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December 7, 2017 - 10:00am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in Parson's Place, news, Attica, business.

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When 25-year-old Nikki McMahon’s grandmother was reaching retirement, she decided last month to take over Parson’s Place, a Christian book and gifts store her grandmother started in Attica.

Sally Harding, McMahon’s grandmother, launched the business in 1991. It's located at 11157 Alexander Road on Route 98. McMahon started working for her grandmother during busy seasons and breaks during schooling.

“I’ve been around Parson’s Place my whole life,” McMahon said. “I wanted to see this place go on. I didn’t want to see it end with her.”

McMahon has traveled to Europe, lived in North Carolina and Florida for a period of time, but grew up in Attica, down the street from her grandmother.

After taking over the business, McMahon decided that she wanted to create more of an online presence for the store.

“I’ve been posting on Facebook more,” McMahon said. “We are also on Google now. So, when you search ‘Christian Book Stores’ Parson’s Place shows up. It’s been helping a lot.”

More things are also being added online to their website, located here, including an online store.

“I’m hoping we have a more thriving online store eventually,” McMahon said.

McMahon is trying to think outside the box with advertising and other things to get the word out about the store. An open house was held a couple weeks ago, which was popular, McMahon said.

“I’m just hoping to bring in some newer things,” McMahon said. “I’m focusing on inspirational gifts rather than books. Even though we do still have the books, the gifts are more popular right now. I want to bring the influence of the next generation into the store.”

McMahon said being a young business owner is a lot more work than she anticipated.

“Honestly, it’s great working for myself,” McMahon said. “It's rewarding and I love talking to customers that come into the store.”

Parson’s Place is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“My grandma opened this store as a source of inspiration in ministry for Western New York,” McMahon said. “I intend to do the same for as long as I can.”

October 16, 2017 - 9:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, Darien, batavia, notify, Stafford, Attica.

Tatiana C. Lugo, 22, no permanent address, Batavia, is charged with: second-degree harassment;third-degree robbery; endangering the welfare of a child; tampering with physical evidence; and criminal mischief, 4th. Lugo was allegedly involved in a fight with a male on Bank Street at 1:02 p.m. Sunday in the presence of two young children. During the course of the investigation by officers Kevin DeFelice and James Prusak, Lugo allegedly stole property from the victim. Lugo was ordered held without bail.

Patrick Ervin Say, 57, of Nesbitt Road, Attica, is charged with DWI, driving left of pavement markings, and failure to keep right. Say was allegedly involved in a single-car accident on Molasses Hill Road, Bethany, at 5:43 p.m. Sunday. The accident was investigated by Deputy Ryan Delong and Sgt. Jason Saile. (Initial Report)

Shane Lee Hoehn, 43, of Seven Springs Road, Batavia, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, failure to notify DMV of address change, and driving over the divide on a divided highway. Hoehn was stopped at 2:16 a.m. Sunday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Deputy Eric Meyer.

Clifford W. Matthews, 43, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Stafford, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely, drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Matthews was allegedly involved in an accident on Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Stafford, at 4:43 p.m. Friday. The accident was investigated by Deputy Jenna Ferrando and Sgt. Eric Seppala.

Shawn Micheal Koegl, 30, of Alleghany Road, Attica, is charged with: DWI; driver view obstructed; possession of an open container; failure to keep right; and uninspected motor vehicle. Koegle was arrested following an investigation by deputies Mathew Clor and Eric Meyer into an accident at 2:02 a.m. Saturday on Route 77, Darien.

Passiona C. McConnell, 39, of Bank Street, Batavia, is charged with a curfew violation under the Batavia Municipal Code. McConnell was charged after her underage son was located in public after curfew. The youth was located at 12:59 a.m., Oct. 7, in the area of 20 Main St., Batavia, by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Michael J. Henry, 50, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with disorderly conduct. Henry allegedly refused a lawful order by police to disperse at 10:45 p.m. Saturday while at Van Detta Stadium. Henry was arrested by officers Frank Klimjack and Stephen Cronmiller.

Joseph R. Paner, 37, of Cheekwood Drive, Cheektowaga, is charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs. Paner's vehicle was located after a complaint at 9:27 p.m. Saturday on Genesee Street, Pembroke, of a vehicle being operated erratically. Deputy Ryan DeLong initiated a traffic stop. Assisting in the investigation was Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello and Deputy Eric Meyer.

John M. Lippold, 42, of Bethany, is charged with DWI. Lippold was stopped by State Police in the City of Batavia at 9 a.m. Friday. No further details released. 

October 7, 2017 - 3:11am
posted by Destin Danser in pembroke, Attica, High School Football.

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The Pembroke Dragons hosted The Attica Blue Devils Friday night for their annual homecoming game. The Dragons capitalized on multiple turnovers by the Blue Devils, helping them to secure a convincing 35-20 victory. 

Zach von Kramer rushed 42 times for 322 yards and three touchdowns. Reid Miano was 3-9 for 58 yards and a TD. Jacob Miller had a 23-yard TD reception.

Photos by Destin Danser Photography. To view complete gallery or purchase prints, click here. 

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September 23, 2017 - 8:02am
posted by Steve Ognibene in sports, football, Attica, alexander, news.

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Alexander High School's football team beat Attica on Friday on a night that junior running back Chris McClinic gained 221 yards and scored three touchdowns 20-3.

After four games, McClinic has gained 814 yards on the season and scored 12 touchdowns.

Attica's only score game on a field goal in the second quarter, after that the Trojan defense locked down the home team and Alexander's offense took over.

McClinic scored on a 29-yard run in the second quarter.

In the third, the Trojans forced a three-and-out to start the half and then the offense engineered a long, clock-consuming drive that ended in a nine-yard run by McClinic.

The Trojans scored again on another long drive dominated by Alexander's offensive line and fullback Mitch Gordon until McClinic closed things out with a 47-yard TD run.

Freshman Terrez Smith gained 54 yards on three carries and Gordon gained 30 to helped the team gain a total of 343 yards on the ground.

On defense, Gordon and Jake Jasen had nine tackles each. Danny Burns had eight.

Alexander is now 4-0 on the season and Attica falls to 2-2.

For more photos to view or purchase click here: http://steveognibenephotography.zenfolio.com/p873488972

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August 22, 2017 - 11:04am
posted by Julia Ferrini in bergen, crime, news, Attica.

The Attica Police Department initiated an investigation into a violation of an order of protection between Juan A. Roman, 39, of Bergen, and a female victim.

A complete stay away order of protection had been issued July 21 by the City of Batavia Court from previous charges of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, assault in the third degree and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation between the defendant and the victim.

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      Juan A. Roman

Roman was charged Aug. 14 with criminal contempt in the first degree – telephone communication, and criminal contempt in the first degree – prior conviction within five years.

An arrest warrant was obtained and Roman was found and taken into custody without incident with the assistance of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. He was arraigned in Wyoming County Court and put in Wyoming County Jail on no bail.

He was in Attica Village Court Monday where he was put back in jail on no bail due to several previous felony convictions, which include:

    • Sept. 5, 2008 – Charged with driving while intoxicated, ticketed with unsafe backing, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, moving from lane unsafely, and consumption of alcohol in the vehicle;

    • Feb. 4, 2009 – Charged with unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, assault in the third degree and petit larceny;

    • March 3, 2011 – Roman accused of dealing cocaine, allegedly selling a quantity of the drug to an undercover agent in Batavia. He was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree;

    • Aug. 30, 2013 – Charged with harassment in the second degree and unlawful possession of marijuana;

    • Jan. 8, 2014 – Charged with harassment in the second degree, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal contempt in the first degree;

    • July 17, 2014 – Charged with three counts of criminal contempt in the second degree;

    • Sept. 9, 2014 – Charged with criminal contempt – violating a stay away order of protection; and

    • July 24 – Charged with promoting prison contraband.

August 4, 2017 - 3:06pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in news, Attica, Attica Rodeo.

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The 60th annual Attica Rodeo kicked off Thursday evening to a small but mighty crowd.

Performances at the rodeo grounds, Exchange Street, Attica, begin at 8 tonight and Saturday – gates open at 6 p.m., with matinee performances Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. – gates open at 11 a.m. and noon, respectively.

Contestants compete in more than eight rodeo events, including bareback and saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, cowgirls breakaway, barrel racking, bull riding and more. Although all performances contain the same events, participants are different.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $8 for children 6 to 12 years old, and free for kids 5 years old and younger.

For more information visit http://www.atticarodeo.us/index.html

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May 15, 2017 - 1:24pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, batavia, Attica.

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Ahhhhh…the senior prom – the date was set, the theme selected, the venue secured, the attire had been picked out for months. And even though it appears that some couples will naturally go to the prom together, Kristy Mell decided she didn’t want to leave things to chance, she was going to ask him. But Kristy decided to ask him in a creative way.

Kristy and Bo White are both seniors at Attica High School, who attended their final prom Friday night. 

On April 6, Kristy and Bo, who, as they admit, are huge Taco Bell fans, were enjoying a meal at the Batavia restaurant when Kristy asked Bo to the prom. Before sitting down to eat their meal, Kristy told Bo she had forgotten something in the car. When he sat down, she went out to retrieve it. When she came back to their table, she was holding a sign that read:

Bo, you are HOT, so, lets TACO Bout Prom? Think outside the Bun. Ingredients: You & Me.

The local franchise group, Hospitality Syracuse Inc., that owns the Batavia Taco Bell was so impressed with their creativity and passion for Taco Bell that they rolled out the red carpet for Bo, Kristy and eight of their friends on prom night.

“For us to be included for the process is awesome,” said Dennis Beutel, Rochester market manager for Hospitality Restaurant Group. “It’s such a big occasion for teens, we are glad we can make it even more memorable. It’s a nice feel good story.”

So on May 12, Bo, Kristy and friends were picked up in a sleek white limousine, courtesy of Taco Bell, and driven to the Batavia restaurant. When the teens arrived, they were greeted by management from the franchise, but also walked a red carpet to the front door. 

The students all received a Taco Bell swag bag loaded with a Taco Bell T-shirt, beach ball, sunglasses, a $25 Taco Bell gift card and more. Additionally, they all enjoyed pre-prom appetizers, courtesy of the establishment, before being whisked off to their prom in Buffalo.

“We are grateful for Kristy and Bo’s passion and love for Taco Bell and are honored to be able to help them celebrate this special day,” said Steve Pinkerton, vice president/owner of Hospitality Syracuse.

According to Kristy’s mom, Kristen Kriger, the pair are always together and she just wanted to do something different.

“We are really surprised they did this,” Kristy said. 

“It’s really cool they did this,” Bo said. “It’s really rad. We’re super stoked.”

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May 12, 2017 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, news, Attica.
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      Leonard Hahn

Leonard E. Hahn IV, who committed his sexual assaults on young children when he was only 17, will spend 10 years in prison and then spend another 20 years on parole, Genesee County Court Judge Chuck Zambito determined this afternoon.

Zambito could have considered Hahn for youthful offender status, but that would have limited his maximum prison term to only two years and then once released, Hahn would not have been required to register as a sex offender.

Hahn, now 18, is clearly a threat to children in the community, Zambito said.

"I think it will be important for the public to know who you are and where you are," Zambito said.

The 10-year term was the maximum number of years Zambito could give Hahn under the terms of the plea arrangement.

The plea saved the victims from being forced to testify and trial.  His guilty plea was connected to a single victim, whom Hahn assaulted in a bathroom even as other people were in the residence, according to Assistant District Attorney Melissa Cianfrini.

The victim, just a child, was traumatized by the rape, Cianfrini said.

"She didn't even understand what was going on," Cianfrini said. "This is going to trouble her for years and years to come."

Defense Attorney Lisa Kroemer  said Hahn regretted his actions -- Hahn didn't speak in court -- but suggested that even he didn't comprehend his crime.

"I understand the seriousness of the crime," Kroemer  said. "I understand that this happened to a young child, but I'm not even sure he understands why this occurred."

The investigation into Hahn's crimes began with a single complaint from a student at school and included law enforcement officials in Genesee and Wyoming counties.

During the investigation, additional children came forward and made similar allegations. 

Hahn was initially charged with multiple counts of rape.

All of the children involved under 11 years old. 

Zambito said he put Hahn on parole for 20 years, the maximum time period available under the law, because Hahn will still be only 28 years old when he gets out of prison.

February 15, 2017 - 3:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, Attica, news.
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      Leonard Hahn

A teen from Le Roy has been charged with multiple counts of rape in the first degree following a joint investigation between Attica PD and the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

The investigation began with a single complaint when a student revealed information about an alleged sexual encounter to a school official in Attica.

During the investigation, additional children came forward and made similar allegations. 

Leonard E. Hahn IV, was subsequently arrested by Attica PD.

Assisting in the investigation were investigators Tim Wescott and John Dehm of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

The victims are all under age 11.

The Justice for Children Advocacy Center in Batavia assisted in the investigation.

Hahn was jailed on $100,000 bail or $200,000 bond. He is being held in Genesee County pending further proceedings in Genesee County and Wyoming County.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact his or her local law enforcement agency.

February 11, 2017 - 8:05am
posted by Destin Danser in alexander, Attica, sports, basketball.

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In Friday night basketball the Alexander Trojans defeated rival Attical Blue Devils 69-56. Alexander pulled ahead from the beginning and never slowed down. Top scorers for Alexander were Matt Geneway with 20 points and Dustin Schmieder with 19 points. 

Photos by Destin Danser Photography. Click Here to view and purchase photos.

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January 5, 2017 - 10:26am
posted by James Burns in sports, basketball, Notre Dame, Attica, rotary tournament.

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Notre Dame’s Lady Irish met Attica at Genesee Community College for the second game of the Batavia Rotary Club Girls Basketball Tournament. Coming into the game, Notre Dame was the favorite, but very quickly the game was in doubt for them as Attica came off the bench and started strong. By the end of the first quarter, Notre Dame had scored just two points on free throws and Attica led by 13 to 2. 

The second quarter was not that much better, even though Notre Dame tripled the amount of points they scored in the first quarter. Half time began with a score of Notre Dame 6 Attica 17.

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Notre Dame's Head Coach Tom McCulley had a short meeting with his team in the locker room and they returned to the court to get ready for the second half. Whatever he said must have been effective because Notre Dame quickly took control of the game at both ends of the court. They were able to score consistently and shut out Attica’s offense. At the end of three quarters, Notre Dame led 23 to 17. 

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Callie McCully (pictured above) led the scoring in the third for Notre Dame and continued the trend into the fourth quarter, ending the night with 15 points. Attica threatened to come back with a few nice plays but was not able to sustain a rally. Final score: Notre Dame 33 Attica 25.

Notre Dame moves on in the tournament to face Cal-Mum Friday. More pictures of the game are here.

For coverage of the Batavia -- Cal-Mum game, click here.

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December 16, 2016 - 5:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, alexander, Attica.

A three-car accident is reported at Route 98 and Prospect Road, Attica.

Unknown injuries.

Alexander fire and ambulance and Attica fire responding. Bennington fire is on standby for its ambulance.

UPDATE 5:41 p.m.: Traffic is being blocked at Route 98 and Buffalo Road. No extrication will be required.

November 26, 2016 - 8:54am
posted by Julia Ferrini in events, rob thompson, Attica, alexander.

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Four grisly murders were committed during an 18-month period between 1922 and 1924 in the tiny hamlet of Linden, near Bethany, between Attica and Batavia. An additional murder in 1917, in which the modus operandi (M.O.) and crime signature were identical, caught the attention of local author Rob Thompson as well. Not an enthusiast of unanswered questions, Thompson began to dig.

“It was a form of criminal reverse engineering,” Thompson said. “In 1917, 1922, 1924 and 1934 six people were butchered and the killer was never caught.”

Frances Kimball, Hattie Whaley, Tom Whaley, Mabel Morse and Ben Phillips in Attica, and “Ruth” in 1917, were all brutally murdered, yet the cases have remained unsolved for close to 100 years. That is until Thompson’s inquisitive mind took him to the Genesee County Historical Society “just to see what they had.”

In his second book on the subject – “The Twisted Tree -- Final Words on the Linden Murders” – Thompson, who will be holding a book signing at the Alexander Fire Department from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, believes he knows the name of the killer.

Thompson’s interest in the Linden murders began with a casual conversation. Sometime during the 1980s a small book – "The Linden Murders...Unsolved" by William F. Brown – was written about the murders, however, Thompson noted that is was a “just a review of the facts of the crime.” 

“I wanted to know why they weren’t solved. I didn’t set out to solve the case, but I wanted to know why...As far as I can tell, the case was never solved because people were getting killed because they knew who the murderer was. I also believe there were a few cover-ups in the case as well.

“I connected ‘Ruth’ to the others by M.O. and signature...nearness to the killer's workplace and all cases being kept together as though there were a link.”

He became interested in the subject because it was something that happened in the area. According to Thompson, the murderer would be considered one of the most prolific serial killers in New York State. Not only because the case was never solved, but because there were at least six – and possibly more – deaths. The murderer is in the top 10 group of serial killers in the state.

“You find little pieces of information and that gives you hope. If you don’t tell the stories, they are going to get lost. History will get buried if you don’t talk about it.”

Studying the existing case files and using modern profiling techniques, Thompson enlisted the help of Mark Safarik, a retired FBI agent and media expert on serial killers. Safarik was host to the NBC Universal show “Killer Instinct” which explored notorious crimes as seen through the eyes of an FBI criminal profiler.

"It was about control. These were not murders committed for financial or sexual gain. He also struck fear into the hearts of the other residents of Linden, likely preventing them from telling authorities enough to result in his arrest.”

While locals were fearful of going to the police, one theory Thompson suggested included a cover-up by the killer's wife, Lorraine, immediate family members and the killer’s doctor, Dr. Bradley. While he suggests all knew of his crimes, they were remiss to go to the authorities.

“I think Dr. Bradley knew Lorraine was messed up her whole life and his thinking may have been ‘am I going to send two women to the electric chair or move on with my life and let the authorities deal with it?’ They (police) knew where the killer was and he was under constant observation. Additionally, how can you convene a Grand Jury without any real hard evidence.”

Thompson’s theory suggests, after the murder of Kimball, the killer had come home and wiped his hands on his wife Lorraine’s dress.

“He transferred the blame onto her when he wiped his bloody hands on her dress.”

When Thompson spoke with Safarik, he went to him with photos and supporting documentation and asked him to give him an idea of the type of person he was looking for.

“To me, it didn’t look like delusional behavior, but had a pattern of behavior. He (the murderer) was cunning, manipulative, glib...he felt like he could get away with things when speaking with authorities. He gave clues. He said he couldn’t fire a pistol but he could fire a rifle, but they didn’t pick up on that. I hit all these points in the research.”

In 1934, Rochester Police Det. John McDonald had said Phillips died when a fire in the bedroom caused the sheetrock to fall on his head. However, the photo of the crime scene shows the man's head is caved in, yet the detective dismissed those injuries to anything other than the falling sheetrock.

“So you had a detective come in and throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing and a DA who shot himself... there were so many conflicting stories, but once I matched up the signatures, I couldn’t help but make the connection.”

Thompson’s background in psychology, schizophrenics specifically, became the backbone to his research. While in Memphis, Tenn., he dealt with the most serious mentally ill people. Thompson called them the “most dangerous you can think of.” He worked in the field for 12 years, handling 50 clients a week.

“They weren’t in prison; they were the unmedicated. My job was to go out and bring them into the system. I worked with the police doing crisis stabilization, identifying the mentally ill. I can identify a pattern. You don’t necessarily need more than an image, a photo of the killer, to get a feel for the person.”

Pointing to one photo he notes the people around the murderer – he is standing in a dominant role, in front of everyone else, the 1924 victim was in the photo, barely seen in the back. Thompson says a photograph will tell you everything.

“It says a lot about a person's personality. Did that person’s personality match anything else about him? What about his hands? They matched the physical genetic deformity that was noted by his doctor.”

Among other clues Thompson found was at the same time Michael’s mother, Sophia, and sister, Julia, went to Detroit to visit another sister in September 1921, several arsons and crimes started to occur in Linden. When Michael was found guilty of those crimes, the judge’s house was set on fire. Witnesses say they saw two people enter the house and saw Michael leaving. Additionally, only two of the murders happened prior to his mother’s death.

Although the victims, witnesses, and the murderer himself have been dead several decades, Thompson believes that his research can contribute to closing the case. While he believes positively that he's identified the murderer, he noted what journalist Dan Hurbeck said about his certainty: “ ‘Don’t use 100 percent, use 98.6 percent.’ When guys like Hurbeck, who sat with Timothy McVeigh and looked into his eyes and knew what it was like to deal with these people said ‘You got it right man. This case is closed.’ I can be pretty confident I came to the right conclusion.”

Thompson’s conclusion stemmed from the killer's signature elements, a blitz attack, trauma to the head, overkill, and arson – Kimbell was hit in the head 22 times with a rock; Ruth’s face was beaten so severely, that to this day her identity is still uncertain; Morse’s head was crushed; and Phillips experienced blunt force trauma to the head.

The tough part was separating it all and putting together the process.

“The most interesting part of it all was discovery. Discovering something new – his marriage certificate, the cover up that Dr. Bradley hid, Julia and Lorraine’s involvement, what they knew but didn’t say. 

“In a small town everybody would have known everybody and they certainly would have known if a stranger got off the train and killed three people. And they would have likely known who the suspect was. There were a lot of gatherings at that time, so people talked.

“On the night of the triple murder, Morse’s son, Howard, who lived in Buffalo, got a call saying ‘you will never see your mother again.’ Then the caller hung up. Who would have had his number? Who would have known about the crime right after it had taken place?”

At one point in the investigation, Morse’s husband, George, was a focus because “Mable was allegedly romancing the younger farm boys.” 

In the end, George was cleared and Howard ended up owning the store, which closed about 26 years ago.

“There is a woman who lives in Linden and her father was born there. When the school closed he would travel to Attica to go to school. She said she remembers her father had said someone from Westinghouse (a factory in Attica) would ask him about the murders in Linden...what’s going on there? She believes it was the killer because he was working for Westinghouse and he knew the train’s schedule. She says her dad had said he was ‘very afraid’ of that man. She also says, that is all ‘makes sense now.’ ”

Thompson holds a college degree in English Literature and a bachelor of science degree in Human Services with practical experience.

“I liked solving puzzles and there is no greater puzzle than the human psyche. And if you can look at a person who is sleeping under a bridge and figure out the reason why – addiction, mental illness, a combination of both. Could the killer have been at that place? We don’t know because we know nothing about the first 27 years of his life.

“My goal is to write a history book that doesn’t read like one. The Linden murders is history. I’d like people to think about it (history) and ask questions. It’s to keep history alive.”

Other books by Thompson include:

    • “The Linden Murders...Solved”

    • “Notorious”

    • “The Prince of Java”

    • “Attica Gateway to the West”

    • “Attica Gateway to the Civil War”

    • “From Hell The Final Days of Jack the Ripper”

    • “They Fell Together” Emory Upton Biography (2017)

    • “The Emperor's Robe” (Ernest Hemingway biography due out 2018)

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November 21, 2016 - 10:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, accident, news, Attica.

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An Attica woman is in critical condition at Strong Memorial Hospital tonight after her 2003 Chevy Trail Blazer hit a large, thick patch of compacted ice on Route 98 in Alexander and then turned sideways and slid into an oak tree.

Lorna Johnson, 53, was the lone occupant in the vehicle.

The SUV struck the tree right in the middle of the driver's side door.

Johnson was reportedly unconscious when first responders arrived on scene. It took more than 30 minutes to get her stabilized in an ambulance before she could be flown to Strong by Mercy Flight.

The patch of ice and compacted snow was at least 50 yards long and an inch or more thick, the result of blowing snow across the highway that melted on the road in the afternoon and then froze as the sun went down.

The SUV traveled off the road another 25 yards or more after leaving the iced area and struck the tree in the front yard of a residence.

The Alexander Fire Department responded, along with the Alexander ambulance, and volunteer firefighters extricated Johnson from her vehicle.

Mercy EMS, the Sheriff's Office and State Police also responded to the scene.

Speed unsafe for conditions may also have been a factor in the accident, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Kyle Krzemien and Sgt. Ron Meides are heading the investigation. Trooper Robert Breidenstein assisted at the scene.

(initial report)

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August 7, 2016 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica Rodeo, Attica, sports, rodeo.

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Being from California, raised by a family with deep roots in Southeastern Colorado, I always enjoy being around cowboys, so it's always fun to spend an afternoon at the Attica Rodeo.

For more rodeo coverage, visit the Wyoming County Free Press.

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June 23, 2016 - 2:45pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, batavia, Attica.

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Charlene Mess was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for the death of her husband Douglas Mess. The sentence was handed down in Wyoming County Court this morning, 14 months after Doug’s body was found stabbed, shot and buried in a manure pile on the farm the couple owned and worked in Attica.

On April 21, 2015, Charlene was charged with: murder in the second degree, a Class A felony; criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, a Class B felony; assault in the first degree, a Class B felony; assault in the second degree, a Class D felony; tampering with physical evidence, a Class E felony; offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a Class E felony; and making a punishable false written statement, a Class A misdemeanor.

On April 28, she pled guilty to manslaughter in the first degree.

Charlene stood, with the help of Assistant Public Defender Greg Kilburn, when asked if she would like to speak before the judge imposed her sentence.

She stood mute.

District Attorney Donald O’Geen reflected on the point, saying that that “reflects the nature of her mind.”

“In a murder case, you don’t ever expect anyone to not at least have remorse, or show some sort of compassion,” O’Geen said. “She refuses to acknowledge what she did. She couldn’t even say she was sorry to the family.”

“You admitted to killing Douglas Mess, the father of your three children,” said Judge Michael Mohun during sentencing. “You caused his death with a gunshot wound to the head. You took him, trussed by rope, to a manure pile and buried him. Law enforcement was told you had no knowledge of his whereabouts...The death of Douglas Mess resonates with the community...with the children that lost their father. The court sentences you to 25 years in prison with five years post-release supervision for the death of Douglas Mess.”

Her face bore an expressionless mask, which a curtain of lomg white hair partially obscured. She walked in with shackles secured around her ankles tethered by chains to the handcuffs around her wrists. In the rows of seats behind her, the hushed murmurs of family and friends of Doug rippled throughout the courtroom in tense anticipation. 

Those affected by the death of the 52-year-old farmer were given an opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing. Laura Scott, Douglas’s older sister, took to the podium.

“The day I got the call, my gut instinct was ‘What did she do?’ But I told myself not to jump to conclusions,” Scott said. “Doug was a good man, a good-hearted and easy-going person. He wouldn’t hurt anyone, especially his sons. It’s been a rough year. They lost their father to a murder and the most difficult part was that their mother did it.

“You had an opportunity to save Doug’s life after you hit him with the pitchfork. You didn’t have to shoot him.”

Scott went on to tell the court about Charlene’s “fits of rage” and “viciousness” toward her sons. 

“I have heard more about the abuse you inflicted on my brother after his murder. Doug would never hit you. Your upbringing made you into the hateful monster that you are. You have no guilt to what you have done. It is horrifying what you’ve done. My brother said you were unfaithful and you had the nerve to be mad?

“I miss my brother’s humor...his bear hugs. I wish he told me, his big sister, the pain that was going on in his life. You are a danger to your sons. I wish you were locked away forever. I ask that you (the court) impose the maximum sentence.”

Thomas Stroud, a good friend to Doug, spoke next.

“The question that has haunted me for the past year is why? Why was it necessary to take his life? Why take a father, brother, uncle, coworker, neighbor...a dear and loyal friend? He gave some much of himself to others. You took so much from so many. Only Charlene and God really knows what happened that night in the barn, everyone else is left with the results, and the boys are left with the financial and emotional impact put on (them) by their own mother.

“Doug’s murder affected both the family and the community,” Stroud said. “Someday Charlene will stand before another judge and she will have to ask God for His mercy and grace. She needs to ask for forgiveness.”

Charlene sat at the defense table with her head hung down, silent, blank, seemingly showing no impact of what Stroud and Scott had to say.

“She definitely loved her animals, so much so that she killed her husband,” O’Geen said. “Shortly before his death, Doug was looking into filing for divorce. He was sick of her alcoholism, her abuse, her lack of help on the farm. The divorce would have caused her to lose her animals and she couldn’t take that.”

The DA went on to outline the events of the evening of April 19, 2015:

Charlene Mess struck Doug three times in the chest with a pitchfork. All of his injuries were incurred while he was alive. She wasn’t in any danger. After he was knocked unconscious, she went to the house, got her gun, put bullets in the gun, went back out into the barn, placed the gun to the back of Doug’s head and shot him. 

She then bound his hands and tied his feet together, she dragged him out of the barn with one of their tractors. She then moved the body with a skidster to the manure pile and buried him. She knew that manure would decompose a body quick. She wanted him to decompose quick so no one would find him. After burying him, she continued on with her chores. Next, she created and fostered a missing persons story.

She went to bed, got up the next day and went about her chores. 

Their son Doug called 9-1-1 April 20 to report his father missing after he failed to show up for work. 

At the same moment she was being interviewed by State Troopers, the whole family was worried about Doug. She was telling the troopers....she said Doug had received a call from his employer Baskin’s Livestock (April 19), left the house and got back around 5 p.m.. She said she was doing her chores and thought Doug was in the lower barn. She went into the house to do some work, came back out to continue milking then went to bed. She had said Doug had not gotten home yet. 

She got up the next morning (April 20) and went about her day. She let the ruse play out for hours while everyone was out looking for him. She didn’t think anyone would find him. He was found – dead, buried in a pile of manure.

“Her behavior from the beginning has been a complete acting job,” O’Geen said. “She faked the childlike behavior. She faked the shaking. She faked it when she was interviewed by two different psychologists. In the probation report, it states that the act was calculated and planned and recommended the maximum sentence of 25 years. The defendant had difficulty putting animals down, yet she had no issue with taking a human life. The District Attorney’s Office asked for a 25-year sentence for the cold, calculated killing of Douglas Mess.”

Defense Attorney Public Defender Greg Killburn asked the court to look at the whole of Charlene’s life. 

“She has worked hard all her life. She’s a law-abiding, hard-working woman. But below the surface there was tension building. Months before the incident she told her doctor that she felt like she was going to explode. The evidence doesn’t show that it (the murder) was planned...that day, the pressure just exploded. We ask that you impose a sentence that represents her life as a whole and ask for the court’s mercy.”

When Mohun handed down the sentence he offered no mercy. An audible sound of gratitude emanated from the courtroom. He told Charlene she took away “a father, a brother, friend and a community member.”

“The sentence was what we had hoped for,” O’Geen said. “It was a horrific crime. Charlene went through extensive measures to hide the body intentionally to get rid of it quickly. When he couldn’t defend himself, she got the gun. The coroner’s report states that the gun was in close contact with his head. She claimed it happened because Doug grabbed her. There was no evidence to suggest violence from him.

"Yes, they may have argued about her alcoholism and not doing her job, but there is nothing to suggest that Doug was violent toward Charlene. The evidence shows that he was abused by her. He wanted out of an abusive relationship. Based on the evidence, the one constant was with animals. It’s interesting that animals were more important than a human life.”

See related: Charlene Mess admits to killing her husband Douglas Mess

UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: In a statement released by the DA's Office, O'Geen said, "I want to thank the members of the New York State Police, especially the major crime unit, for leading this investigation; along with assistance from members of the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office, the Attica Fire Department, Wyoming County Emergency Management, the Coroner’s Office and the many others who helped bring the Mess family justice in this case. 

"In cases like this, collaboration of resources and cross-agency cooperation is key to the final result. This sentence will not bring Doug back to his family but at least it will keep his killer away from society for a very long time. The family will now go forward remembering Doug as a hardworking, gentle and kind man who was always there for his family and community. I wish them all strength during this difficult time.” 

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