Police say Claudena Marie Helton was naked when she made her 11-year-old daughter help drag her two younger children’s bodies toward the curb in 2017’s most shocking crime-related story around Dayton.
Helton, 30, of Dayton, was indicted for shooting Khmorra Helton, 8, and Kaiden Helton, 6, in the head at 3821 Lori Sue Ave. on May 17. They died May 21 at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Helton told a Dayton police detective she killed her children to “save them from the evils of the world,” according to court documents.
Helton faces a potential death penalty murder trial, but her attorney has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. She has been ruled competent to stand trial, but reports about her sanity at the time of the alleged offense are not yet complete.
Helton has a bond of $1 million and is being housed at the Montgomery County Jail.
The year’s crime stories also include the controversy surrounding a doctor’s alleged touching of two female patients’ breasts for no medical reason, a convicted murderer who killed twice more while incarcerated, the sentencing of Dayton’s biggest Ponzi scheme artist and Dayton hitting the national spotlight for the fentanyl epidemic.
Other big stories included sex crime charges against multiple area educators, a Dayton man accused of trying to join ISIS, the raid and closing of The Harem strip club, the paroling of a Dayton woman who served more than two decades in prison for murder, police-involved fatal shootings, the death of a Dayton woman gunned down while babysitting after a bar fight involving her friends and family and a cheerleader accused of killing her baby.
Here’s a look at some of the other biggest crime, justice and public-safety related stories of 2017:
Carlisle cheerleader accused of burying newborn
Brooke Skyler Richardson, of Carlisle, is the 18-year-old accused of killing her baby and burning the child’s body before burying the infant girl in her backyard two days after her prom.
Prosecutors said the baby was born at full term, but that the exact cause of death may never be known. Her attorney has said Richardson did not kill her baby.
Richardson, who had an eating disorder according to published reports, is free on a $50,000 bond. The judge issued a gag order in the case, which is scheduled for trial in April 2018.
Fentanyl brings national spotlight to Montgomery County
Building on attention that started in 2016, the fentanyl epidemic brought national media to southwest Ohio in 2017.
The New York Times wrote in February about the coroner’s office running out of space for bodies and in June about fentanyl and other synthetic drugs replacing heroin. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came to the area to talk about opioid addiction.
There were also stories published about the region’s fentanyl issues by OZY.com, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, NBC News, Reuters, the Tribune News Service, CNN, The New Yorker and Huffington Post.
The Harem strip club raided, shut down
The Harrison Twp. strip club was raided at the end of a nine-month investigation by an arm of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and called a “sex and drug den” by Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.
Along with 11 people facing criminal charges, Heck sought and won a civil action to shut down The Harem for a year. Many of the criminal defendants have either received intervention in lieu of conviction or sentenced to probation.
Teachers in trouble for sex, drugs
• Ex-substitute teacher Madeline Marx, 23, accused of having sexual contact with two Kettering Fairmont High School students, is seeking to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Marx, charged Nov. 9, admitted to having sexual intercourse with one student and oral sex with another, according to court records.
• Ex-Miamisburg Middle School teacher Jessica Langford, 32, is alleged to have had sexual intercourse and oral sex with a 14-year-old student. Langford has pleaded not guilty. She was indicted Nov. 14.
• Ex-Dayton Stivers High School teacher John S. Findley, 34, faces charges of pandering obscenity involving a minor. Two Kettering Fairmont part-time employees were dismissed in June from their jobs due to their association with Findley, according to Fairmont officials.
• Springboro elementary school teacher Amy Panzeca, who is on leave, is accused of helping her teen son obtain the online currency Bitcoin to purchase LSD. Both were arrested in mid-August.
Panzeca’s son was sentenced to 30 days in the Warren County Detention Center, ordered to complete an in-patient treatment program and placed on probation. He was accused of possessing and trafficking in LSD to 25 to 30 high school students.
Dayton Children’s Hospital doctor to go on trial
Former Dayton Children’s doctor Arun Aggarwal, 40, faces four counts of gross sexual imposition after two female patients alleged he touched their breasts in 2013 and 2014. He was arrested Aug. 18 in Washington, D.C. after flying from Cleveland. He was planning to board a connecting flight to India. His trial is scheduled for January 2018.
Records obtained by this news organization showed a raging debate existed among managers at Children’s over how to respond to the allegations against the pediatric gastroenterologist.
After the state medical board stripped Aggarwal of his license, Dayton Children’s Hospital CEO Deb Feldman said the hospital “could have done better” handling the situation.
Three police-involved shootings lead to fatalities
Police officers in Englewood, Kettering and Moraine all fired fatal shots against suspects in 2017. None so far have led to charges against the officers.
• Englewood police officer Tim Corcoran shot and killed Shelly Porter III on Feb. 5 in the parking lot of the vacant Englewood Inn. Officer-work video partially shows the confrontation, which included Porter being Tased twice and a physical alteration. Porter, 41, a suspect in the discharging of a weapon earlier that day at a different hotel, was found to have a gun.
• Kettering police officer Jonathon McCoy shot and killed Jason Hoops, 33, during a traffic stop of a vehicle in which Hoops was a passenger. Dash-cam video released a week after the Aug. 27 shooting showed McCoy repeatedly telling Hoops not to reach for a gun before McCoy pulled the trigger and shot several times. Police said Hoops ignored 30 commands.
• Moraine police officers John Howard and Jerry Knight shot and killed Jamarco McShann, 23, on Oct. 20 while McShann was in his car outside an apartment complex on Pinnacle Road.
Police Chief Craig Richardson said McShann, the suspect of a report of a suspicious vehicle, pointed a weapon at officers. McShann’s family and supporters say McShann was asleep before officers pointed their weapons at him. The officers are back to work. The shooting is still being investigated.
Dayton man accused of trying to join ISIS
Laith Waleed Alebbini, 27, was arrested at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport in April by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force before starting a trip to Jordan. He was accused of attempting to help ISIS by providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
Prosecutors said Alebbini watched pro-ISIS content with a Confidential Human Source (CHS) as well as calling himself “a perfect recruit for ISIS,” according to court documents. In filing a motion to have his bond reconsidered, Alebbini’s federal public defender wrote that Alebbini is a legal permanent U.S. resident with no criminal record who has an infant son.
Dayton woman shot and killed while babysitting
Taylor Brandenburg, 20, was shot and killed in a Huffman Avenue residence March 12 after a fight among two groups of people at The Glass Hat Bar & Grill. Police said some of the people from one group retrieved a gun and drove to where people in the other group lived..
Police say Chuckie Lee shot and killed Brandenburg by firing several shots at the house. Evans Cassell, 36, pleaded guilty to complicity to commit murder and will spend 18 years to life in prison. Lee and his then-girlfriend, Kara Parisi-King, have trials scheduled for early 2018.
Patterson to be released after 23 years in prison for murder
Dayton’s Tyra Patterson, whose plight received national and international attention, is to be released from prison on Christmas Day.
Patterson, 42, was convicted of the 1994 murder of 15-year-old Michelle Lai but had a growing list of supporters — including Lai’s sister — advocating her freedom because she claimed she wasn’t an active participant in Lai’s death. Patterson officially won her release from the Ohio Parole Board in October.
Man convicted of two murders accused of a third
Lebanon Correctional Institution inmate Casey Pigge, already serving life sentences for murdering his girlfriend’s mother in 2009 and using a concrete block to beat to death inmate Luther Wade in 2016, allegedly killed inmate David Johnson Feb. 1. The inmates were being transported to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt blasted state prison officials for Pigge’s alleged choking death of Johnson, 61. Pigge pleaded not guilty but was expected to reach a plea deal.
“The fact that he was left alone with access to other inmates is beyond me,” Schmidt said of Pigge, whose low IQ prevents prosecutors from seeking the death penalty. “I’m completely amazed this was allowed to happen.”
‘Bernie Madoff of Dayton’ sentenced in Ponzi scheme
Springboro’s William Apostelos, 55, was sentenced on June 30 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay back more than $32 million in a Ponzi scheme that bilked hundreds of investors out of their retirement money.
One man who invested and lost nearly $500,000 of his family’s money just weeks before Apostelos’ arrest, said Apostelos was the “poster child of a con artist — slick, smooth and ruthless.”
Apostelos’ wife, Connie, and other family members and an attorney also were punished for their roles in the Ponzi scheme. Connie Apostelos was sentenced to 30 months.