Three people have lost their lives due to homicide in Middletown in less than two months. That’s three more than in the entire first six months of 2022.
While officers are always concerned about violence, Middletown Police Maj. Eric Crank said last week the recent uptick in homicides is not a large concern, pointing to quick arrests and efforts to curtail gun violence.
And Crank said, the murder of Jeffrey Fellman allegedly at the hands of his significant other who then allegedly enlisted the help of a man to dismember the body at their Stone Path Drive residence is much different from the street violence tied to many cases across the region.
“All three of our cases are gun-related, but with this last one it goes to show you not all are gang related or drug related. You never know who is living next door,” Crank said. He said through proactive policing including traffic stops and talking with citizens, officers have taken more than 200 illegal guns off the streets this year.
“That’s a pretty average for us in a year — 200 to 300 guns. Maybe people don’t realize that,” Crank said.
On Tuesday night, John Havens walked into the lobby of the Middletown Division of Police with his girlfriend and stated he had dismembered a body. Officers responded to Fellman’s residence in the 5600 block of Stone Path for a welfare check and found the victim on the first floor of the house.
Bonnie Marie Vaughn fled the scene, but was found, arrested and charged with murder, according to Middletown police. Havens is charged with tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.
Vaughn, 59, told police she shot and killed her husband on Monday in the garage of the house, according to court documents. Detectives found shell casings at the scene.
During questioning by detectives, Havens said Vaughn picked him up on Tuesday and asked him if he would help her dispose of a body. When he got to the Stone Path residence, he found Fellman’s body in the garage, according to court documents.
Crank said officers have answered domestic disturbance calls at the residence in the past involving Vaughn and Fellman.
Vaughn is being held in the Middletown City Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond. Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron set Havens’ bond at $15,000. They are scheduled to be back in court next week for preliminary hearings.
“This is one of those shocking crimes that occurs that is very rare,” Crank said.
Although it has happened before in the Middletown.
In 1998, James Lawson killed and dismembered Cheryl Durkin in the basement of his Garfield Street house. Durkin’s torso was thrown in the Great Miami River and found washed up on the bank. The remainder of Durkin’s body was disposed of by Lawson’s mother and sister in wooded areas in the region. Lawson was convicted and is in prison for Durkin’s murder.
On Aug. 1, 22-year-old Denzel Fuller allegedly shot and killed his uncle, Terry Fuller, 42, in the 2100 block of Grand Avenue. He was taken into custody within hours and charge with murder, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability.
Terry Fuller’s fatal shooting was the first homicide of the year for Middletown. Denzel Fuller is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $850,000 bond awaiting trial.
Crank said the shooting centers around the making of a rap video and a car Denzel may have stolen from his uncle.
“Sometimes it is a targeted incident and sometimes an act of passion,” Crank said. “People get worked up, they get angry, especially when it comes to family members, and can’t control it.”
The summer’s third Middletown homicide — the shooting death of Nais McVay on Sept. 13 — remained unsolved last week.
McVay, 24, was fatally shot while sitting in a car at the corner of Fairmount Avenue and Young Street. Family members say he was targeted, and more 20 shell casings were recovered at the scene.
Crank said McVay’s death may have been drug-related, but detectives are still investigating and they are making progress.
There has been an increase in homicides in that past six years, Crank said, “but it is a national issue. Not just here. It’s everywhere. Our detectives have done an outstanding job getting people in custody or at least knowing who did it and looking for evidence to prove it.”