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Tag Archive | "Kent County Sheriff Department"

Man injured in motorcycle crash


A Spencer Township man was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash last Friday, September 28.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a motorist came across a crashed motorcycle lying in the roadway at Maston Lake Dr NE and Penelope Dr NE, in Spencer Township about 4:20 a.m. Spencer Township Fire and Rescue was first on the scene and found the rider off the roadway and unresponsive. 

Aeromed transported the man, identified as Raymond Hilliker, 39, of Spencer Township, to Butterworth Hospital, with life-threatening injuries.

Police said the preliminary investigation showed that the bike was traveling northeast on Maston Lake Drive and the rider failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway and crashed. There were no passengers on the bike, and the rider was not wearing a helmet. Speed and/or alcohol may be a factor, but the crash is still under investigation.

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Woman injured in crash


A Cedar Springs woman was critically injured last Thursday when her vehicle was hit from behind by another vehicle.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred on Thursday, August 16, about 6:47 p.m. in the 15000 block of Algoma Avenue, in Solon Township.

The investigation showed that a 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada, driven by Cynthia DeLoof, 42, of Newaygo, was traveling northbound on Algoma when her vehicle collided with a 2008 Chrysler 300, also traveling northbound. Witnesses reported that the Chrysler, driven by Lila DeLine, 36, of Cedar Springs, had slowed or stopped on the roadway preparing to turn and was rear-ended by the at fault vehicle.

The driver of the Chrysler was transported by ambulance to the hospital in critical condition. The driver of the at-fault vehicle refused medical treatment at the scene. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident. 

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Solon Township Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance.

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Crash sends elderly couple to hospital


Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

An elderly Grand Rapids couple was injured Wednesday after their vehicle ran a stop sign and was hit by another vehicle at Edgerton and 14 Mile Road.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they were called to the scene of the crash at 5:20 p.m. August 8. 

The investigation showed that a Ford Focus, driven by an 83-year-old Grand Rapids woman, was traveling northbound on Edgerton and failed to stop at the sign at 14 Mile Road. A Ford Taurus, occupied by a Cedar Springs couple, was traveling westbound on 14 Mile Rd, and hit the Focus in the passenger side.

Both the 83-year-old woman and her passenger, a 90-year-old male, were transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital by Rockford Ambulance with possible internal injuries.

The male driver of the Taurus complained of a wrist injury, and his wife complained of a possible ankle injury. They went to Spectrum United Hospital in Greenville by private transport to be checked out. 

Algoma Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

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Police investigate embezzlement from youth football 


The Cedar Springs Youth Football League needs the community’s help to stay afloat after it was discovered funds were embezzled from the group. Photo by April Victorson.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Youth Football League board met in January and heard what their balance was, they knew something was very wrong. A lot of money was missing—including the $7,000 they had saved over the past two years to be able to buy new jerseys with this season.

The board began digging into bank and financial statements to try to piece together what happened. They also began getting invoices and collection calls from their equipment supplier. What they found was that they had $10,000 missing and $6,800 in unpaid invoices.

“It was a huge double whammy for us,” said trustee Amy Gillette.

And the only two board members that had previously had access to the money or bank account are no longer on the board.

According to Detective Mike Tanis, with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, they received the case on March 16. “We think it was two different people skimming the funds,” he said. “Each didn’t know the other was doing it.” He is working to bring charges against the people he believes is involved, possibly by the end of this month. He confirmed the two suspects are no longer on the board, and that the members of the current board were not involved. 

“We are working closely with the Kent County Sheriff Department to bring justice and answers about the embezzlement of our program to our football players, families, and community,” the league said in a letter on page 5. They apologized that it happened, and noted that they are implementing an embezzlement-proof system going forward.

In the meantime, the league could use the community’s help to get the season off the ground. Gillette said that the registration fees should cover what they need to run the program this year, but grades 3-6 will have to wear the old jerseys they were trying to replace. She said the most urgent need is the unpaid invoices from 2017 equipment sales ($6,800). They also suffered from the vandalism that hit Skinner Field earlier this year, but she said Skinner Field was going to try to cover that cost. 

One way you can help is by attending a fundraising event they are holding on July 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Skinner Field. There will be a dunk tank, kids games, bake sale, plant sale, can drive, gift basket raffles, spirit wear, and concessions. Tickets will be used for all events, and are two for $1.00. 

They will also be holding some can drives. From July 8-13, you can drop them off at Family Farm & Home from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On July 14, drop them off at Skinner Field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On July 15, drop off at Family Farm & Home, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Other ways to help include volunteering, and personal and corporate sponsorships. 

Please call Amy Gillette at 616-915-5509 if  you’d like to help in any way.

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Goodbye Sgt. Kelley


Sgt. Jason Kelley, formerly supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, has taken on a new position in the investigative division. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Police Department dissolved in 2014, and the Kent County Sheriff Department took over policing for the City of Cedar Springs in a unique partnership, many residents weren’t sure how smooth the transition would be, or what to expect. But there was one person working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure it was everything residents expected and more—Sgt. Jason Kelley. 

Kelley has been in charge of the new Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department for the last 3-1/2 years. As of this week, he took on a new assignment as Detective Sergeant with the investigative division. 

“We are both excited for and saddened by Sergeant Kelley’s promotion and departure from Cedar Springs,” said City Manager Mike Womack. “He has been a valuable asset to the community and he will be missed but we do wish him the best in his new position with the major cases unit.”

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the community, and being part of a smaller community,” remarked Kelley. “The residents have been great to work with on problem solving and any community policing efforts we’ve tried.”

As far as accomplishments, he said he feels that he and the deputies have forged a good relationship between the Sheriff Dept. and the citizens of Cedar Springs. “We have a highly visible patrol, and we’ve made contact with community members that we might not have if we had not been as visible,” he said.

Another accomplishment he’s been happy with is that of the placement of a school resource officer at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “That has been a great success,” noted Kelley.

He also feels that they have made a lot of headway into arresting and convicting those using and manufacturing narcotics. “There have been at least four or more meth labs busted. And our vice teams have cooperated so much with us here in Cedar Springs in helping us get if off the street.”

What does he think was his best accomplishment? “Somehow I’ve been able to get great deputies,” he remarked. “All who have worked here have wanted to work here. They need to be great deputies for it to work.”

The original Cedar Springs officers that trained to be Sheriff Deputies have moved on to other sectors in the county, according to Kelley, and it was their own choice. There have also been other deputies who have served here since the transition that had ties to Cedar Springs such as Deputies Jason VanDyke, Todd Frank, and Mike Tanis. Tanis is now a detective at the north substation.

Kelley said that of all the cases he’s been involved with here, one of the most memorable was the vandalism, theft, and recovery of the Timothy Brown monument. “It may not be the most significant, but it is probably the nearest and dearest to my heart because of the family and community emotions tied to it, and my ties to the veteran community,” he explained.

Kelley said one of the most important things he’s learned from his assignment here is how important it is to have buy in and cooperation from the community. “We can’t do our job without community involvement. We know that already, but when you are closer to the community, you realize that even more so.” He said the Timothy Brown monument case was a good example of that. “When we put the word out, and you publish things in the paper that we are looking for someone, people give us tips. We get that community involvement.” He added that once they give the tip, it’s also important that community members will feel safe and confident that the officers will do their job. “Citizens really play a key role in law enforcement,” he said. 

Kelley grew up in Benzie County and graduated from Benzie Central High School. After graduation he joined the Navy and served on active duty for six years, and earned his degree in Criminal Justice. After leaving the Navy, he attended the Police Academy in Traverse City, and then served with the Benzie County Sheriff Department for two years, from 200-2002. He was with Rogers City Police Department from 2002-2003, and was hired by the Kent County Sheriff Department in January of 2003.

While at the KCSD, he has worked road patrol out of the Central, North and South substations, had several assignments with the detective bureau including the burglary and theft unit, and served on the major case team. He was also a road patrol day shift supervisor, and road patrol night shift supervisor for the Central/North sector, before coming to Cedar Springs.

Kelley was named Deputy of the year for 2014 for his success with the Cedar Springs transition, among other things. “Due to his outstanding performance, enthusiasm and work ethic, Sgt. Kelley was selected to be the Cedar Springs Unit supervisor and was instrumental in making this ‘Change of Command’ transition a huge success,” wrote Sheriff Larry Stelma at the time. 

Kelley has made a lot of friends in the community and will be missed by many. He has some mixed emotions of his own. “I’m sad to leave this assignment but excited for my new role in the investigative division,” he remarked.

On behalf of the community of Cedar Springs, The Post wishes Sgt. Kelley well on his new assignment!

Next week, we will introduce you to the new supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit, Sgt. Todd Probst. 

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Man takes own life after setting fire to home


 

This pole barn was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire Friday morning, May 18, 2018. Post photo by J. Reed

by Judy Reed

When Paul Schrier visited Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral home last Friday morning, he walked by a man sitting in his vehicle with the window down and gave him a friendly hello. He doesn’t remember if the man responded.

“I may have been the last person to talk to him,” said Schrier.

When he finished his business at the funeral home, Schrier noticed the man was still there in the parking lot as he headed over to Elmwood Cemetery to dig more holes for the Avenue of Flags. About 10 minutes later, Schrier heard a gunshot. When he looked to see what was going on, he saw the flashing lights of police at the funeral home. And then he heard another shot. What Schrier didn’t know was that this was the tragic end of the search for Bruce Bott, the 71-year-old Algoma Township man who had set his house on fire and burned his property earlier that morning, before ending his life in the parking lot of the funeral home.

A fire was set by the homeowner in the basement of this home on Algoma Ave. Post photo by J. Reed.

It started early Friday morning, May 18. According to Algoma Township Fire Chief Troy Guerra, they were toned out at 6:48 a.m. to a structure fire at 12131 Algoma Ave, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When they arrived on scene, they found the basement of the home on fire, as well as the pole barn. He said they sent out a second alarm on the pole barn fire to call in more aid. 

Guerra said they didn’t find anyone inside the home.

The fire also spread to a small shed behind the home, which was extinguished. The pole barn was destroyed.

The fire was deemed suspicious, and while firefighters from multiple fire departments battled the blazes, and the Michigan State Police investigated the fire, the Kent County Sheriff Department followed up on information they were given about a contentious divorce, in case the fire was deemed arson. The divorce between Bott and his wife was finalized April 30. So police began to search for Bott.

This shed near the home was also burned in the fire May 18. Post photo by J. Reed.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Kent County Sheriff Office received a call from Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral home in the 13000 block of Northland Dr NE. The caller reported a suspicious person who had just arrived at their facility. Dispatchers learned that Bott was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot after dropping off a last will and testament to the funeral home.

The man was still sitting in his vehicle when officers arrived, but as deputies approached, they saw him shoot himself with a handgun. No shots were fired by responding deputies.

Bott was safely transported to Spectrum Butterworth with life threatening injuries. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., he was pronounced dead by medical staff at Spectrum Butterworth.

There were no injuries to the man’s ex-wife, who was not living at the home at the time of the fire.

 

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Suspicious package at courthouse


The Kent County 63rd District Court was on lockdown for about three hours on Monday, May 14, after a suspicious package was found.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they responded to the courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. Deputies were directed to an envelope that was received through the US Postal Service that contained an unknown powdery substance.

The FBI and the Grand Rapids Fire Department Hazmat Team also responded to the courthouse and assisted in assessing the extent of the threat, as well as containment of the unknown substance. As a precautionary measure, the courthouse was locked down for a period of approximately three hours until it was determined that the substance had been contained and was not a threat to anyone inside or outside of the building. There were no symptoms of exposure reported by anyone.

The investigation is ongoing, and additional testing will be conducted to determine exactly what the substance is. Anyone with information about this situation is encouraged to call the Kent County Sheriff’s Office or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345. 

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Beware of requests for wire transactions


 

A couple who were buying a home were victims in a wire fraud scam.

On April 5, the Kent County Sheriff Department took a report of a fraud involving a large dollar amount via wire transaction. Police said the victims were in the process of purchasing a new home and were scheduled to be closing on the home in the upcoming days. They received an email that appeared to be from their bank and one from their builder requesting their down payment be sent by wire rather than bringing a cashier’s check with them to closing. The email appeared to be legitimate and included information such as the address of the home they were purchasing, file number, and their builder’s information. The victims wired approximately $180,000 to what they believed was the title office.

The bank that received the wired funds felt the wire transfer was suspicious and contacted the victim to question it. After realizing the wire transfer destination was fraudulent, the victim contacted the Kent County Sheriff Department for assistance.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is urging citizens to use caution and make multiple inquiries, either in person or by telephone, prior to making large value wire transactions. Make every effort to contact your builder, realtor, title company, and closing office prior to engaging in any transactions not made in person. The stress of purchasing new homes and wanting transactions to go smoothly can make people more susceptible to these scams.

If you feel you have become a victim, it is important to contact law enforcement as soon as possible because there are times the wire transfers can be stopped.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100.

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Vandals smash toilets, burn flag in sink at Skinner Field


This smashed toilet is just one of the many things destroyed in a break-in at the Skinner Field locker room over the weekend. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Vandals struck again at Skinner Field last week, and this time it was not about stealing candy bars.

According to Shawn Kiphart, President of the Friends of Skinner Field, the concession stand and locker room were both targets recently in two different incidents. First was the concession stand, early last week. Kiphart said they dumped chemicals (cleaning supplies) on the floor, then put paper on it and tried to burn it. Then this past Sunday, they discovered the locker room had been broken into. And it was far more destructive.

Vandals burned a flag in the sink in the locker room. Courtesy photo.

According to Kiphart, the locker room has large steel doors that you cannot get into, so the suspect(s) broke out a small daylight window that sits about seven feet off the ground. Nothing appeared to be stolen, but the vandals smashed and destroyed toilets, urinals, 11 new first aid kits, showerheads, football equipment and more. Two of the toilets were brand new. They also burned a flag in the sink. 

“In years past, it was very obvious that the break-ins were more about mischief and kids getting in there to get candy,” remarked Kiphart. “But this was far more vicious. They were in there to destroy it.” 

More damage at Skinner Field. Courtesy photo.

Kiphart estimates the damage was $2,000 to $3,000.

The Friends of Skinner field Board and Cedar Youth Football League have set up a gofundme account to raise money for the repairs and losses they suffered from these latest break-ins, as well as to upgrade security and maintain the complex. Please visit their page at: 

https://www.gofundme.com/skinner-field-fund

If anyone has any information about this case, please contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345, or download the Silent Observer app for your phone, and use it to contact them. They will then pass on your tip to the Kent County Sheriff Department.

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Man hit and killed while crossing road


Brian Terhorst

A Jenison man survived a rollover crash early Sunday morning, and then was hit and killed by a pickup truck as he walked across the road.

It happened on Sunday, March 11, at about 1:55 a.m., in Sparta Township. 

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the initial crash occurred in the 12200 block of Fruit Ridge Ave. Brian Terhorst, 40, of Jenison, was driving a 2007 GMC pickup northbound on Fruit Ridge Ave when it crossed the centerline and left the roadway. The pickup hit a driveway and flipped over. The truck then landed on the passenger side in the ditch, on the west side of the roadway. 

Terhorst and his passenger, Miranda Moyer, 32, of Sparta, climbed out of the vehicle and attempted contact at a nearby residence on the east side of the road. A southbound vehicle saw the crashed pickup in the ditch and stopped and called 911 to report what had occurred. During this time, the couple walked back to the roadway. Terhorst made contact with the person in the vehicle. The second crash occurred when Terhorst was conversing with the stopped vehicle and walked back across the road to the west and walked into the path of a passing northbound vehicle driven by Jacob West, 25, of Sparta. 

Terhorst died at the scene from his injuries.

Both crashes remain under investigation. 

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