Death investigation stirs controversy

2013-12-18T17:34:00Z 2014-08-20T22:59:44Z Death investigation stirs controversyWENDY MITCHELL Ledger Independent
December 18, 2013 5:34 pm  • 

GEORGETOWN, Ohio | A call to Brown County 911 for assistance after a body was found at 1962 Blue Sky Park Road, near Mount Orab, Dec. 13, turned into a long night of multiple phone calls and frustrations.

According to recordings of calls made to and from Brown County 911 from 4:59 p.m. to after 1 a.m., Dec. 14, Mount Orab Life Squad was called to the residence after a man was found shot there.

Brown County Sheriff's Office was also called to the scene, to determine if there was a safe scene for EMS to enter.

According to Brown County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy John Schadle, three deputies responded to the scene, and escorted an EMS member into the property who determined there were no signs of life in the victim.

“We turned the scene over to the coroner,” Schadle said on Wednesday.

According to records, at least one deputy left the scene at 5:24 p.m., though Schadle said he did not have the time on his report sheet; he did agree that all the deputies left EMS at the scene.

According to EMS officials, deputies had taped off the scene with yellow crime tape and left emergency medical personnel at the property, where others, including the landlord, were also at the scene.

“The situation was an exception to normal,” said Mount Orab LifeSquad Chief Lisa Reeves. “I was not there but I was consulted by the squad because of their feeling that they were not sure if the weapon had been secure, therefore making the scene unsafe.”

A request was made by EMS to have the sheriff's officers return to the scene, which was refused and questions about the reply were to be directed to Schadle.

“Once BCSO left the scene, there was no medical or fire emergency which gave us no jurisdiction at the scene,” Reeves added. “There was also a worry family members of the victim were on their way to the scene.”

With the Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau on her way, a weapon still on the scene and insecurity about safety, EMS notified 911 it was leaving the scene at 5:58.

A desperate call came in to emergency dispatch at 6:02 p.m., from a man outside the residence who said he was worried family members of the victim would arrive before the coroner and without law enforcement there, they were unsure what could happen.

A man can be heard on the call saying, “Just because Judith (Varnau) and (Brown County Sheriff) Dwayne (Wenninger) don't get along, it doesn't mean we can't have a sheriff stay here until the coroner gets here.”

In other calls from 9-1-1, Varnau was also made aware that law enforcement was not there and when she arrived at 6:31 p.m., she requested BCSO return, only to be told by 911 dispatchers that BCSO refused the request.

Varnau requested a local police department response if BCSO would not respond, only to be told that could not be done without authorization from BCSO.

Varnau ultimately made Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little aware of the situation of the scene being taped off by BCSO and a possible unsafe scene for her to enter.

Little requested 911 dispatch to contact Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and have a special investigator come to the scene.

OBCI Investigator Ed Hunter responded to the scene and remained there until after 1 a.m., documenting the scene for the investigation.

According to Schadle, if there is a natural death or a suicide there was no active crime scene and placing crime scene tape up was sufficient to secure the scene until the coroner got there.

According to Schadle, someone at the scene told deputies the man had been depressed and gotten a gun which appeared to have been used in a suicide.

“A suicide is not a crime,” Schadle said.

Schadle said the issues between Varnau and BCSO have created situations that get blown out of proportion every time there is a death investigation.

To listen to the Brown County 911 tapes go to  .

Copyright 2015 Ledger Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. Landlord
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    Landlord - December 13, 2014 11:38 pm
    Today makes one year since Josh was found dead. Looking back on that night I am still in disbelief that the BSO let us down. All my life my father told me the police were good people who help the public. He called them champion of the people. I felt so let down that night as I stood in our driveway with my husband and son, begging for the sheriff to send some to help us when Josh's Mom and Dad arrived. Despite more than one call they refused to return.
  2. swjjj
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    swjjj - March 03, 2014 2:10 pm
    I have dealt with both BCSO and Varnau. The BCSO has lied to me. More than once. Varnau should not allow personal feeling to interfer with her job. BCSO is a family that sticks together right or wrong. And they cover up for that family. The goods one feel like they have to or suffer. They don't know if they will lose a love one or not. Cover ups will get uncovered someday. And Dwayne will have to answer to God on judgement day.Its time for him to be honest and tell the truth.
  3. jean hale heflin
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    jean hale heflin - January 10, 2014 7:18 pm
  4. jean hale heflin
    Report Abuse
    jean hale heflin - January 10, 2014 7:17 pm
    In the defence of the BCS I arrived at my deceased friend connie andersons home to find 2 BCS standing at the door in the rain.They stayed and waited for the coroner Varnue.They did their job And made sure no one went in.They didn't botch it up she my opinion every scene should be worked as a homicide until proven different. SHE WAS THERE AND GONE IN ABOUT AN HOUR WITH MAKING THE CAUSE OF DEATH WRONG.We need something done fast.
  5. browncountyisajoke
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    browncountyisajoke - December 23, 2013 11:58 am
    This is happening more and more the state needs to step in and take care of this problem
  6. James
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    James - December 22, 2013 10:12 am
    Unfourtionatly this will never stop with them. Varnau's do not respect the Sheriff as legit and think they are right. When this happens plus personal reasons the taxpayers get these kind of results and publicity
  7. James
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    James - December 22, 2013 10:05 am
    Plain and simple people. The corners husband has been a thorn in the Sheriff's side for years ! Lawsuits, plotting and planning one thing after another for years. That's a fact. Even when the Supreme Court of Ohio found in the Sheriff's, Varnau still thinks he's right. Now, all the sudden his wife (A gynecologist) runs for corner ????? All the sudden you have all these problems that never existed before. Why would Varnau write such a letter to the Ohio Attorney General as she did ?
  8. mjenkins
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    mjenkins - December 19, 2013 12:04 pm
    Wow this sounds a lot like Aberdeen maybe the "STUPID" politics situation in Aberdeen is contagious, or maybe it was a Brown County wide issue all along. Wasn't there a dumb fight between the judge and the county clerk a couple of years ago over a key and some changed locks?
  9. browncounty22
    Report Abuse
    browncounty22 - December 19, 2013 11:42 am
    Everything I have read states that the responding officers remain at a scene until the corner arrives. This is really starting to be a circus.When an outside agency will not stay as they feel it's not safe. I think it's time to fire the good old boys of Georgetown past time if this is how they are going to treat the citizens of the county they are here to serve and protect.
  10. pappawtom
    Report Abuse
    pappawtom - December 19, 2013 12:54 am
    I have relatives in the area and if someone killed one of them and made it look like a suicide then the sheriff's department would not stay in the area and investigate? Sounds suspicious on their part to me.
  11. Jbradford
    Report Abuse
    Jbradford - December 18, 2013 8:33 pm
    As a concerned citizen, it is now time to remove the sheriff and the coroner. Their dispute has put the citizens of Brown County in jeopardy. The S.O may have gone by the letter of the law but that is not what should have happened.
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