Allen County saw 2nd deadliest homicide year in 2021 with 48 victims, including 9 children

Crime

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — In Allen County, 48 people violently left this earth last year.

While guns took most of their lives, 12 died from stabbings, blunt force trauma or were beaten to death.

The city had 41 homicides, the county had five and New Haven, 2, both of those deaths minors. 

For comparison, 43 people died from homicide in 2020.

Law enforcement and members of groups like Justice Accountability Victim Advocacy, or JAVA, held their breaths at the end of 2021 as the county neared the homicide record of 49, set in 2016.

Violence took the lives of nine minors. Four of them were toddlers; three were teens.

Each deadly parting left families grasping for answers while sorting through funeral arrangements. Homicides leave a hole no amount of earth can fully close.

On June 2, Sarah Zent, 26, and three of her children – Carter, 5, Ashton, 3, and Aubree, 2 – were brutally stabbed multiple times with a knife-like instrument, each small child found next to one another on a bed near their mother. Sarah was also strangled, according to the Allen County Coroner.

Hundreds turned up at a vigil held outside Zent’s home at 2904 Gay St., shocked that such a thing could happen to innocents. 

In August, a block away from the Zent home, a mural was painted on the side of the Unity Barber Shop by artist Teresa Ridley, honoring the victims. Close to a Black Madonna wrapped in red roses, Ridley added four lilies representing Zent and her children.

Zent’s mother, Melanie Fields, found the community’s response “overwhelming. I just feel honored that they thought of my babies enough to add to this beautiful mural,” she said at the dedication.

Cohen Hancz-Barron, 21, at the time of their deaths and a one-time companion of Sarah’s, was charged with murder and will face a jury in an eight-day trial starting May 10.

Six months later, a slight, 9-year-old boy was beaten to death in the space of a couple hours on Dec. 17 at his home on Putnam Street. Cold, limp, with rigor mortis setting in, Elijah Thomas Ross was rushed in the family Jeep to a downtown hospital where emergency workers tried to save him. Early Dec. 18, Elijah was pronounced dead.

His mother, Jenna Miller, 36, and her wife, Alesha “Hood” Miller, 30, were arrested and await formal charges. 

Two vigils on cold December nights were held for Elijah. Neighbors and residents demanded justice for the handsome little boy, now only cherished in photos. 

Many purchased gifts from a Christmas wish list for his two older brothers his aunt, Jess Goodpaster, posted on Facebook. Quickly, a GoFundMe, created by Goodpaster, raised more than the $20,000 goal to cover funeral costs. She called the response “heartwarming.”

Crimes against children grip communities hard, but other homicides drew outpourings of support.

In April, Shane Nguyễn, 55, died of blunt force trauma and was dismembered, his body parts stuffed into black plastic bags.

Mathew J. Cramer, II, 21, and his friend, Jacob Carreon-Hamilton, 20, were driving Nguyen’s van and caught the eye of Sgt. Cary Young on patrol just after 5 a.m. Young pursued them and then made the grisly discovery.

Long-time investigators and detectives at the Allen County Coroner’s office could remember just two cases in recent Fort Wayne history where victims were dismembered.

On Feb. 17, close to 7:30 p.m., Joseph Bossard, 32, argued with three young black men inside the Quick Stop gas station on East State Boulevard, according to a probable cause affidavit.

A few minutes later, Bossard ambushed the three at pump 9, running up on their car and shooting at them. They sped off as he jumped into his pickup truck to pursue them. 

The shocking scene of the three, lying in a snow bank a half mile south on Hobson Road shook the city. In one video circulating on social media, a police officer was seen desperately pumping the chest of one of the victims.

Friends Anderson Retic and Joshua Cooper, both 19, died at the scene. Jaylin Rice, 20, barely survived. Hundreds attended a service for them at City Life next to South Side High School about a week later, not believing their lives were taken in such a senseless manner.

“It’s the very worst case scenario for a family who’s lost someone they love,” said Tesa Helge, Allen County prosecutor for homicide. 

The year ended with 25 people charged with murder and four with attempted murder, Sgt. Tim Hughes, head of the Fort Wayne homicide unit, said. More than 75% of the homicide cases were cleared, but police expect more arrests to come.

2021 homicide list (48 victims):

City of Fort Wayne

Jan. 9
Randolph Bazile, 38, died in a stabbing at Ewing and Wells streets at 3:14 p.m.
Suspect: Arthur Reeves, 3-day trial starts April 12.

Jan. 19
Myquel Middlebrook, 22, was gunned down at Hawthorn Suites on Lima Road at 8:41 a.m.
Suspect: Joseph Rose, convicted in a plea agreement and sentenced to 50 years.

Jan. 27
Selman Delic, 26, shot at 3244 Diplomat Dr. at 2:34 p.m.
Case remains open.

Feb. 14
Heather Hobbs, 37, gunned down at 629 Candlelite Ct. at 1:11 a.m.
Suspect: Tykwan Walker, fugitive on murder warrant.

Feb. 17
Joshua Cooper, 19, and Anderson Retic, 19, both shot at East State Boulevard and Hobson Road at 7:23 p.m.
Suspect: Joseph Bossard, charged. Competency hearing Jan. 10. 

March 19
Joyce Carwile, 59, gunned down at 4403 Alverado Dr. at 9:24 a.m.
Suspect: David Carwile, husband, convicted and sentenced to 80 years.

March 26
John Peterson, 19, shot to death at Vance and Reed, at 10:53 p.m.
Case remains open.

April 20
Jennifer Dray, 40, and Amanda Shroyer, 30, shot at 815 Third St. at 5:14 p.m.
SUSPECTS: Ronald Price, Joshua Dube and Marina Zrnic. Zrnic took a plea deal for attempted robbery. Sentencing is scheduled for March 4. Price has 4-day trial set for Jan. 25. Dube’s 3-day trial starts Feb. 1.

April 25
Shane Nguyễn, 45, was beaten and dismembered in the area of Anthony Boulevard and Lake Avenue at 5:10 a.m.
SUSPECT: Mathew J. Cramer II’s 5-day trial scheduled to begin May 23.

May 2
Roderick Patterson, 25, was stabbed at 2409 Trenton at 3:57 a.m.
SUSPECT: Sierra Marie Hernandez arrested in December. Trial setting Jan. 10.

May 2
Daniel Nolan, 33, was shot at 3502 S. Hanna St. at 5:53 a.m.
SUSPECT: Tony Jackson, 4-day trial begins July 12. 

May 5
Daelon Locke, 23, was shot at 121 St. Marys Avenue at 12:59 a.m.
Case remains open.

May 10
Tiffany Ferris, 35, was beaten and drowned at the Suburban Extended Stay on West Coliseum Boulevard at 8:45 a.m.
SUSPECT: Terry Smith, 3-day trial starts March 8; Ajaylan Shabazz, 4-day trial starts Feb. 22.

May 17
Aiden Clark, 1.5 years, died of blunt force trauma at 2746 Millbrook at 12:30 p.m.
SUSPECT: Shaquille Rowe, 4-day trial starts June 28.

May 22
Candiace Lay, 29, was gunned down at 1327 Green St. at 12:41 a.m.
SUSPECT: Jamarion Thomas, 3-day trial starts Feb. 22. 

June 2
Sarah Zent, 26, and her three children, Carter, 5, Ashton, 3, and Aubree, 2, were stabbed at 2904 Gay Street at 10:43 a.m.
SUSPECT: Cohen Hancz-Barron, 8-day trial starts May 10. 

June 20
Shelby Vonholdt, 20, was shot at 1818 Eileen St. at 6:48 p.m.
SUSPECT: Valerie Hardiek, 4-day trial starts Feb. 8.

Aug. 31
Travis Jones, 40, was gunned down at 4200 Monroe St. at 10 p.m.
Case remains open.

Sept. 14
Gery Rucker, 19, was shot at 2134 Eden St. at 2:36 p.m.
SUSPECT: Derrick Dennis, 5-day trial starts Feb. 7.

Sept. 22
William Erhardt, 37, was shot at 1636 Franklin Ave. at 1:06 a.m.
SUSPECT: John Vires, 3-day trial starts April 12.

Sept. 28
Arlene Weaver Shelton, 61, was shot at 1408 Ventura Lane at 10:51 p.m.
Case remains open.

Oct. 2
Janet Peters, 71, was shot at 4357 Albert Dr. at 1:58 p.m.
SUSPECT: Richard Peters (deceased) Case cleared.

Oct. 12
Johnny Foy III, 39, was shot at 2301 John St. at 10:42 p.m.
Case remains open.

Oct. 17
Benyamin McQuiller and Lige Johnson, were shot at 3126 Wells St. at 8:58 p.m.
Case cleared.

Nov. 5
Tremaine Barnett, 37, was shot in the 5300 block of McClellan St. at 10:45 p.m.
SUSPECT: Robert Dashon James, trial setting on Jan. 10.

Nov. 8
Kenneth Behny, 74, was shot at 3633 Turf Lane at 1:05 p.m.
Case remains open.

Nov. 10
Jonathon Jackson, 22, was shot at 2108 Point West Dr. at 1:26 a.m.
Case remains open.

Nov. 28
Renako Thomas, 34, was shot at 7915 Decatur Road at 10:16 a.m.
SUSPECT: Dakota Waudby, 3-day trial begins May 10.

Dec. 3
Juan Ramirez Jr., 16, and Brendan Cole, 19, were shot at 740 Cumberland Avenue at 2:24 a.m. gun.
SUSPECT: Tre Zwieg, 3-day trial begins May 10. 

Dec. 5
Ayania Coker, 20, at Eckhart and Reed streets at 3:10 p.m. gun
Case remains open.

Dec. 16
Tyler Ondersma, 24, was shot at 1616 Howell St. at 12:21 a.m.
Case remains open.

Dec. 18
Elijah Thomas Ross, 9, was beaten at 824 Putnam St. at 2:05 a.m.
SUSPECTS: Alesha Miller, stepmother, and Jenna Miller, mother, charges filed.

Dec. 23
Alexia Quinn, 33, was shot in the 8700 block of Lima Road at 10:30 p.m.
SUSPECT: Henry C. Myers, Jr., preliminary charges filed. 

Dec. 24
Brittany N. Deck, 30, was shot in the 2300 block of South Lafayette Street at 9 p.m.
SUSPECT: Jacob Chacon, preliminary charges filed.

Allen County

Aug. 13
Hannah Stailey, 18, was gunned down in the 1000 block of Day Lily Drive at 7:45 a.m.
SUSPECT: Levi W. Long, identified as the shooter, also deceased. Case cleared.

Aug. 29
Markese Newman, 19, was stabbed at Schwartz and Eby roads at 8:30 p.m.
SUSPECT: Shane Poe identified himself as stabber. Preliminary charges were filed, then expired.

Nov. 29
Mark A. Long, 50, Lisa Renee Long, 45, and Mahala Long, 15, were all shot at 7118 Cook Road at 9 p.m.
Sam Long, 20, also deceased, was identified as the shooter. Case cleared. 

City of New Haven

Feb. 25
Kaivonni Lynn Vachon, 17 months died of blunt force injuries to abdomen at 6000 Moeller Road at 4 a.m.
SUSPECT: Michael Allen, father. 4-day trial starts Feb. 15. 

Aug. 24
Bryson Leshawn Patterson, Jr., 16, was gunned down at 10600 Seiler Road at 1 p.m.
Charges are pending.

How They Died

Gun 36
Stabbing 7
Blunt Force Trauma/beaten 4
Drowning 1 (also beaten)

BY GENDER

Male 29
Female 19

BY RACE

White 23
Black 22
Hispanic 2
Asian 1

BY QUADRANT (City only)

Northeast 5
Southeast 16
Southwest 5
Northwest15

BY AGE

Children 6
Teens 3
Adults 39

Sources: Allen County Coroner, Fort Wayne Police Department, Remembering Fort Wayne Homicide Victims (Douglas B. Pritchett), JAVA (Justice Accountability Victim Advocacy)

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