Interview with resigned West Chester cop reveals concern for truthfulness

A West Chester Twp. police officer resigned before she could be disciplined for failing to investigate a report of a possible dead body in a pond at an apartment complex where the body of Alex Enslen was found about a week later.

Enslen, 31, who had been missing since Jan. 31 was found dead in the water March 19 at the Union Station Apartments near Fountains Boulevard. Officer Margaret Clem was at the apartment complex on March 10 on another matter when two maintenance workers apparently told her they had seen what looked like body in the pond, according to township records.

The manager of the apartment building contacted the police on March 21 to report her employees told Clem about a possible body, showed her pictures and offered to take her to the location. She described Clem as being “dismissive” and told her employees the pond had already been thoroughly searched by divers and sonar.

An internal investigation ensued and Police Chief Joel Herzog held an administrative hearing with Clem on April 21 to discuss charges she violated department rules regarding responding to and documenting reports made by the public and failing to activate her body camera.

Clem tendered her resignation at that hearing before disciplinary action could be taken.

“Unfortunately due to circumstances that continue to occur within my personal life, I have found myself in a position in which I believe it is in my best interest to focus on myself and my well-being,” Clem wrote in her resignation letter. “For years I have given everything I have to this department, and even when I had nothing left, I continued to give. I have reached a point now in which this is no longer feasible and I need to take time to better myself.”

The Journal-News obtained tapes of an interview with Clem conducted by two of her supervisors. She was very evasive and originally said she didn’t remember much about the day.

Clem said she doesn’t recall being shown any cell phone photos and only waved hello to a couple people. At one point, she was asked if anyone told her they saw a body in the pond, and she said no. When asked if anybody told her they saw an object in the pond, she said “I don’t believe so.”

“I want to clarify that you are being 100% honest because we’ve had an issue previously when you were spoken to that you were less than truthful,” one of the interviewers told her.

She replied “I don’t remember a lot of that day, I remember bits and pieces,” she said, but then later admitted they did show her a picture and said “but I didn’t see anything on a picture,” and later still said, “I didn’t see anything in the picture that seemed to be cause for concern.”

When asked why she didn’t investigate or report the incident to her supervisors, she said, “I thought they seemed just so casual, everything was just so casual, they seemed like they had places to be, I had places to be.”

Clem, who was hired in July 2017, has received eight performance admonishments for various reasons and served a 24-hour suspension without pay in June 2021. Her personnel file also shows she has received 14 commendations.

The night Enslen went missing he had been to Olde Village Tavern at the corner of Cincinnati-Dayton and Fountain Boulevard and left walking on Cincinnati-Dayton Road. His apartment was nearby on Lakeside Drive.

Police said Enslen and his roommate took an Uber to the bar and Enslen left his wallet and cell phone at home. Police said Enslen was intoxicated when he arrived at the bar.

Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said the situation with Clem “should not reflect negatively on the work of the men and women who serve our community every day.”

“The Chief also immediately spoke with Mr. Enslen’s family to make sure they were aware of the officer’s failure to follow-though and make the report,” she said. “Nothing that happened here would have changed the outcome of Mr. Enslen’s tragic story, but appropriate follow-through could perhaps have answered the family’s questions earlier.”

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