contamination, we are not worried whatsoever.”

DNR Superfund Chief Valerie Wilder said there is not any contamination in Camdenton's drinking water and there is nothing that residents should be concerned about currently. However, she said if she were a Camdenton resident, she would keep an eye on the upcoming investigations to see the results.

The wells were monitored for many years on a quarterly basis and since 2010, annually. “No TCE has been detected in those wells," Wilder said.

According to documents obtained from DNR, what Wilder said has not always been true. TCE was detected in the wells. The Mulberry Well was taken offline because it had traces of TCE. DNR documents state the Hulett Lagoon was decommissioned, or taken offline, in 1998. The city administrator says it was officially taken offline in 1999.

221 Sunset Drive

One property currently under investigation, according to DNR, is 221 Sunset Drive where three different companies operated at one facility from 1967 to 2012. Dawson Metal Product, Sundstrand Tubular Products Inc., and Modine Heat Transfer Inc.

Rogers lived through each company change and each TCE hand wash, “I went to work February of 1972 and finished employment the day it closed March 30, 2012,” Rogers said. “I was a supervisor for 34 years. Virtually everyone that worked there worked for me.”

According to an October report, DNR said, “Investigations conducted at the facility and in the surrounding neighborhood have documented TCE contamination.” 

In the past, there have been efforts to clean up the facility from any contamination.

DNR said investigations for potential sources of contamination are still continuing, with some further investigations planning to take place in early 2018.

DNR is also conducting an investigation within nearby residential areas. Currently, it is in the process of taking indoor air samples from 24 homes in the area. “Because temperature and other seasonal changes can impact the movement of TCE vapors, quarterly indoor air sampling was/is being conducted to ensure TCE concentrations are below certain levels in each season before the indoor air is determined to be protective of human health.”

According to DNR’s results from that investigation, 20 homes were completely tested (four homes still remain under investigation). Of those 20 homes, two required mitigation system installation because of TCE vapors at concerning levels.

Here’s what Modine said about it’s use of TCE, “"While Modine has not operated in Camdenton since 2012, we greatly value the relationships we established during our time in the community. Although Modine never used Trichloroethylene (TCE) at Camdenton after acquiring the facility in 1990, we are committed to helping the community achieve peace of mind. That is why we continue to cooperate fully with and support the work of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as it addresses TCE in Camdenton."

The investigation is ongoing.

Hulett Lagoon/Mulberry Well

The City of Camdenton operated the Hulett Lagoon from 1961 to 1989. According to DNR, during this span of time, this lagoon received wastewater with TCE from the Sunset Drive facility.

Hancock admitted the well ran again in February 1999, after it was taken offline.

He also said, “Because the levels were beginning to move up, the city built a brand new well and closed Mulberry Well.”

Not according to DNR documents.

DNR said, “In February 1998, TCE above the drinking-water standard was detected in the Mulberry Well, located about 600 feet southeast of the Sunset Drive facility and 1,000 feet south of the former Hulett Lagoon. Due to the TCE contamination, the city officially took the Mulberry Well offline in January 1999. The Mulberry Well is no longer connected to the city's water supply system and is not used for drinking water. 

“The city currently operates the well to remove TCE from the groundwater and contain the spread of contamination. The department regularly tests the public water system that provides drinking water to this area and has not detected TCE concentrations in excess of health standards,” DNR added.

DNR found TCE above the drinking-water standard in February 1998, but the city didn’t take the well offline until January 1999. 13 months. KOMU 8 News asked the city why it waited 13 months to stop using the Mulberry Well. 

DNR also found TCE in the soil and groundwater in and around the Hulett Lagoon in 1998 and 1999. However, DNR states the TCE that was in the soil at the time was limited to the area “within the footprint of the former lagoon.”

Once again, DNR said they plan to conduct further investigations. 

“The city will continue pumping the Mulberry Well to extract and treat groundwater in the area. Further investigations will be conducted to determine whether the contamination poses risks to human health or the environment and to identify long-term cleanup options,” DNR added. 

A 2003 investigation found TCE and DCE concentrations above detection limits, “in one soil boring at about 9 feet below ground surface.” It also identifies, “Laboratory analysis identified TCE and DCE in several monitoring wells above detection limits.”

However, that same investigation also states, “based upon the presence of impacted soils in very limited, isolated areas, the minimal potential exposure to humans…leaching into groundwater at levels above regulatory limits, the need for soil remedial activities does not appear to be warranted.”

So, nothing was done to fix the TCE in the soil, but DNR says, once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2 Site

Sunset Drive initially housed Dawson Metal Products, but there was a fire in 1972 that forced them to temporarily relocate to another building in Camdenton. DNR said this building was known as the Cox building; it is located at 1225 US Highway 54 in Camdenton.

In October 2017, DNR found TCE in 14 of the 23 soil samples it collected. It said surface exposure does not pose any risk to human health. DNR said it will conduct further sampling to understand the full extent of the contamination.

During the same time frame, DNR also investigated the air surrounding and inside the facility. TCE was not detected in the outdoor air. TCE was detected in several of the indoor air samples. Indoor air samples do not exceed, “health-based action levels.”

An Associated Press story that was printed during the time the Dawson Manufacturing Company owned the plant said: “A fire started at the Camdenton plant of the Dawson Manufacturing Company about midnight yesterday and several hundred persons were evacuated from the area because of the threat of poisonous gas from the fire. Authorities said the threat was caused by the burning of trichloroethylene at the plant, which produces air-conditioner parts.”

“In the summer of 72 is when we had the fire.” Rogers said. “I was working the night of the fire… after that night we spent a week cleaning up the Sunset Drive to the best of our ability.”

Rogers said employees cleaned using TCE without any protective gear.

At the new building, a former employee admitted to improperly disposing of the sludge waste and “just dumping it out the back door” when he worked there.

Rogers said after the fire, “We moved part of our operation over to, what’s being called by DNR site #2. Over at that facility we took care of the final clean and pack out of assemblies that we sent to Chrysler, but we had no degreaser to degrease the parts, so what we did was split a 55 gallon barrel in half and filled a half of a barrel with cold trichlor and that became out first rinse and final rinse.”

Rogers also said the barrels were dumped out the back door, “on a daily basis, shift-ly basis. We brought the chemicals in one door and dumped them out the back door.”

Rogers said. “We cleaned those (Chrysler) parts by hand and we also had no ventilation system in that facility.”

DNR said it, “conducted sampling during the first week of October 2017. The department sampled soil, indoor air, sub-slab vapor, springs and private drinking water wells to determine whether past disposal activities pose risks to human health or the environment. The department will update the public about this investigation once results are finalized.”

Once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Camdenton Sludge Disposal Area Site 

According to DNR, The City of Camdenton closed Hulett Lagoon in 1999 and the city said it got rid of the sludge at the Camdenton Memorial Airport. The city said it had permission to do this through a permitted land application. 

DNR stated, “The department conducted an investigation in 1999 and did not detect TCE in soil or sludge samples or in water samples from three private wells in the area.”

DNR said it received concerns from citizens about this site and the possibility of other sites as well where the sludge was dumped. DNR said it has not found any other sludge disposal sites from the Hulett Lagoon.

“As a measure of caution, the department sampled additional private drinking water wells within one-half mile of the sludge disposal area during the first week in October 2017. The department will update the public about this investigation once results are finalized,” DNR added.

Once again, the investigation is ongoing.

Health Concerns

According to DNR, “Long-term exposure to TCE can cause potential effects to the immune system and potential increased risk for certain cancers such as kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and liver.”

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry said short-term exposure to TCE can cause headaches, dizziness and sleepiness. Large amounts can cause coma and death.

The city administrator was unaware of the health effects from TCE. “But the city is concerned of the health and well-being of all our citizens of Camdenton,” Hancock said.

“Trichlor headaches were unreal, so we tried to keep as fresh air as we could,” Rogers said. “I’ve seen fellows rub it up and down their arms, and it will kill poison ivy, let me tell you.”

“Some people who breathe high levels of trichloroethylene may develop damage to some of the nerves in the face. Other effects seen in people exposed to high levels of trichloroethylene include evidence of nervous system effects related to hearing, seeing, and balance, changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat, liver damage, and evidence of kidney damage,” the agency said.

This hits home for one Camdenton resident. James Gohagan owns a home in Camdenton with his wife, Andrea, and their toddler son James. He says his wife was diagnosed with Lupus after moving to Camdenton.

Gohagan said after they moved to Camdenton, “she had a noticeable drop in energy, especially on rainy days. Those were once our favorite days to hang out and watch movies, but those days were hard for her to get out of bed, thought it might of been a postpartum deal after we had my son for the longest time, then when she started getting a rash on her forehead and got diagnosed with lupus, it was odd because there was no auto immune diseases on ether side of her family.”

After living in Camdenton for seven years, he started looking for answers. “I started digging around, and causes for lupus. My dad worked at Modine for 30 years and he had told stories about them dumping and burying that stuff (TCE) on the parking lot.”

Petition

More than 300 signatures are on an online petition waiting for the next step. People from all over the world are writing their stories or their loved ones’ stories, explaining how they believe TCE in Camdenton impacted their families.

“My Dad worked for Dawson. Sundstrand... Modine and passed away with Cancer!! I believe this company should have to pay for the lives they destroyed and the lives that are in danger!” - Sandy Shivers of St. Louis.

“Trichloroethylene began affecting our community years ago with many health issues that were shoved under the rug. My daughter got Aplastic Anemia from only drinking water in 1997-98 without being notified it was in our water.” – Rusha Johnson of Orlando.

“I believe there is so much more to this story. Why has taken 20 years to start taking care of this situation? The public needs to know what has happened.” – Joyce Thompson of Lake Ozark.

And there are 75 more comments with similar stories and concerns.

What Happens Now

DNR formed an advisory team, which it describes as a, “community-led team designed to provide a public forum to present and discuss the community’s needs and concerns related to the sites.” James Gohagan and Jerry Rogers were two of the seven selected members to join the team.

Now, it appears to be a waiting game for DNR’s investigation results.

Despite the continued number of investigations, Hancock said, “From the city’s water situation, there isn’t a concern and DNR says there isn’t a concern, period.”

Many residents, former employees and family members have lawyers assisting them with this case.

“I’ve been trying to reach out and get people in so that we can build a legitimate case, which I think we have, but you never know when is enough,” Rogers said. “In order to get our severance we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so I’ve been told non-disclosure agreements brought on by extortion are not really enforceable, but I think there are people afraid that if they say anything are going to get in trouble.”

As for Rogers, he still has a lot of questions and puzzle pieces to collect about how the contamination has spread and how it was cleaned.

“Was it done correctly? Are there locations that we don’t even know about? That’s part of the reason that we’ve put this committee together is so we can hunt people and make calls.” Rogers said. “It’s kind of like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle, everybody’s got a little piece and until you get enough people together, you can’t see how bad it really is.”

 


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TARGET 8: Hundreds wait in jail as public defenders struggle with caseloads http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-hundreds-wait-in-jail-as-public-defenders-struggle-with-caseloads/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-hundreds-wait-in-jail-as-public-defenders-struggle-with-caseloads/ Target 8 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 1:37:07 PM Sarah Trott, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Hundreds wait in jail as public defenders struggle with caseloads

JEFFERSON CITY - Many people accused of crimes are languishing in county jails as the Missouri State Public Defender System struggles to get through cases.

Missouri has 376 public defenders who take on more than 85,000 cases a year. They represent suspects who cannot afford a private attorney or to pay bond.

Justin Carver serves Cole, Miller and Moniteau counties. He’s been in the public defender's office for 15 years and said the system “has always been bad, it’s just degrees of bad.”

Carver has filed nearly 200 motions this year to decline or withdraw from the influx of cases to his staff of attorneys, but circuit judges have been denying his requests.

Missouri ranks 49th in funding for state public defenders, according to the ACLU. The system receives less than half of one percent of appropriations compared to all other state departments.

Despite working overtime and on the weekends, Carver said, “I literally need twice the number of lawyers I’ve got. I mean, I can’t make twice the number of hours in the day."

Just this year, his office had nearly 200 applicants for public defender services. At one time, Carver had 268 open cases assigned to him at once.

To ease the burden, private attorneys are required at times to take on public cases without compensation. Jefferson City lawyer Scott Evans is one of many lawyers in the area asked to take on cases for free. He said this system isn't a long-term fix.

"I don't see appointing private counsel as the solution because it's just shifting the liability from the public defender's office to the private bar," he said.

While Carver balances his time sifting through casework, responding to clients and preparing legal work, many of his clients remain in county jail.

“There are people stuck in jail right now without a lawyer. If I were their father, brother, mother, I would be furious because it’s horribly unfair. The state is supposed to provide a lawyer to these people and the state is completely falling down on its responsibility,” he said.

The ACLU is currently suing the Missouri State Public Defender System. Its lead plaintiff, who it claims had a "winnable case," spent 42 days in jail before meeting with his public defender. 

The American Bar Association requires “lawyers provide competent representation” and “control workload so each matter can be handled competently.” However, Carver’s requests to decline or withdraw from cases has added to the backlog of casework.

Both public and private attorneys are at risk of disciplinary action or having their bar license revoked for not providing enough attention to each case.

“The legal standard for competence means, not just the knowledge and skill, but also includes the preparation and right now, I don’t have any time to prepare my cases,” he said.

Carver also cited retention issues with employees who burn out in the public defender system.

Carver said the enormous backlog of work raises ethical questions because clients are not getting a fair and speedy trial.

"The speedy trial right exists on paper, it's not being enforced by the courts," he said.

A report from Rubin Brown, an independent consultant, shows public defenders in Missouri aren't giving enough time to ethically represent clients. In their 2014 study called The Missouri Project, it found defenders were spending less than half the time required on some cases.

Based on statistical averages, sex felony cases should take 63 hours of time to complete, but public defenders were dedicating only 25 hours of their time, the report found.

Another independent consultant, The Spangenberg Group, concluded "for close to a decade the MSPD has received no substantial increase in appropriations" and "each day in Missouri, the state places the lives of poor citizens into the hands of attorneys who are underpaid, overworked, and badly supervised."

This fall, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled public defenders hoping to ease their caseloads must get the permission of circuit judges in order to lessen the amount of assignments.

In 2013, legislation voided the Public Defender Commission's excessive caseload rule. The new procedure requires judicial approval for public defenders to turn away an excess of cases.


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TARGET 8: Nine counties without a hospital in mid-Missouri http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-nine-counties-without-a-hospital-in-mid-missouri/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-nine-counties-without-a-hospital-in-mid-missouri/ Target 8 Wed, 6 Dec 2017 1:25:26 AM Danielle Katz, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Nine counties without a hospital in mid-Missouri

MORGAN COUNTY - KOMU 8 News mapped out all of the hospitals and ambulance bases in mid-Missouri and found that nine counties in our viewing area do not have a hospital. KOMU 8 then mapped out driving directions using Google Maps and found numerous cities and towns that are at least 25 minutes away from the closest hospital. Even though ambulances can legally drive faster than the speed limit, on many of the roads in rural Missouri, that's not possible.

The following Google Map also lists information on how many beds are in each hospital and if the Department of Health Senior Services considers it as critical access, meaning it meets criteria for protection by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The nine counties without hospitals are:

  • Chariton County
  • Howard County
  • Miller County
  • Maries County
  • Moniteau County
  • Monroe County
  • Montgomery County
  • Morgan County
  • Osage County

These cities and towns KOMU 8 News mapped out are among those more than 25 minutes away from the nearest hospital:

  • Fayette- 27 minutes
  • Salisbury- 28 minutes
  • Paris- 30 minutes
  • Vienna- 30 minutes
  • Tipton- 31 minutes
  • Tuscumbia- 31 minutes
  • Belle- 32 minutes
  • Owensville- 34 minutes
  • Glasgow- 35 minutes
  • Stover- 36 minutes
  • Versailles- 44 minutes

In an emergency, minutes matter. The American Stroke Association said patients should get a CT scan within 25 minutes of initial symptoms. Lee Kempf, Mid-Mo Ambulance District administrator, said he knows this is not possible for his area, which covers two counties, Morgan and Moniteau.

“Anything that you can think of that, ‘Boy I think an ambulance should be there in 10 minutes,’ is just not going to happen when you’re that far away from people,” Kempf said.

He has worked in these counties for more than 20 years, so he understands that some people want to live away from the “rat race” of the cities.

“People have a tendency to like to be off the beaten path so that they have nothing but nature around them,” he said.

'There's no way we're going to get there in time'

But being so deep in nature can come with a consequence.

“If someone calls and says, ‘I don’t think my husband’s breathing.’ If they truly aren’t breathing, there’s no way we’re going to get there in time to do anything,” Kempf said.

Road conditions can make the distance worse, according to Kempf. Privately maintained roads, mud, snow and ice all pose a challenge.

“Those roads are sometimes virtually impassable,” he said. “You can have all the care in the world, and you don’t have the ability to get somewhere, it doesn’t matter.”

Ivy Bend, a town in Morgan County, can be up to an hour away from the closest hospital, Lake Regional Hospital. Kempf said his district answers multiple calls a week there, which can increase response times for other calls because of the total time it takes to answer.

“If we’re deep in Ivy Bend, the total time from the time we get the call until the time we get back in services is around two and a half hours,” Kempf said.

Jesse Jackson, who lives in Versailles, said he would most likely go to his local doctor if he was in a life-or-death emergency.

“If I was having a heart attack or a stroke or something, I would want to get somewhere quickly,” Jackson said.

He said he would ask his doctor to get a medical helicopter or whatever she needed to keep him alive because she lives 10 miles away from his house.

District concerned about future of its ambulance service

Kempf has two ambulances in Morgan County and two in Moniteau County. This number has not changed in his 20 years at the district, even though the number of calls has increased.

“When I first came here, we had four ambulances and we responded to a total of a thousand calls district-wide the first year I was here,” Kempf said. “We now respond to about 32, 33 hundred calls with the same number of ambulances.”

He said his district’s $3 million budget is tight because he operates with a $60,000 reserve and has to replace an ambulance each year. He is concerned about having to cut an ambulance in the future because of the cost of replacing one.

“If we don’t stay ahead of it, somehow, someway… that’s just something I don’t even want to think about,” he said.


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TARGET 8: Area without ambulances affects service in Audrain, Boone counties http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-area-without-ambulances-affects-service-in-audrain-boone-counties/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-area-without-ambulances-affects-service-in-audrain-boone-counties/ Target 8 Sat, 2 Dec 2017 10:08:12 PM Danielle Katz, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Area without ambulances affects service in Audrain, Boone counties

AUDRAIN COUNTY - Thousands of Audrain County residents to the west of the Mexico School District have been without a dedicated ambulance service for the past eight years. 

The affected area includes Thompson and parts of Centralia and Sturgeon. More than 2,000 registered voters live in the area and none of them pay taxes to the county’s tax-supported district.

Calls for an ambulance in the area will dispatch ambulances from both Audrain Ambulance District and Boone Hospital’s Centralia base, Medic 131. 

The bases said the calls pull services away and are unfair to the thousands of people who live in both districts, because the calls take two ambulances out of services for one household or patient.

“What it does is depletes our service for someone that doesn’t belong to anyone, so that’s bad for everybody,” said Kevin Cash, Audrain Ambulance District administrator.

The blue line on this map shows where Audrain Ambulance District’s coverage stops outside of Mexico School District. The space between this line and the green line, which goes along Routes E and FF, marks the area Audrain Ambulance District will respond to. Medic 131 goes on calls in areas to the left of the green line.

If Medic 131 is out on another call, Audrain’s district will handle it if it can. However, if one of the Audrain district’s two ambulances is already on a call, the other might not be able to respond.

“I can’t send it over there to those folks out of our district, because I’ve got 20,000 people here who may need it,” Cash said.

Boone Hospital EMS Administrator Marc Carr said the calls keep his Centralia ambulance from his primary coverage area in northern Boone County.

“It leaves them uncovered and waiting for a longer response time for an ambulance to come from Columbia,” Carr said.

Cash said the wait would matter most in a cardiac arrest, a situation that is hard to recover from without immediate help.

“It’s bad for someone to wait, and if you’ve ever had to wait on an ambulance at all, it seems like forever,” he said.

Carr said it can put a strain on his services if multiple calls are coming in from the uncovered area, but he will send an ambulance if one is available.

KOMU 8 went to Audrain County and spoke to people in the uncovered area. Some said they are concerned, but others said they are not because the Boone Hospital ambulance is close enough.

Cash said there are four ways for the uncovered area to get a dedicated ambulance service:

  • Joining Audrain Ambulance District, which would require a two-way vote between people inside and outside the district
  • Getting official coverage by Boone County
  • Building an ambulance service
  • Starting an ambulance district with volunteer service

Audrain County held a vote to annex this area in 2012, but it failed by nine no votes from outside the district. Cash said he wanted to get another vote on the April 2018 ballot, but no one has taken the initiative to get a petition started and gather signatures.

Getting treatment in this part of Audrain County will also come at a higher cost next year. People uncovered by an ambulance district will pay $400 more for each ambulance transport.


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TARGET 8 investigates why child sex abuse charges took two years http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-investigates-why-child-sex-abuse-charges-took-two-years/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-investigates-why-child-sex-abuse-charges-took-two-years/ Target 8 Wed, 29 Nov 2017 4:57:33 PM Chris Joseph, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 investigates why child sex abuse charges took two years

MOBERLY - Missouri law enforcement is impeded by a number of issues in cases involving child sexual abuse. 

Alleged pedophiles can continue to prey on children until the prosecuting attorney files charges and obtains an arrest warrant from the district judge. That can take years. 

Moberly Police arrested Carl Sheets this October on 16 counts involving the sexual abuse of a minor. They included:

  • Sodomy in the second degree
  • Statutory sodomy in the second degree
  • Three counts of incest
  • Statutory rape in the second degree 
  • Four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree
  • Rape of the first degree
  • Abuse of a child
  • Three counts of domestic assault in the second degree
  • Unlawful use of a weapon

Court documents show Moberly police became aware Sheets' behavior in Sept. 2015 when a hotline was called in response to an alleged sexual assault involving Sheets. Sheets allegedly forced the underage victim to perform oral sex.

A detective responded and attended a forensic interview at the Rainbow House in Columbia.

Court documents show Moberly police were again notified of alleged sexual assault in June 2016. The Moberly Police Department received a call in reference to "alleged sexual abuse, lack of supervision, severe untreated dental care and untreated illnesses."

The Rainbow House conducted another forensic interview. Among allegations, Sheets was accused of forcing a different victim to have sex as punishment.

A warrant for Sheets' arrest was not issued until October 17, 2017. He was arrested the same day.

How children are removed from homes

In fiscal year 2016, the Missouri Department of Social Services reported 1,250 substantiated cases of child sexual abuse. There were 1,328 substantiated cases in FY 2015 and 1,458 in FY 2014. 

Missouri police officers have the authority to arrest suspected pedophiles if they have reasonable suspicion. However, the individual would be freed if the charges are not filed by the prosecuting attorney.

The Moberly Police department arrested Sheets on August 1, 2016 for statutory rape of the second degree. No charges were filed and he was released. 

The Randolph County Sheriff''s department does not have arrest records for either report.

The county's records did show Moberly Police arrested Sheets in 2014 for assault. He pled guilty and paid a $350 fine. 

The Moberly Police Department declined to comment. 

Under Missouri law, the authority to remove a child from an abusive home rests with a juvenile court judge.

In the event of imminent danger, law enforcement, physicians and juvenile officers have the authority to place a child in protective custody.

It is unclear from court documents if/when the victims were removed from Sheets' custody following the reports.

Why does prosecution take so long?

Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman said several things can keep an attorney from pressing charges immediately. 

"All of our victims have different times when they are ready to go forward, I've had experiences where I prepared cases in my younger days and I didn't consider the children or the victims," he said. "I was a cowboy going forward, and I was all about getting the prosecution done. And I went along I started to learn about the impact that was having on those children and those families."

He said he tries to give families and victims time to seek counseling if needed. Fusselman said if the victim is not ready to testify, a case might fail in court. If that happened, the alleged perpetrator would be permanently cleared on those charges. 

"I have to have them able to testify, and I don't want them traumatized, and there's nothing about this that is easy for these families."

He said further delays can result from delayed disclosure of information. Younger children might not remember or understand the significance of certain events that took place.

"Children at a very young age are not very good at giving you an exact time frame because it's not on their radar," he said. 

Rainbow House declined to comment on its interview process.

Furthermore, Fusselman explained sexual abuse does not leave the same physical indicators as physical abuse does. Prosecuting attorneys must create a timeline of alleged sexual grooming behavior that led up to the alleged abuse. 

Fusselman said the timeline for every child abuse case is different, but building a sexual abuse case takes the longest. 

He declined to comment on the specifics of the Sheets case or the status of the victims.

State provides resources for victims of abuse

When child victims are removed from a home, the Children's Division Staff of Department of Social Services, in coordination with law enforcement, work to place children in a safe environment.

The children are then provided various resources by the state. One such resource is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. This volunteer helps the court plan the future of the child, helps the child navigate the legal process and helps the child transition into a new home.

Missouri CASA Executive Director Beth Dessen said the state has a good track record of placing abused children in homes of family members. 

"We always try to find relatives who are capable of taking them in and keep them safe," she said. "If that doesn't work then the children go into foster care."

Dessen said the volunteers continue to meet with the child and work on his or her behalf until the child is placed in a permanent home. 

There are six minors identified in Sheets' case. The preliminary hearing is being rescheduled. 

Both Dessen and Fusselman urge those who suspect any form of child abuse to call the abuse hotline at 1-800-392-3738 or 911 in the event of an emergency.


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TARGET 8: Allegations surface after Belle ex-officer is demoted http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-allegations-surface-after-belle-ex-officer-is-demoted/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-allegations-surface-after-belle-ex-officer-is-demoted/ Target 8 Mon, 13 Nov 2017 1:16:42 PM Shaletta Norwood, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Allegations surface after Belle ex-officer is demoted

BELLE - Abatement Officer Tony Baretich is under investigation for 13 complaints that were formally filed against him after he was terminated from the Belle Police Department.

Two months ago KOMU 8 News reported that Marshal Joe Turnbough pulled Baretich's commission after citizens complained about his work performance.

Turnbough said he terminated Baretich because he was devaluing a police officer’s leadership role and responsibilities.

“We are held to a higher standard with integrity, and as supervisors we must make sure our officers under us keep that,” Turnbough said. “Our integrity needs to be there.”

Baretich now serves as an abatement officer under the mayor and still receives pay from the Belle Police Department.

Mayor: 'The officer he got rid of was doing the majority of the issuing and tickets'

Mayor Steve Vogt said Turnbough legally didn't have the power to fire Baretich from the police department. Vogt said he kept Baretich as a city employee because he has to follow the city’s ordinances, and Baretich was the only officer who was doing his job.

“We can’t fire somebody just because,” Vogt said. “The officer he got rid of was doing the majority of the issuing and tickets and things, so he was holding his own weight.”

When Turnbough stripped away Baretich’s arrest powers, he then reached out to the Maries County Sheriff's Department to do an investigation.

The Maries County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) investigated 13 complaints that were divided into sections, which include: three allegations of insubordination, at least seven allegations of criminal actions and multiple allegations of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.

Out of all 13 complaints three sections had probable cause statements, recommending the prosecutor file criminal charges against Baretich. The first section that had a probable cause was section one.

SECTION ONE: Accusations of false reports and tampering with evidence

In section one Baretich was accused of falsely charging former Belle resident Eddie Boulden of destruction to a police car during his arrest outside a local Subway restaurant.

During the investigation Boulden told MCSD Detective Scott John that Baretich was frustrated with him for resisting arrest. Boulden said Baretich retaliated by charging him for a dent that was already on the patrol car before they ever had an encounter.

Boulden said Baretich told him, “See that dent... Ya, you just did that.”

Turnbough said he and his wife noticed the dent on the patrol car a month after Baretich arrested Boulden for it .

Turnbough said his wife asked Baretich where the dent came from and Baretich said he didn’t know, but he gets mad every time he sees it. Turnbough said he didn't think anything of it then, but he thought it was odd shortly after because Baretich charged Boulden with the dent. 

In Baretich’s narrative report Baretich wrote that he was sent out to Subway for a man trying to steal a car. Baretich wrote that when he arrived he identified the man as Boulden and began to approach him.

He wrote that Boulden was walking away from him and cussing. Baretich said he eventually gained control of Boulden and placed him in double locking handcuffs.

He wrote in the narrative that after handcuffing Boulden, he placed him by the rear passenger door of the patrol car to get statements from bystanders. He said while he was getting statements Boulden began to throw himself around.

Baretich wrote that after putting Boulden in the patrol car he noticed the dent in the rear passenger door where Boulden was standing.

A witness told detectives when Officer Baretich approached Boulden he placed him into handcuffs by the driver’s front fender. The witness said once handcuffed, Baretich escorted Boulden to the passenger side and secured him in the patrol car.

The witness said the incident only became physical when Baretich first made contact with Boulden. He said Baretich used minimal force when he put him into the patrol car because it was obvious that Boulden was intoxicated and wasn´t putting up a fight.

The MCSD located two witnesses who supported Bouldens claims. The investigation found that neither witness was connected to Boulden or Baretich.

In the investigation both witnesses said Baretich immediately arrested Boulden when he arrived at Subway. The investigation found that Baretich falsely accused Boulden and falsified his police report. 

SECTION EIGHT: Accusations of excessive force

In section eight Baretich was accused of using excessive force when he arrested Boulden for an incident at Boulden's house.

During the investigation, Boulden told detectives that he was angry about being falsely charged for the dent on the patrol car. He said he called dispatch to talk to Marshal Turnbough or another officer about the complaint.

Shortly after the call, Baretich showed up to Boulden’s house and said he was the officer on duty.

Boulden told detectives he didn’t want to talk to Baretich and began to tell him to leave. He said he was cursing at Baretich, and was under the influence.

Boulden said while telling Baretich to leave, he was walking toward his house and Baretich was following him. Boulden said his mother, Tamara Widener, began to explain to Baretich that her son would rather talk to Turnbough about the complaint.

Widener said she told Baretich to leave before the situation escalated.

“I don’t get why it exploded so fast,” Widener told KOMU 8 News. “All Tony had to do was leave.”

Mother of man arrested by Baretich: 'It just went too far'

While Widener was talking to Baretich, Boulden’s step dad told Boulden to come into the house.  Boulden told detectives he went into the house, but eventually went back outside and continued to tell the former officer to leave in a hostile manner.

After, both Baretich and Boulden threatened each other and exchanged words; Boulden said Baretich came toward Boulden with a taser and told him to back up. Boulden said he refused to back up and Baretich tased him.

After being tased, Boulden said Baretich punched him in the mouth, threw him onto the porch and landed on top of his back and kidney area.

Widener said she was traumatized when she watched her son get arrested by Baretich.

“I hated it, it was just not right,” Widener said. “It just went too far.”

She said since the incident she has attended some city council meetings, and while there, she said she was under the impression that the city council members hadn't reviewed the investigation.

“If the council has the authority to terminate I feel that they should be reading that investigative report to see what that officer has done,” she said.

The concerned mother said she asked the members if they had reviewed the investigation and only one city council member said they did.

“They haven’t even read it,” Widener said. “There was a comment made it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”

KOMU 8 News reached out to the city, which confirmed it had not looked at the investigation.

In Baretich’s narrative report he wrote that he was sent out to Boulden’s house. He wrote that when he arrived Boulden informed him that he wanted to talk to Marshal Turnbough.

Baretich wrote that Boulden was intoxicated and began to curse at him while he was walking up to his porch. He said Boulden resisted before, during and after being tasered.

He wrote that he eventually got Boulden in the police car and contacted Osage County Communications to request an ambulance and another officer.

When the MCSD investigated the incident the department reviewed two videos, six photos and analyzed the way Baretich used his taser on Boulden.

The videos and pictures supported Boulden's claims, and the department determined that Baretich tased Boulden unethically and unprofessionally.

The investigation found that Baretich used unnecessary and excessive force when arresting Boulden. 

SECTION ELEVEN: Accusations of assault, evidence tampering and corruption

In Section 11, Baretich was accused of behaving corruptly and using excessive force during the arrests of two people, Kyle Wehmeyer and Jana Birks.

Both Wehmeyer and Birks told Detective John they went to Woodlawn Apartments to attend a get together their mutual friend was hosting. Wehmeyer and Birks said Baretich walked by the window of the house and said he smelled weed.

They said the door was already open, and he came in. Once he was in the house a woman told detectives she asked Baretich why he came in uninvited.

Wehmeyer said he questioned Baretich's attendance as well, and Baretich asked to see Birks and his IDs. Birks said she was sober and went to get her ID out of her purse, while Wehmeyer said he was under the influence and told Baretich he didn’t have his ID on him and could go get it. Wehmeyer said Baretich told him not to and to place his hands behind his back.

Wehmeyer said he began to argue with Baretich. He said he told Baretich he didn’t have a right to be in the house, as he placed his hands behind his back. He said Baretich took him outside, told him he was under arrest for disorderly conduct and put him in the patrol car.

When Birks came outside to provide Baretich with her ID, she said she noticed Wehmeyer in the patrol car. She said she went up to the patrol car and asked Wehmeyer what happened.

Birks said Baretich told her to get away from the car or she would be going to jail too.  She said as she backed up and began to walk passed the abatement officer, Baretich said, “Nope, too late” and pushed her towards the car.

Birks said Baretich turned her around and slammed the cuffs on her, and it left a bruise on her arm. She said she yelled in pain and Baretich said he wasn’t hurting her.

Wehmeyer said Baretich took them to the Belle Police Department and told Wehmeyer if he gave him drug activity information, he would let him walk. Wehmeyer said he didn’t know anything, and Baretich asked a few more times. He said he continued to give Baretich the same answer until they began to head to the Maries County Jail.

On their way there, Birks and Wehmeyer said Baretich took the highway toward their town, Vichy, instead of toward the Maries County Jail. They said Baretich asked them what they knew about Marshal Turnbough. He said if they would tell him what they knew, they would be able to walk away free.

Wehmeyer said he told Baretich the only thing he knew is Marshall Turnbough didn’t like him. Birks and Wehmeyer told detectives that Baretich said the city council would protect him from Turnbough, and he planned to sue the Marshall and the city.

Birks and Wehmeyer said when they arrived at the Maries County Jail, Birks' seatbelt was unfastened. They said Baretich accused her of trying to escape. Wehmeyer said Baretich told Birks to provide information about drug activity or he would reach out to her probation officer. Birks said she didn’t have any information to share and Baretich escorted them into the jail.

In Baretich’s narrative report, Baretich said he received a call from Osage County Communications to call the apartment manager that night. He wrote that he met with the manager, and she told him there were two people who she did not want in her complex and she had asked them to leave several times. 

Baretich wrote that both Wehmeyer and Birks were under the influence, and he asked them to step outside. He said Wehmeyer began to argue with him, and they didn’t cooperate.

He wrote in the report that he arrested both Wehmeyer and Birks inside the house and took them outside for his safety. Baretich wrote that Wehmeyer continued to cuss and yell and he ordered him to stop cussing. He wrote that Birks slipped out of her handcuffs and he placed her back in.

Baretich wrote that he arrested Wehmeyer for disorderly conduct. The manager told detectives that she received information from another tenant that some visitors in the apartment complex could have drugs. 

After the investigation, MCSD found that evidence and other witnesses supporting Wehmeyer and Birks claims.

The investigation found that Baretich entered into a private residence uninvited, and there are photos of the bruises on Birks arms to support that Baretich used excessive force when he arrested her.

Where is the case now?

On Oct.17 the city council had a meeting with Marshall Turnbough. They ordered for him not to speak with the media.

Turnbough said he told the city council that Baretich has threatened to take his job, to sue the city and has made a hostile work environment for the police department.

He said the city council members excuse the abatement officer’s actions and he doesn’t think it’s fair.

“They said he can say what he wants because of his First Amendment rights,” Turnbough said. “But then they tell me to not talk to the media; that’s not fair.”

Vogt said he blames Marshall Turnbough for terminating Baretich. He said Turnbough didn’t follow the city’s ordinance.

“The council has to follow the policies and procedures and the ordinance, which states everything needs to be documented in writing, which hasn’t been done,” Vogt said. “We have received no documentations.”

Vogt said this is a personal conflict and Maries County Prosecutor Terry Schwartze declined to prosecute the investigation once it was completed.

“She said there wasn’t anything to prosecute,” Vogt said.

In her letter to Maries County Sheriff Department, Schwartze stated:

“I have reviewed the file, DVDs, photos and statements submitted by MCSD Detective Scott John regarding Belle Police Officer Tony Baretich. I have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the commission of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

City fears a lawsuit; police fear budget issues

Vogt said Baretich will continue to work under him and receive pay from the Belle Police Department until the city council receives the final decision made by Police Officer Standard and Training (POST).

“We’re basically waiting for results from POST to continue one way or the other,” Vogt said. “We can’t dismiss an employee without a just reason.”

The city council gives $205,604 to the Belle Police Department. Salaries and payroll make up to $128,306 of the budget. The police department has $77,298 left over after paying the officers.

Turnbough said he worries if that will be enough to cover all of the police department’s additional cost.

“There’s not enough money in the budget to pay this officer and replace him with another officer,” Turnbough said. “Financially it will put us in a bind for the fiscal year.”

He said the city council’s decision to keep Baretich as an abatement officer puts the public at risk because the police department doesn’t have full-time coverage.

“It takes officers off the street,” Turnbough said. “We have a business that’s open 24 hours; we desperately need that position filled.”

Vogt said he worries about the police department budget and Baretich suing the city of Belle.

"Bottom line, we’re trying to avoid spending city money on a lawsuit,” Vogt said. “It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

POST will have a hearing for the investigation on March 18 of next year.


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TARGET 8: Sex Trafficking data uncovered http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-sex-trafficking-data-uncovered/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-sex-trafficking-data-uncovered/ Target 8 Sun, 12 Nov 2017 7:36:25 PM Daytona Everett, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Sex Trafficking data uncovered

COLUMBIA-  There's a "new intensity" to human trafficking, Attorney General Josh Hawley says.

“We're seeing more and more people get into trafficking, we're seeing the trafficking networks grow,” he said.

This year, the National Trafficking Hotline has reported 74 confirmed cases of sex trafficking in the state of Missouri.

One sex trafficking survivor said, “At least in the moment of when it’s happening, someone’s on top of you and then they’re done, but it’s after they leave you, and you have to wash off your body and you have to take this money to this man who’s going to still abuse you and tell you what scum you are. It’s so much worse.”

“Jasmine” was 16 when she met her trafficker at Douglass Park in Columbia.

"I was homeless and I needed somewhere to go. He said if I helped him out with his kids and with his wife that I could stay there."

That split-second decision made her life a living hell for the months following. Jasmine’s trafficker sold her to numerous “Johns” across town.

"You, for the rest of your life, have to live with the fact that you were raped by hundreds of people."

Captive by drugs and unaware of her location, Jasmine was too fearful to fight back or make an effort to come forward to law enforcement.

"I literally at one point when I got away was, like, 'If I stay here, I'm gonna die.'" 

Jasmine was finally freed when her trafficker was prosecuted. Years later, she shares her story. In doing so, she was quick to highlight how big of an epidemic sex trafficking currently is in mid-Missouri.

"Oh my gosh, it is what is the moneymaker of the town," she said.

Sex trafficking data is scarce in Columbia and Boone County.

Since 2013, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported these numbers:

  • 414 cases of human trafficking in Missouri

  • 307 of those being for sex trafficking in Missouri

The National Human Trafficking Hotline works hand-in-hand with individual states and their local law enforcement. Hotline officials couldn't release details on the origin of the calls but did say when a case is called in, the information is relayed right away.

KOMU 8 News set out to find how many cases were successfully prosecuted in mid-Missouri in that same time frame of 2013 to present.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol gathers reported data from the Columbia Police Department and the Boone County Sheriff’s office. The numbers only dated back to 2013. Here’s what they sent:

  • One human trafficking-commercial sex act reported in 2014 from the Boone County Sheriff’s office

  • Zero reported arrests for human trafficking from 2013 to present day from Boone County or Columbia

If cases are constantly called into the hotline and, as Jasmine said, the market for sex is substantial, why don’t the reported numbers reflect that?

“I think it is underreported, almost certainly, the data all suggests that," Hawley said.

Hawley started the Human Trafficking Task force along with several other initiatives in April 2017.

“Ninety-eight percent of sex trafficking victims are women, particularly young women. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 13 or 14 years of age,” he said. “These are predators who are going after our most vulnerable young women.”

There are limitations to put these predators behind bars though, he said.

"I suspect it's more just a matter of knowing what to report,” Hawley said.

He suspects cases in the past were possibly reported as prostitution or domestic offenses.

"I think the awareness of this crime and its breadth and its true nature, I think is something that people are just coming to grips with," he said.

The epidemic is also a global issue that trickles into Missouri territory through businesses, Hawley said.

“They almost always span city lines and state lines and so it’s difficult sometimes to gather the evidence. It’s also difficult to get victims to come forward.”

One of the most successful anti-trafficking raids was in southwest Missouri. Hawley said it brought 16 different cases against defendants and shut down 13 businesses.

“We found that girls were brought here, to the state of Missouri, from California, and before that, from East Asia," he said. "We actually uncovered an organized East Asia crime ring that was involved in setting up trafficking locations here in the state of Missouri.”

Despite its success, the mission took years of preparation and endless resources, Hawley said.

“It is so difficult for local law enforcement often to do this on their own, they need help, they need reinforcements, ” he said.

Victim's reluctance produces a lack of evidence for law enforcement to prosecute the traffickers. It’s a vicious cycle, according to Hawley, fueled by the existence of online sites like Backpage.com.

“Honestly, that’s where it happens,” Jasmine said. "When all you need is a picture and five dollars, that’s all you need to sell someone’s child.”

Hawley has an ongoing investigation on the site.

"Backpage is now suing me in an attempt to stop my prosecution and investigation," he said. "It’s not going to work and we continue to push forward.

Hawley is also calling on people to be a force to stop trafficking in their own communities.

“We are developing a training curriculum for people, everyday folks, who are not law enforcement folks but who want to learn 'What does trafficking look like? How do I report trafficking?,'” Hawley said. “We’re going to make that available for free online.”

Businesses across the state are pledging to show this to their employees so they can recognize trafficking and combat it.

"Just be aware of the signs,” Jasmine said. “The woman walking down the street with her backpack, even if you don't want to give her a ride to shelter, even if you don't want to give her some money, give her a number of somewhere safe she can go."

She highly recommends the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition.

"One person could've changed my entire future," Jasmine said.

Other resources:

Shared Hope International

National Human Trafficking Hotline  1-888-373-7888.

The International Justice Mission


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TARGET 8: Former convenience store employee complains of cockroaches http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-former-convenience-store-employee-complains-of-cockroaches/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-former-convenience-store-employee-complains-of-cockroaches/ Target 8 Thu, 9 Nov 2017 6:11:33 PM Zara McDowell, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Former convenience store employee complains of cockroaches

COLUMBIA - Casey's General Store on Clark Lane is receiving criticism on Facebook after a former employee's post went viral.

Keri Lawson, a former Casey's General Store employee, said in her Facebook post: "I worked here for MAYBE 2 months... On the third week, I started complaining about the **COCKROACHES** and various work conditions."

KOMU 8 News investigated that complaint, obtaining inspection records from the county. 

The health inspections from the Boone County Health Department showed that Casey's on Clark Lane received two complaints about the store in the past week. One on November 3 and another on November 8. The health department sent a health inspector each time it received a complaint.

Kala Wekenborg-Tomka, the Boone County Health Department's Environmental Public Health Supervisor, said it treats every complaint the same as a routine inspection and said, "We respond to every complaint we receive." 

On November 3, a health inspector found one critical violation and two non-critical violations during an inspection. The health inspection stated: "Food debris and dead pests in hand sink near fryer, food debris on floor and in floor of WIC [walk-in cooler], an attractant of pests, and dead pests on ceiling, floor, and hand sink near fryer."

"They would crawl at my feet while I'm working, so I was constantly watching where I was touching," Lawson told KOMU 8 News during an interview.

Prior to Friday's inspection, the last inspection was on February 8, 2017. Since January 15, 2015, Casey's on Clark Lane has received seven critical violations and 10 non-critical violations. 

On October 5, 2015 Casey's had a critical violation for "Unapproved pest spray in kitchen."

KOMU 8 News called Casey's General Store. An employee and manager said, "no comment."

Wekenborg-Tomka said the store or restaurant does not know ahead of time when the health department is coming for a routine inspection.

"We've received complaints about any type of food establishment. I wouldn't say it's unique to Casey's, and we respond to them all the same," Wekenborg-Tomka said.

Lawson said the cockroaches got progressively worse as she was working. "There's a cooler lid where your pizza condiments are, and there's a little opening and one came up right out from there."

Lawson said she was asked to put Borax in the cooler vents and bug spray on the baseboards. Lawson showed KOMU 8 a note she said a manager gave her: "Keri, When  you close the kitchen tonight underneath the white cabinet is some bug spray, will you spray behind everything and open that vent on the prep table and put Borax in there. Ask the clean to close person to spray underneath the cabinets, not while customer are here though... Thank you XXXXX I appreciate you."

"We are here to be great educators as regulators. So if you see something, you're part of our eyes and ears of our community and we encourage you to report that to us," Wekenborg-Tomka said.

Wekenborg-Tomka said it takes "8 critical violations, 16 non-critical violations, or a combination of 20 violations" during one visit to close a store like Casey's.

"Our goal is not to close food establishments, it's to ensure that they understand why something is a violation and get them into compliance. So our last resort is closure, if education does not work," Wekenborg-Tomka said.

"They're definitely not a pet you want to keep around. It makes my skin crawl, and I couldn't do it anymore, I couldn't work there anymore," Lawson said.

Lawson said she was hired at Casey's at September 6 and trained at the store on El Chapparel, "that one is very clean."

KOMU 8 News pulled inspection reports from all Casey's stores in Boone County. All had violations, but those on Clark Lane were the most disturbing. Other stores had reports of "Employee eating trail-mix in kitchen, food stored on floor in walk in freezer, AND pizza boxes directly sitting on floor.

Lawson said managers kept telling her it wouldn't be like this after the re-model in January.

"I do hope that they address it, and I hope that their re-model fixes it. But I don't think it's just a sweep under the rug," Lawson said.


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TARGET 8: High school drug investigation shows greater drug abuse by teens http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-high-school-drug-investigation-shows-greater-drug-abuse-by-teens/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-high-school-drug-investigation-shows-greater-drug-abuse-by-teens/ Target 8 Mon, 6 Nov 2017 11:19:24 AM Carolina Brigagao, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: High school drug investigation shows greater drug abuse by teens

ASHLAND  - Drug use at Southern Boone High School has prompted two separate investigations - one by the Ashland Police Department and the other by the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

In September, KOMU covered a tip from a concern parent saying the Southern Boone School District sent a letter to parents and faculty informing them a high school employee was under investigation on misconduct regarding illegal drugs.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department started investigating the case in May. And despite rumors running between students, faculty and parents, the district waited three months to formaly tell parents.

Around the same time, the Ashland Police Deparment was looking into a drug sales operation at the school, according to documents obtained by the Target 8 team.

The police report said five teenagers, with ties to the high school, were connected to suppling and dealing Xanax, methampehtamine or marijuana to other students. The report also the deals were done off school grounds.

One of the teenagers mentioned in that report was also named in another police report which said he sold marijuana to a 14-year-old student. He was charged with felony driving while intoxicated and possession of Xanax and marijuana.

Ashland's police chief says drugs in high school is "similar to a squeegee."

“Where you wipe the window and there is a dry spot and then the water from elsewhere just kinda trickles in. So, the problem resumes,” Lyn Woolford said.

He said law enforcement is well aware of the issue.

"We know that there is illegal abuse of drugs, and we know there are illegal substances that are circulating through the town," Woolford said.

Data from the Missouri Department of Mental Health shows Missouri students, grade six to 12, have used prescription drug not prescribed to them. All the grades, expect for 10th grade, showed the highest percentage of prescription drug use since data was first collected in 2010. 

Woolford says this age range is when young adults have the greatest exposure, or maybe even first exposure, to different types of drugs, and many different reasons for use. 

"It’s associated with growing up, and the freedom, and the maturity and the choices that all come with becoming an adult."

Thomas O'Sullivan, a Boone County Sheriff's detective said he has seen prescription drug abuse grow during his 30 years in law enforcement.

"We are seeing many more individuals who are abusing drugs," O'Sullivan said. "And just seeing a lot more than we did fifteen, twenty, years ago."  

O'Sullivan said people are able to easily access prescription medications from a family member or friend or by stealing. 

"Well, unfortunately is very easy," O'Sullivan said. "There are so many more people who are being prescribed opioids, depressants, stimulants."

Other Department of Mental Health data showed Boone County is less then 1 percent shy of being labeled a "very easy" county to acquire prescription drugs like Cole and Moniteau County.  (See map below.)

After being presented with the numbers, Southern Boone School District Superintendent Christopher Felmlee said the numbers sound right.

"I think it's not only a Boone County issue, its a state and national issue. Just looking at opioids alone is a huge concern," Felmlee said. "Every district is dealing with that and how to protect the learning environment."

Woolford said the problem isn't exclusive to Ashland or Boone County, or confined to just young people.

"I mean, it’s everywhere," he said.

And the Sheriff's Department has seen the same pattern.

"Yes, it’s the whole gamut: young, old, rich, poor, male, female, urban, rural. So, we've seen an uptick in all the demographics," O'Sullivan said.

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Southern Boone High School implemented two new policies: Students are not allowed to go to their cars during, or between, class hours, and students must use see-through plastic water bottles within school grounds.

In addition, Felmlee said, the district has looked for outside help to understand what it can do to help students and how to minimize future issues.

The high school has reached out to the Boone County School Mental Health Coalition, the Youth Community Coalition and Ashland Helping Youth.

"Sometimes asking for help is one of the hardest thing to do," Felmlee said. "But that is what we did. As a school district we asked for help."

Felmlee said the issue is not only drugs, but helping students make positive choices in life.


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TARGET 8: Day care closes amid lawsuits http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-day-care-closes-amid-lawsuits/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-day-care-closes-amid-lawsuits/ Target 8 Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:08:31 AM Karla Valcourt, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Day care closes amid lawsuits

COLUMBIA - A day care with a history of violating state regulations has closed its doors. 

The facility, Lots of Love Preschool and Childcare Center, first opened its doors in 2015.

KOMU 8 News reported on the center in July after former employee, Shauna Kunzee, said her boss had not paid her and other employees in months.

Kunzee as well as several other former employees said children were not getting fed properly.

In July, the Department of Health and Senior Services placed the center on probation after two babies escaped the facility's fenced playground. 

Despite its history of offenses, Kunzee said she doesn't think the state had anything to do with the center's closure. 

"She probably ran out of money," Kunzee said. "The word got around about Lots of Love."

According to court documents, several of the former employees filed in small claims court to receive payment from the owner, Kimberly Jones.

One employee filed for $752, another for $1,385, and another for $1,430. Since the owner did not appear in court after being summoned, the three employees won their cases in a default judgement. 

At least one of the former employees has received payment. 

Kunzee said her boss still owes her $1,200 for her work at the center. She said she plans to take Jones to small claims court soon. 

"I haven't been able to come up with the money to take her to court," Kunzee said.

Kunzee said though the center is closed, she is still recovering from its effects. 

"I'm just trying to get caught up on all my bills," Kunzee said. "My family is getting back in our routine."

KOMU 8 News found another lawsuit that involved the child care center. 

In August, a parent said a minor at the center sexually abused her 6-year-old daughter who has mental disability. The mother sued the center and Jones for negligent supervision and negligent hiring.

According to case documents, the minor "forcefully used his finger to penetrate plaintiff's vagina and rectum."

On October 10, the family won the case in a default judgement after Jones "failed to file a timely answer or defend the lawsuit." The document stated damages would be accounted for later.

After the issues brought up in the last year at the center, KOMU 8 News spoke to a parent who said she is thankful she removed her daughter from Lots of Love. 

“It’s very sad to hear this happened at a day care here in town where you think these kids were safe," Samantha Cole said.

However, Kunzee said she wishes the state would have done more sooner. 

"It shouldn't have taken that long, there are children's lives at stake," Kunzee said.

Now, many are dealing with the aftermath of the day care's closing.

"I can say, 'Oh I’m happy that they’re closed,' but now several people are without income, several children are displaced," Cole said.

KOMU 8 News tried to reach out to the owner of the day preschool, but she refused to cooperate. Target 8 will follow up with the state for the latest on the complaints against the center.

 


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TARGET 8 fact checks Democrats' campaign claims against AG Hawley http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-checks-democrats-campaign-claims-against-ag-hawley/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-checks-democrats-campaign-claims-against-ag-hawley/ Target 8 Mon, 23 Oct 2017 9:06:25 PM Alexis Reese, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 fact checks Democrats' campaign claims against AG Hawley

JEFFERSON CITY – Democrats are ready to fight as a new U.S. Senator contender looks to take Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s spot.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley released a video announcing his run for U.S. Senate on October 9.

In the video, Hawley highlighted “the D.C. career crowd” and stated that McCaskill “turned her back on farmers” and that she “doesn’t represent us.”

The Missouri Democratic Party released a statement a day later saying: “Two months ago, Josh Hawley filed paperwork to run for United States Senate — and then lied to Missourians about it while he raised money behind closed doors with millionaires, DC special interests, and Republican leaders in Washington. It’s clear who Josh Hawley is running to represent in the United States Senate, and it’s not Missouri.”

Target 8 investigated the claim by looking at where Hawley's newly-raised campaign funding is coming from.

Donations reported to Missouri Ethics Commission nearly even from in-state and out-of-state funders; federally-reported fundraising largely from in-state donors

When calculating all quarterly reports submitted to the Missouri Ethics Commission for Missourians for Hawley, from January to October 2017, Hawley gained more than $630,000 in contributions from in-state donors and more than $530,000 from out-of-state donors. 

When looking at the quarterly report Hawley’s Senate exploratory campaign team submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Hawley raised more than $800,000. More than $600,000 came from Missouri contributors and $200,000 came from out-of-state contributors. Some of these donations came from big Missouri names such as David Humphreys and members of the Orscheln family. 

University of Missouri political science professor Marvin Overby said though it is often portrayed negatively in campaigns, gaining just as many out-of-state contributions as in-state contributions is not necessarily problematic.

“It’s not clear to me that there is anything bad about money coming in from out of state,” he said. “Although it is often phrased that way. There’s sort of the insinuation that there’s something untoward about it or something sort of, not quite above board about it.”

Hawley donors in 2017 include Microsoft and Tamko

In Hawley’s January report, he received contributions from big names like the Microsoft Corporation PAC, Home Depot Store Support LLC and Tamko Building Products just one month after winning the attorney general position. In the recently released October quarterly report, Hawley received money from a tobacco company called Cheyenne International, LLC.

Overby said companies and political action committees usually give money to candidates who have the same values. He said sometimes the public could misconstrue these contributions.

“The general public has this sense that politicians can be bought,” Overby said. “That their positions are up for sale. And that, I think, is not true.”

KOMU 8 News reached out to Hawley, and his spokesman Scott Paradise sent us a statement saying: “The Missouri Democrat Party is just flailing. First they tried to attack Josh Hawley for living with his family and now they are making up another story. We’ve filed all paperwork in accordance with FEC requirements. We issued a press release the day we filed the paperwork and all of it is available online. The Democrats are just desperate and I suppose it’s because they can’t find anything good to say about Claire McCaskill.”

The spokesperson who wrote the initial statement for the Democratic party did not return requests for comment or clarification.


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TARGET 8: Father charged nearly $200 to collect child support he's owed http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-father-charged-nearly-200-to-collect-child-support-he-s-owed-90494/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-father-charged-nearly-200-to-collect-child-support-he-s-owed-90494/ Target 8 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 8:13:45 PM Kyrah Davis, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Father charged nearly $200 to collect child support he's owed

STURGEON - Imagine raising a child with no help but a few sporadic child support payments, only to be charged just to get the money you're owed. That’s what happened to Sturgeon resident Elba Roark, and he said it’s a slap in the face. 

“I could understand if it was a small fee, $25, $50. I could understand that,” he said. “But $160 is a little excessive.” 

Roark is a father of 7. In 2009, he went to court for custody of his son, after which the non-custodial parent was ordered to pay a monthly child support payment of $232 per month. According to Roark's records, the mother's payments have been anything but consistent. And sometimes, like when she went to prison, the payments were simply nonexistent. 

She was released from prison in August 2016 and moved to Arkansas almost immediately after. Roark didn’t receive another payment until March 1, 2017, and it was only $50. 

According to Missouri law, non-custodial parents are still expected to pay child support even while imprisoned. Family Support Division Deputy Director of Child Support John Ginwright said the agency will pursue payments, even during incarceration. 

“If the person obligated to pay support goes to prison, the support order still continues," he said. “We will continue to pursue avenues to collect the support if there are any assets known. If there are still bank accounts or anything that we can collect it off of, we will continue to collect the support.”

But Roark never received anything while his son's mother was imprisoned. In total, court records show she owes $20,871.32 on one order and $711.78 on another. According to Missouri law, if a parent fails to pay for 6 months within a 12-month period or goes $5000 in debt to the custodial parent, it’s considered a criminal offense. According to Roark's documentation, she has violated both measures. 

In August of this year, the state of Arkansas sent Roark a billing statement for $160 to enforce his court order. When Roark inquired about the hefty bill, he said the Missouri department told him it had sent a notification in November 2016 warning him that Arkansas might charge a fee.

Roark said he did not hear anything until after he contacted Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. Shortly after, on September 12, he received what looked to be a copy of the previous notification with the November date marked. 

“I’ve never received anything up until, of course, they sent me this copy.” 

If he did receive something earlier, Roark said he would have said something. Ginwright said there are only two fees Missouri assesses, and they’re minimal. 

“One is a $10 fee if you don’t have your child support case open with the state agency,” he said. “The other fee is a $25 fee that is federally mandated, and that is assessed against the non-custodial parent." 

He said that only goes into effect if there’s more than $500 collected that fiscal year and the parties involved in the case have not filed for public assistance. 

“There are no fees assessed to the custodial parent if the case is opened with the state of Missouri,” Ginwright said.  

Ginwright said enforcing child support is generally the same as if they were living in Missouri. But as far as waiving fees from outside states, Missouri doesn't have that authority. 


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TARGET 8: City admits errors in handling of Sixth Street construction http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-city-admits-errors-in-handling-of-sixth-street-construction/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-city-admits-errors-in-handling-of-sixth-street-construction/ Target 8 Tue, 10 Oct 2017 4:56:49 PM Adam Duxter, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: City admits errors in handling of Sixth Street construction

COLUMBIA - When Brian Coley showed up for work on August 21, he was met at the door not by customers, but contractors. 

Coley, a Columbia native, MU grad, and owner of Coley's on Sixth street, had no idea what was about to take place on his street and for his restaurant. 

"The city did not let us know. They didn't let me know. I showed up one day for work and there was contractors setting up road closed signs and I was like 'oh, okay,'" Coley said. 

The construction in front of Coley's restaurant was part of a larger project for the city- the Flat Branch Sewer Project, for which the city is spending nearly three million dollars to remove and replace underground pipes. 

For Coley, this project has had unforeseen consequences. With every street access point to his restaurant blocked off, he has seen business rapidly decline. 

"With the street being closed down on both sides, it looks like nothing's going on over here," he said. "It's been pretty wild to see the impact of the last six weeks. It's taken nine years to get here, and just like that, business is wiped."

Two days after construction began in August, the water main on Sixth Street broke, forcing a water shutoff. Coley called the city to find out he was on a 24-hour boil advisory. 

This was the first time he said he had heard anything from the city, and it would be the only time for weeks he would have any sort of update. 

As frustrating as the construction has been for Coley, he said the lack of construction on some days has been even worse. 

"I feel comfortable saying there's been a solid three weeks of nothing happening. There have been some weeks where literally nothing has happened. That's concerning to me," he said.

Columbia Community Relations Director Steven Sapp said business owners are always notified of a road closing in front of their place of work well before it happens. 

In the contract for the Flat Branch Sewer Project obtained by KOMU 8 News, there is language stating property owners will receive 15 days notice.

Despite all of this, Coley said he never got a call from the city. For weeks, he continued to go to work as usual. Day after day, he passed the construction slowly deteriorating his customer traffic.

"Our practice is to notify business owners when we're going to have long-term street closures," Sapp said. "We suspect this is a case when one utility thought another utility was making a notification when perhaps none was made."

Sapp admitted the city made a mistake, but said sometimes construction just can't wait.

"We understand that this impacts [businesses] at a level that we don't always appreciate enough. On the flip side of course, we have to do infrastructure improvements and road improvements," he said. 

Sapp said the department is shifting its focus on finding out how the error occurred.

"We are looking to see was there a breakdown, how did that breakdown occur, and how can we prevent that breakdown from happening again in the future," he said. 

Sapp said the city should probably contact businesses impacted, but hasn't.

"Certainly we need to remember to reach out to those who will be affected. It certainly doesn't appear that this has happened in this case. We are all responsible for that," he said. 

For Coley, the construction continues to take its toll. 

"For nine years I've been building this business. How quickly my traffic can be just taken away from me because the city shut down the street is very concerning," he said. "Every week it's gotten progressively worse"

On October 16, Coley took his case to the city council. He said while he can't prevent what happened to him, he hopes that the city makes changes to help any other businesses avoid this in the future.

He also said he hopes somehow the city can find a way to make reparations for what he has lost during the last two months.

Sixth street reopened on Friday, October 27th. 


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TARGET 8: Homeowners say contractor left them out thousands of dollars http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-homeowners-say-contractor-left-them-out-thousands-of-dollars/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-homeowners-say-contractor-left-them-out-thousands-of-dollars/ Target 8 Mon, 16 Oct 2017 1:46:53 PM Daniel Litwin, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Homeowners say contractor left them out thousands of dollars

COLUMBIA- When Laurie Matthews hired Joe Bias in June to replace some siding on her home, it was in good faith. She had hired him before.

"I was getting estimates on roofing for a rental property, and so I chose him and he did it, did a nice job," Matthews said. "He did take a while to get that roofed, but he did a very good job on it."

It's now October. Matthews is out $4,150 with a giant hole in her wall, and Bias is in jail for delivery of a controlled substance, with a bail of $75,000.

Bias and his wife Aimee are the owners of Valley View Roofing, a construction company based out of Columbia specializing in roofing, siding and gutter needs. Matthews said Bias was the first to point out that she had a bulge in her backyard wall siding, and he offered to fix it for her.

"He said, 'Do you care if I look behind to see if there's any damage?' And I said 'no,' not realizing what a huge portion of my house he was gonna take off," Matthews said.

According to bank records, Matthews paid Bias the $4,150. Matthews said he cleared the wall on July 29, letting Matthews know he would have the siding in by August 11. But come that day, Bias was nowhere to be found. Several back and forth text messages continued to escalate the situation, and by August 23, Bias had still not installed the siding.

Matthews gave him several chances to respond and threatened to take action if he didn't.

"Prosecuting attorney, small claims, Target 8. I went on Yelp, I went on different sites to give him bad reviews," Matthews said.

The texts started getting stranger after that. Whoever started texting Matthews after August 23 referred to Bias in the third person as if it wasn't his phone number.

"It must've been his wife," Matthews said.

Matthews texted Bias stating she would have to hire someone else to finish the job if she didn't hear back from him. The unidentified texter responded claiming Matthews had fired Bias, which is why the siding hadn't been installed yet.

"I didn't fire you. I just need my house taken care of," Matthews said.

They said they would allow Matthews to speak with Bias come Monday, September 4, because he was out of town for an emergency.

September 5 rolled around, and still, Matthews received no response.

"Then I just quit contact. I don't want to play the game of lies," Matthews said.

Matthews hasn't heard from Bias since Sept. 5.

"Basically, he never came back out," Matthews said.

And there's a good reason why he didn't. The Hannibal Courier-Post reported that on Sept. 29, Bias was arrested in Monroe County as part of a drug bust that could bring a drug supply ring within five counties to a halt.

Photo courtesy of Forrest Gossett with the Salt River Journal and Hannibal Courier-Post.

Bias was arrested along with four others. When officers arrived, Bias tried to flee but was quickly tackled and cuffed.

Bias is now in the Randolph County jail with a bond of $75,000, awaiting a preliminary court hearing.

Matthews isn't the only one who's had issues with Valley View Roofing. Joe Bias has a history of complaints and lawsuits for uncompleted work.

One customer said he was left with a ruined roof and $20,000 less in his bank account after working with Bias.

"We purchased a new home back in July of [2016], and when the inspection was done, the inspector noted there were some issues with the roof," said Craig Franklin, a professor with MU's Department of Veterinary Pathology. "The inspector recommended Joe as a roofer. Our first mistake was to not really look into his background."

Franklin was out of the house when Bias began working on the roof, but he raced back after getting a frantic phone call from Bias that the roof had collapsed.

"He had been taking off some of the paneling, and that destabilized the roof and he fell through our family room ceiling," Franklin said.

Now with more damages and infrastructure to replace, Bias gave Franklin a new estimate of $50,000 to complete all the repairs. Franklin then paid Bias $22,500.

"I have some friends from way back in high school that are construction folks, and they said, 'woah that seems like way too much,'" Franklin said.

Franklin and his wife did some research and found several complaints against his business, as well as a history of drug-related arrests.

"We asked Joe to discontinue work," Franklin said. He then decided to take legal action.

"We tried to get our money back. I don't think that will ever happen, but we really did it more for the purpose of insuring that no one else would run in to something like this," Franklin said. "We had a decision in our favor, but you know, it's not gonna go anywhere."

According to court records, in November 2015, ABC Supply also filed a lawsuit against Valley View Roofing for failing to pay for more than $7,000 in supplies. The company won the case in December 2016, but it's unclear if ABC received damages from Bias.

ABC Supply declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"Even though I'd used him twice, if I would've done it originally... I would've known he had other complaints with the Better Business Bureau," Matthews said.

Valley View Roofing is currently unaccredited by the Better Business Bureau and has an F rating on its website with five customer complaints, all telling similar stories: they partially paid Bias for a job, and instead of finishing, he vanished with their money.

"One of the most important things to do is to not give people money when they haven't done the work. So generally what we recommend is at most you would give a third of the money when the job gets started," said Sean Spence, regional director of the Better Business Bureau.

"If you're gonna hire someone, do some research," Matthews said.

Bias was not at his office when we visited, for now obvious reasons. Even though his business card listed 720 Grace Lane Suite C as his office address, an employee of James Fencing fence company, the business with which he shared office space, said Bias hadn't rented that space since 2016. 

When we called the number on his business card, it went straight to voicemail.

An earlier version of the story reported that Bias was in the Monroe County Jail. We have corrected it to say Randolph County Jail.


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TARGET 8: 10-year anniversary of girls' deaths highlights lack of guard rails http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-10-year-anniversary-of-girls-deaths-highlights-lack-of-guard-rails/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-10-year-anniversary-of-girls-deaths-highlights-lack-of-guard-rails/ Target 8 Thu, 12 Oct 2017 9:34:01 AM Jasmyn Willis, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: 10-year anniversary of girls' deaths highlights lack of guard rails

STURGEON – Families and friends are coming together to celebrate the lives of two girls who lost their lives in a fatal cross-over accident. The accident happened ten years ago on October 13.

There are two crosses on US 63 where the accident happened. Lorie Pirtle said the morning started out as a normal school day for her niece Whitney Bentlage and Whitley’s friend Elizabeth Shea.

“The girls were on their way to Merrill University in Moberly,” Pirtle said. “They started out as a regular morning. They were heading to Moberly. They...crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a semi-truck which ejected both of the girls and they were dead on impact.”

Bentlage was 18; Shea was 20 and had a one-year-old son.

Pirtle said friends and family come out to the crosses in the median of Highway 63 to maintain them, but coming back to where it happened is difficult for them.

“It’s very hard to come out here to see it,” Pirtle said. “But we do it, it needs to be done.”

Every year, the family gets together to remember the girls and have a balloon release at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.

“We write on the balloons messages or whatever and we send them up," Pirtle said. "We get together to remember the girls so their memory stays alive so we don’t forget them. That’s most important to me that we don’t forget them or anybody else whose lost their lives on this road.”

On Highway 63 in the Moberly area there are not any barriers that separate one side of the highway from the other side to prevent cross over accidents.

Pirtle started looking into statistics of accidents before and after guard cables were installed along a highway. She said she contacted MODOT after she noticed there were fewer fatal accidents along highways with guard cables.  

“I proceeded to contact MODOT,” Pirtle said. “How do we get the cables guards? Do we need to sign a petition, is it a tax thing, do I need to do a GoFundMe account? What is it that we need to do to get these guard cables up? I didn’t get a response back.”

Pirtle said that she doesn’t want another family to go through what her family has had to.

“They do save lives," Pirtle said. "That’s apparent. We can’t save our girls but at the same time maybe if we push hard enough we can get them and it will save someone else's.”

According to MODOT’s website, guard cables are designed to prevent cars from traveling across the median and hitting on coming traffic. MODOT said head-on collisions are some of the most severe and deadly crashes on our roadways.

MODOT found that on I-70 in 2002, there were 24 fatalities involving cars that crossed over the median. In 2007, a year after guard cable were installed on I-70, there was one fatality involving a cross-median crash.

Elizabeth’s dad Mark Shea said he believes the cable guard would have saved Whitney and Elizabeth's lives.

“If those barriers, had they been there, they would have survived because they stop semi-trucks and I'm sure it would have stopped that car that Whitney was driving and I'm sure they would still be here,” Mark said. “I'm not saying they wouldn't have gotten hurt.”

Ten years after the accident, Mark said he doesn't understand why cable guards haven't been installed in Moberly.

“I don't know why they can't put them on there, there on every other stretch of road,” Shea said. “It’s a 70 mile per hour road and the median isn’t that big.”

Elizabeth's son Aiden is being raised by his grandmother.

“Like I said earlier she left a 12-month-old baby,” Mark said. “So she's missed out on all of that. So there’s been an impact. Not a day goes by that doesn't remind you of them. And the family always posts pictures so it's never ending. She's always in the forefront.”

Mark said he doesn’t know what it will take to get cable guards installed.

“Those cables do prevent accidents,” Mark said. “They do save lives. So I wish someone would realize that. I just don't know what it takes to get that going. Lorie's been working diligently to get that someone to listen to her about that cable situation. So sooner or later.”

Pirtle said she also doesn’t know what it will take after she didn’t get a response from MODOT.

KOMU 8 reached out to MODOT to find out what factors it considers when determining if cable guard needs to be installed. Traffic liaison engineer John Miller says MODOT looks at cross median crashes, traffic volume, and median width.

"We're always analyzing," Miller said. "As far as trying to keep up on that concept, because we don't always know when a road may spike or traffic volumes increase to the point where the currents does increase. So every year we are always monitoring as best we can is the cross median crass occurrence starting on a road."

Miller says there has been a couple of cross median accidents in the last two years. But ultimately, Miller says and it comes down to money. Guard cable cost about $120 thousand per mile and $10 thousand dollars per mile to maintain each year. Installing guard cable along highway 63 from Columbia to Moberly would cost about 4 million dollars.

"We have a lot of other interests and needs across our state but a high concern also," Miller said.

Miller says guard cable must go through their prioritization process along with other work that needs to be done on Missouri roadways.

Miller said MODOT is still waiting for the crash data from 2016 to be complete to analyze it.

Pirtle said she doesn't want Bentlage and Shea to be forgot or other families to go through the same thing.

“I don’t know, I still don’t know,” Pitle said. “My next step is I want to see cable guards going up. If it takes me ten more years, I’ll keep doing it, I’ll keep pursuing it until I see cable guards up.”

 

 

 

 


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TARGET 8: Man charged in Harrisburg teacher's death had a pattern of illegal driving http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-man-charged-in-harrisburg-teacher-s-death-had-a-pattern-of-illegal-driving/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-man-charged-in-harrisburg-teacher-s-death-had-a-pattern-of-illegal-driving/ Target 8 Tue, 3 Oct 2017 7:28:17 PM James Packard, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Man charged in Harrisburg teacher's death had a pattern of illegal driving

COLUMBIA - The man charged in a fatal crash near Harrisburg last week had at least five previous convictions for driving without a valid license, according to court documents, part of a dizzying timeline of crimes that resulted in at least two probation sentences and two incarcerations. His record raises questions about how he could have still been able to drive.

Brandon Brill was charged with felony second degree murder Monday afternoon. Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight said the hefty charge stemmed from Brill's criminal record. Knight said Brill was in the process of committing a felony when he caused the death of another person, which fits into Missouri's definition of second degree murder. 

"Under the laws of the state of Missouri, it is a class E felony to drive without a valid operator's license on the third time," Knight said.

According to the probable cause statement from the crash last Thursday, "Brill did not have a valid operator's license at the time of the crash."

It's not clear if he had an invalid license with him, or no license at all. 

But available records showing Brill drove without a valid license go back to 2010. In 2012, after at least his third offense, records show he was sentenced to 5 years probation, but it ended early, and he was sentenced to 2 years in prison in 2014. It's not clear how much of that sentence he served, if any.

Court documents suggest that he was on probation in 2013 (from the 2012 offense), when he was again sentenced to incarceration: 3 months in the Boone County Jail, according to records. But the start date listed for that sentence was August 8, 2014, two weeks after his two-year prison sentence was supposed to start. In that case, a request for the case to move forward without Brill present was filed.

In May 2014, he was again charged with operating a vehicle without a valid license, according to court documents.

In August 2016, just weeks after his two-year prison sentence would have ended, records show he was hit with drug charges and put on two years supervised probation to start that November. It's not clear if Brill was on probation at the time of Thursday's crash.

Brill's record is so extensive and confusing that it's not immediately clear when, or if, he was ever in jail or on probation. Timelines overlap, and in some cases, there is no completion date listed on probations or incarcerations.

But his record raises red flags about why Brill was on the road last Thursday afternoon when the truck he was driving crossed the median and hit a school bus with five Harrisburg cross country team members and a teacher on board. The teacher, Brian Simpson, died. His funeral was Tuesday in Columbia.

Firefighters extricated Brill from the truck he was driving, and emergency responders took him to University Hospital. When KOMU 8 News called the hospital Tuesday, a staffer said there was no patient there with the name Brandon Brill.

After prosecutors charged Brill Monday, KOMU 8 News viewers on Facebook asked questions about how the crash could have been prevented. 

"Should never have been on road!!!" wrote Charlie Harrison.

"This accident should never have happened and yet it did. May God help everyone, including the driver charged with this accident. He should never have been driving," wrote Jean Feddema Sundet.

"As far as speculating on what exactly would have kept him off the road, I can't go into that at this point," Knight said, emphasizing that he was only able to talk about what was in the public record, like the probable cause statement.

According to Knight, Brill could face between 10 to 30 years or life in prison if he's convicted of felony second degree murder.

"I'm not gonna speculate at all on what sentence might eventually be imposed," Knight said. "Individuals who are charged with this crime, they can be placed on probation."

According to Knight and Boone County Detective Tom O'Sullivan, people driving without a valid license is nothing out of the ordinary.

"We have a large number of cases of individuals driving without a valid operator's license," Knight said.

While Knight and O'Sullivan didn't have exact numbers, they both said it happens frequently.

"The deterrent, hopefully is there, it's against the law," Knight said. "People should recognize you can't drive, you know, vehicles without a valid operator's license and there should be ramifications for that."

It wasn't clear Tuesday if Brill was in law enforcement custody. Knight said his office would contact the family of Brian Simpson soon.

Below is a timeline of Brill's criminal past.

Editor's note: The Boone County Jail provided KOMU 8 News with a mug shot of Brill from October 2013. 


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TARGET 8: Fire investigation raises concerns over previous violations http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fire-investigation-raises-concerns-over-previous-violations/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fire-investigation-raises-concerns-over-previous-violations/ Target 8 Wed, 27 Sep 2017 10:30:06 PM Kevin Ko, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Fire investigation raises concerns over previous violations

OSAGE BEACH - A fire at 962 Chateau Lane destroyed a lakeside condominium, leaving tenants homeless and causing officials to label it as uninhabitable. But about a week before the tragedy, a city inspector already deemed the building too dangerous to live in and was ready to post "no occupancy" just days after the flames erupted.

"I lost everything."

Rachel Marie Tapp is one of the residents in a condo building that was scorched in a fire last Wednesday. She says the flames destroyed all of the personal items that meant the most to her.

"I lost my great-great grandparents dresser that has been handed down to me," Tapp said. "I lost a box with every photo that my mother ever took of us growing up and my dad, who passed away, all my pictures of him. My mothers day cards my kids made me, all my furniture, all my clothes, all my kid's belongings - it's all gone. Everything."

But while the building was condemned after the fire, Tapp said the property was already on the verge of being shut down after an Osage Beach official inspected her home on Sept. 12.

"She (city inspector) couldn't tell me officially, but she said the building is not livable," Tapp said.

While the inspector's words weren't "official" on Sept. 12, they were after she issued a notice to the property owner's the following day, stating, "This property will be posted no occupancy as of Sept. 25, 2017."

Five days before the city planned to shut it down, the condominium burned down.

"The entire property is dangerous and unsafe..."

Read the full reports from the Osage Beach building inspector below, which includes the "Notice of Violation" (Sept. 12) and "Supplemental Inspection Report" (Sept. 13).

The inspection uncovered more than one problem - it found fifteen violations, including "unsafe structures" and "structure unfit for human occupancy."

Tapp said beyond the structural dangers, she realized how severe her home's health hazards were during the inspection.

"I peeled up the wallpaper in my laundry room the day I called the inspector so she could see, and the entire wall was completely black," Tapp said. "She told me that if I had a place to go right then, I needed to go right away because of how bad the black mold was."

The same day she says the city inspector looked through her home (Sept. 12), the city of Osage Beach ordered the property owner to correct the violations. If nobody responded within ten days, the city would "file suit against you in the Municipal Court of the City of Osage Beach asking the court to order you to correct these violations and also asking the Court to assess a fine against you for violation of the Code."

An anonymous city official from Osage Beach confirmed there was never any contact made from the property's owner within the ten-day deadline.

"It's a police investigation now."

The case was handed to the state fire marshal's office last Thursday, according to Eddie Nicholson, the Osage Beach Division Chief of Fire Prevention Bureau.

He said officials already were able to piece together a general narrative, but other complications related to the investigation caused statewide agencies to get involved.

"The landlord was repairing a water line, and the fire started in the unit he was working in," Nicholson said last Thursday.

"We know what happened, there's just some questions on the storyline," he said. "We did call in the state fire marshal's office to help with that, so they are now leading the investigation. They have more policing powers than we have to subpoena records and ask for different documents that we can't do because we're not police officers."

"Everyone that lives here has needed repairs done and he avoids coming here because he's not willing to do the repairs," Tapp said.

"My entire bathroom floor, there was two holes about this big that had caved in and were continuously dripping water."

The fire is still under investigation.


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TARGET 8: Tenants say apartment complex construction means danger http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-tenants-say-apartment-complex-construction-means-danger/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-tenants-say-apartment-complex-construction-means-danger/ Target 8 Sun, 27 Aug 2017 9:40:32 PM Abby Breidenbach, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Tenants say apartment complex construction means danger

SHELBINA - Betty White walks with a cane and has a limp in her step; she says it's because of a serious knee injury she got outside of her home. She said she was hurt when she fell to the ground steps away from her front door at her apartment complex.

White said she called the Target 8 Investigative team to get to the bottom of why her landlord neither repaired her apartment complex nor paid her hospital bills.

According to multiple tenants at the Shelbina Apartments, construction began sometime in early May and was not near complete three months later. 

"I can't park out in front because the parking lot's all torn up. There are open trenches. All the sidwalks are ripped out. It's a mess," White said.

White said she and her neighbors live in an open construction zone against their will, and they pay the price.

"It's very dangerous. People have fell. I know four for a fact that have fallen, me included," said White, who ended up with a pricey emergency room bill after her incident. 

Tenants said despite multiple calls, their landlord never offered recompense or acknowledged their strife.

White recounted her own experience looking for answers from her landlord. "I alerted her. I called her on her personal phone. I couldn't get an answer. Her voicemail was full. I called the office phone and left a message even though it was the weekend. My daughter also texted her on her personal phone. I called the main office. No one's ever called me back, and I fell July 6." 

Target 8 tried to reach the landlord by making multiple calls and leaving voicemails. When these went unanswered, Target 8 contacted a lawyer for perspective.

Attorney Hal Gibbs said he often deals with landlord/tenant legal issues. 

"If you are leasing a space it is deemed to be habitable, which is a term under the law, and so as a matter of being habitable it should be safe and clean without any hazard or danger," said Gibbs. He called the law as it relates to this specific situation, "pretty common sense."

"Just because you are renting doesn't mean you don't have any rights," said Gibbs. He said the landlord is typically responsible for keeping common areas, such as walkways, sidewalks and parking lots "habitable."

"If you can't get it worked out with the landlord, then really your only recourse is to file a lawsuit against the landlord for breach of the lease," Gibbs said.

White and a few neighbors explained they were worried if they were to go over the landlord's head, they would be left with no place to go. Most are low income, relying on government assistance, and many are disabled.

"A lot of us are afraid to complain too much because a lot of these people don't have a lot of family that can back them up if they're asked to move," said White.

Target 8 called the city of Shelbina in hopes an inspector might have some answers. An official said the city does not have specific codes for apartment complexes and maintenance. In other cities, like Columbia, for example, there are typically easy to find landlord and tenant resources, including specfied codes and inspector information.


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TARGET 8: Phone scam spoofing numbers, tricking callers http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-phone-scam-spoofing-numbers-tricking-callers/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-phone-scam-spoofing-numbers-tricking-callers/ Target 8 Wed, 2 Aug 2017 4:21:18 PM Stephanie Sandoval, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Phone scam spoofing numbers, tricking callers

JEFFERSON CITY - A different kind of phone scam is emerging — leaving businesses and others vulnerable. 

Now, there are even phone apps to help scammers steal your information. It’s called spoofing — using a different number other than your own to trick the person you’re calling. It’s not new, but it can be considered a crime in some capacities. 

KOMU 8 News began looking into this type of scam after a viewer emailed us: 

"The other day I got a call like that but it had a local number on my caller ID. I Googled the number and discovered it was the Columbia Police training division. I called them and advised that someone was spoofing their number to make sales calls. Twice in the past two weeks I have received calls from people who said they had gotten sales type calls and my cell showed up on their caller ID. I told them I did not call them. Somehow these people are able to put someone else's phone number on call waiting but calling from a different number."  

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, it’s unlawful for any person within the United States to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value. 

Private Investigator Melinda Kidder said if you’re in doubt about the identity or the validity of someone who's calling, hang up and tell them you’ll call them back. Then call the actual person directly or law enforcement. She said this type of scam is different because it looks real. 

“The caller ID gives it legitimacy to a lot of people,” Kidder said. “It makes it look like they really are who they say they are so when you see the caller ID as coming from law enforcement or a company with whom you’ve dealt, it looks accurate. It looks like it’s believable and that you should actually listen to them and pay attention to what they have to say.” 

The Missouri State Treasurer’s Office recently had an encounter with a scammer using its caller ID and pretending to be intelligence officers or special agents. State Treasurer Eric Schmitt said his office has zero tolerance for this kind of fraudulent activity. 

“We issued a release right away, making people aware of these fraudsters claiming to be from the state treasurer’s office,” Schmitt said. "And I think what the most important thing is for people to be aware is that we will never call anyone related to these tax issues nor do we actually handle tax payment.”

Schmitt said they are working with law enforcement and the state attorney general’s office. 

“We’re going to try to track down who these people are and prosecute them for fraud or whatever we can do under the law because they you can’t call and act as you’re some government agent asking for people’s money,” Schmitt said. 

Schmitt said victims of this type of call should report it to the attorney general’s office, but Kidder said this type of scam is hard to track down by law enforcement. 

“It’s harder for them to track down the original caller,” Kidder said. “They would have to subpoena actual spoof companies so but I don’t think it’s necessarily harder to report. People can go ahead and report it directly to the company that the person is spoofing or law enforcement.”

According to the attorney general's office, 4,068 phone scams were reported in the last five years. 

Spoofing can occur in many different ways. 

“You have so many ways that people try and steal your information whether it’s in person, by phone, by email, by text,” Kidder said. 

Kidder said it’s never a good idea to give out your personal information. 

“If you wouldn’t give it to your grandma, why give it to a stranger,” Kidder said. “Why give it to someone you don’t know so value that information and remember that this is your livelihood potentially that’s at risk.”

And if the IRS is calling, Kidder said you have nothing to worry about. 

“For them to call you would be extremely rare,” Kidder said. “You would already have some kind of case ongoing with them for them to call you. So, for the IRS to call would be unlikely. They would most likely send a letter and that in itself you would want to verify as well."

 


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