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Category Archives: Community Watch

Help Available for At-Risk Early Learners

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Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania children at risk of falling behind their peers in preschool and kindergarten can get help to prepare them for school.

Early childhood education can give children a huge boost, educators say, but those with physical or developmental disabilities, who are homeless or have parents struggling with addiction, can be at a serious disadvantage.

In Pennsylvania, children are entitled to receive Early Intervention Services, such as speech therapy and specialized instruction, to help them prepare for their first day of school.

And Sean McGrath, an attorney at the Education Law Center, says that can make a big difference.

“There’s a study that has shown that children who receive early intervention, 40 percent of the cohort was actually caught up and did not need special education services once they entered school, compared to a control group,” he states.

Services are available for newborns and children up to age five. Parents who are concerned their children may need help can call 800-692-7288 to get connected to Early Intervention Services.

Any parent can ask for help, but McGrath points out that for younger children, referrals often come from county hospitals that note low birth weight and other possible indicators of the need for help.

“For older children there are fliers, advertisements in public places saying what Early Intervention is and providing the contact information for parents to share,” he explains.

School districts are also required to determine if more services will be needed when a child enters kindergarten and have those services in place on the first day of school.

McGrath adds many parents of eligible children simply don’t know that help is available.

“It’s important for parents to know that this is an entitlement, that they have particular rights in the Early Intervention system,” he stresses.

McGrath says early intervention has been shown to be one of the most effective tools to help children overcome developmental delays and disabilities.

Governor Wolf Appoints Charles Ramsey Chairman of the School Safety and Security Committee July 23, 2018 EDUCATION, 

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf has appointed Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Chairman Charles H. Ramsey as Chairman of the new School Safety and Security Committee. PCCD Acting Executive Director Derin Myers will perform the duties of the committee chairman if Ramsey is unavailable.

“This committee is bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to develop a holistic approach to protecting our students and teachers in communities throughout Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “By working together, we will make our school buildings more secure, improve training for school officials and law enforcement, and ensure that students get the emotional and behavior supports they need.”

In June, Governor Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018 into law, creating a Safe Schools and Security Committee within PCCD. The committee will administer the new $60 million School Safety Fund, created in the 2018-19 state budget.

The committee will award the funding to school districts and other school entities in the form of grants to cover numerous expenses and programs to keep students and teachers safe, including physical building upgrades, security equipment, teacher training, alternative education programs, community violence prevention programs, and special and individualized mentoring programs.

The 17-member committee will also establish best practices when conducting school safety and security assessments for school buildings, trainings and student behavioral health support, as well as issue a survey to school entities to measure school safety and security preparedness.


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A Quarryville man was recently sentenced to 34 years of supervision for sexual abuse of four children.

John Lapp, 55, pleaded guilty in March to 13 crimes, including felony aggravated indecent assault, regarding the behavior that spanned several years, beginning in 1995.

Lancaster County Senior Judge Joseph Madenspacher ordered the following sentence:

  • One to two years in prison;

  • 32 years of probation;

  • Registration under Megan’s Law for life;

  • Abide by sex-offender conditions while on supervision;

The four victims represented that they did not want Lapp to go to prison. One spoke at the hearing.

Judge Madenspacher said he considered that when fashioning a sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick said the victims’ wishes are always of paramount importance, but he also has a duty to protect the public.

Haversick called Lapp a “sexual predator” who abused the girls for years.

The behavior was disclosed to authorities many years after it began.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jonathan Potoka filed charges.


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A convicted drug dealer will serve up to 16 years in prison for a 2017 sale of fentanyl that killed an Elizabethtown man.

Tyler S. Bobola, 22, pleaded guilty in April to felony drug delivery resulting in death and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

On Aug. 31, Bobola sold the 22-year-old victim heroin – actually pure fentanyl – and the victim overdosed shortly after at his North Cherry Alley home.

Regarding the endangering charge, police found heroin and fentanyl residue near Bobola’s infant child when they searched Bobola’s South Market Street apartment on Sept. 6.

At a recent hearing in Lancaster County Court, Judge Merrill Spahn Jr. sentenced Bobola to 6 years and 8 months to 16 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Barry Goldman said there are differences between legitimate dealers and individuals who sell drugs solely to support their own drug habits.

Bobola’s operation was profitable and had been going on for years, Goldman said.

Goldman showed Judge Spahn photos of what was found at Bobola’s apartment – about 1,000 bags of heroin/fentanyl and eight cellphones, believed to be used in the drug-dealing operation.

Elizabethtown Borough police Detective Dustin Ryan filed charges.


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(In photo, from left: Salome-Chevere, Ramos-Ocasio, Rosa.)

The collaboration of several Lancaster County law-enforcement agencies led to arrests of three alleged heroin dealers charged with causing the fatal overdose of an Elizabethtown man.

The 37-year-old decedent overdosed on July 2 at his West High Street home. He was pronounced dead at Hershey Medical Center.

An investigation led by Elizabethtown police Detective Dustin Ryan revealed the victim’s direct supplier, Juan M. Rosa, and two other men higher up in the supply chain – Angel Ramos-Ocasio and Erick Salome-Chevere.

All three Lancaster city men are charged with felony drug delivery resulting in death and conspiracy.

Salome-Chevere, 27, believed to be the highest-level dealer of the group, is also charged with felony drug-dealing and related counts. Police found 1,000 bags of heroin-fentanyl at the time of his arrest. He is at Lancaster County Prison on $400,000 bail.

Ramos-Ocasio, 24, and Rosa, 25, are at Lancaster County Prison on $200,000 bail apiece.

Detective Ryan filed charges regarding the death, with assistance in the investigation and arrests by the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, Lancaster city police’s Selective Enforcement Unit, and Ephrata police.

The Lancaster County Drug Task Force charged Salome-Chevere regarding the 1,000 bags.

Assistant District Attorney Barry Goldman approved the charges.

All three men are presumed innocent.

Here is a summation of the investigation:

Detective Ryan went to the West High Street home and learned from another occupant that the decedent obtained the heroin from Rosa. Also, Facebook messages showed contact between Rosa and the decedent.

Detective Ryan and the Drug Task Force arrested Rosa at a location in Lancaster city.

Police later obtained information about Ramos-Ocasio, believed to be Rosa’s supplier. Detective Ryan, the Drug Task Force and Selective Enforcement Unit executed a search warrant in Lancaster city, where Ramos-Ocasio was located along with evidence that linked him to Salome-Chevere.

Salome-Chevere was arrested July 4 during a traffic stop in Ephrata, coordinated by Ephrata police, Detective Ryan and the Drug Task Force.

Salome-Chevere had approximately 1,000 bags of heroin/fentanyl at the time of arrest.

The investigation is ongoing.


Vehicle Theft; Cruelty to Animals in East Lampeter

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On 6/29/2018, the East Lampeter Township Police Department responded to the Rockvale Diner 2472 Lincoln Highway East for a vehicle theft that just occurred. Upon arrival, the victim reported that her green 2002 Ford Explorer had been stolen while she was in the restaurant. The vehicle contained personal property and her dog, a Cairn Terrier. The total value of all property was estimated at $3,000.00.

On 6/30/2018, the victim’s dog was found deceased in the 500 block of Noble Rd., Christiana PA. The dog had apparently been abandoned leading to its death. On 7/3/2018 The Pennsylvania State Police (Avondale) located the stolen vehicle, unoccupied, in Highland Township.

The investigation led to the identification of the suspect as Bryan Joseph DEVOE, 30, of Oxford, PA. Charges were filed against DEVOE on 7/10/2018 for (1) count Theft of Motor Vehicle (F-3), (1) count Theft by Unlawful Taking (M-1), (1) count Cruelty to Animals (M-2).

Sourced: ELTPD

2 Cows Shot Friday Morning In Gap, PA ; 1 Dies, 1 Injured

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At around 3: 30, on the morning of Friday, June 29, 2018 Pennsylvania State Police report that two dairy cows were shot in the area of the 400 block of White Horse Road. One cow died as a result of their injury. The second cow suffered an injury to its mouth as a result of being shot, according to PSP Troop J – Lancaster, PA. Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Kelly Osborne at 717 299 7650.


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The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, along with the numerous agencies and investigators who have contributed to the case over the years, announce charges filed today in the 1992 murder of Christy Mirack.

Lancaster County Detective Christopher Erb charged 49-year-old Raymond Rowe with criminal homicide regarding Mirack’s death.

Rowe, of Whittier Lane, Lancaster, was arrested at his home Monday afternoon. He was arraigned late Monday night and remanded to Lancaster County Prison without bail.

Rowe uses the professional handle, “DJ Freez,” in regards to his entertainment company. That is relevant to the investigation for reasons stated below.

He is presumed innocent.

“To say this is a major development would be quite the understatement. It is a huge step toward providing long-overdue closure for Christy’s family and friends who have spent decades wondering who brutally murdered their loved one,” Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said. “We must also remember this is one step in the process. We all must keep in mind the presumption of innocence for all individuals charged with a crime Pennsylvania. The next steps will be taken in court.”

Lancaster County Detective Larry Martin assisted Detective Erb as lead investigators in the case, with oversight from District Attorney Stedman, First Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Larsen, and Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson.

Mirack, 25, was found dead in her East Lampeter Township townhome on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992. She had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted.

A number of agencies – to include East Lampeter Township police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – investigated the case before the Lancaster County Detectives, who work under District Attorney Craig Stedman, took over jurisdiction in 2016.

During that time, detectives commissioned multiple investigative tactics using DNA evidence left at the murder scene, not previously employed in the case.

Specifically, the DNA evidence was submitted to Parabon NanoLabs and a genotype file was generated.  Using this file, Parabon created a DNA phenotype “composite” of the killer’s attributes, including hair and eye color and skin tone. The phenotype report included visual composites of what the killer would look like at various ages. That data and associated composites were released to the public in November 2017.

Based on Parabon’s recommendation, detectives subsequently authorized Parabon to upload the genotype file to a public, genetic genealogy database, which resulted in matches to relatives of Raymond Rowe. Parabon’s genealogical research determined that Rowe was a “strong viable suspect.”

On May 31, investigators obtained DNA surreptitiously from Rowe, from chewing gum and a water bottle Rowe used while working as a disc jockey at an event at Smoketown Elementary School.

That DNA was submitted to a Pennsylvania State Police crime lab. Testing revealed a match between that DNA and DNA found on multiple locations of Mirack’s person and on carpet underneath her dead body.

“We really cannot give enough credit to Parabon NanoLabs for the work they did which proved absolutely crucial to filing this charge,” District Attorney Stedman said. “Without their work and expertise, quite frankly, we would not be standing here today with the alleged killer of Christy Mirack charged and in custody.”

The following is additional background on the crime and more a detailed narrative of investigative steps taken:

Mirack, a teacher, was found on the morning of Dec. 21, 1992, when she did not report to school. A staff member of the school went to her home and found her on the floor of her living room. The staff member went to a neighboring home and called 9-1-1.

First-responders arrived and determined Mirack was deceased. She was wearing a coat and gloves, indicating she was leaving for work when she was confronted by an intruder. A wooden cutting board, a weapon used in the killing, was near Mirack’s body.

Mirack’s roommate told police that she left about 7 a.m. for work and that Mirack was still home at that time. Mirack typically left for work about 7:30 a.m., the roommate told police. The roommate reported that Mirack was getting ready for work that day, as she would any other day.

Also, two neighbors in the housing community told police they were walking near Mirack’s home that morning and heard a high-pitched, unexpected scream from the home between 7:10 and 7:20 a.m.

A day after Mirack was found, a forensic pathologist performed an autopsy and determined:

  • There was severe blunt force trauma to Mirack’s neck, back, upper chest and face;

  • Mirack sustained bruising, her jaw was fractured, and she had been strangled;

  • There was evidence that Mirack was sexually assaulted, and numerous sample swabs were collected;

Mirack’s death was ruled a homicide, caused by strangulation.

“We are not at a point where we are discussing or speculating about a motive. Considering the time that has past, some specific questions about motive might never be answered publicly,” District Attorney Stedman said. “I can say, in consideration of all the information and evidence – to include the DNA found at the scene – we know that this defendant raped and brutally murdered Christy Mirack.”

DNA collected from Mirack’s person and the scene was submitted to the PSP lab, where a DNA profile was generated. That profile was entered into a national database, but did not result in a match.

In 2016, when Lancaster County Detectives had jurisdiction of the case, they consulted with Parabon NanoLabs.

Following the phenotype work and genetic genealogy testing of the same DNA, Parabon submitted the following information to Lancaster County Detectives on May 14, 2018:

  • Matches had been made in the case from the suspect sample submitted;

  • The matches were of relatives of the suspect, who had voluntarily submitted their DNA to a publically-available genealogy database;

  • Parabon’s head genealogist, CeCe Moore, conducted the detailed ancestral and genealogical analysis of this submission and determined that Raymond C. Rowe was a strong candidate source of the unknown DNA found at the crime scene.

Regarding the comparison between Rowe’s DNA (collected at the Smoketown Elementary event) and the DNA found at the crime scene, state police lab experts stated there is:

  • A 1 in 200 octillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, of the Caucasian population;

  • A 1 in 15 nonillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, from the African American population;

  • A 1 in 74 octillion chance it was a person, not Rowe, from the Hispanic population.


Source: Lancaster County DA’s Office


PA Kids Make Gains, But Census Undercount Could Hinder Progress

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By: Andrea Sears

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The latest figures on the well-being of children show Pennsylvania ranks 17th in the nation, but children’s advocates fear trouble ahead.

In the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book, the Keystone State showed improvement in eight of 16 categories covering economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

But Laura Speer, the foundation’s associate director for policy reform and advocacy, is concerned that including a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census will discourage immigrants from participating and lead to an under-count of young children, endangering federal funding of programs affecting children.

“All people, including kids, have the right to be counted and represented,” Speer said. “But without any real political or economic power, kids rely on adults to protect and advocate for them, and they can’t fill out the census forms.”

Census figures are used to determine levels of federal support for child-focused programs, from school lunches to children’s health insurance.

According to Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, those programs are especially important to children living in low-income families.

“One in five children in our state, 20 percent of the kids, is still living in poverty,” said Benso, “and connected to that ends up being, oftentimes, a lack of opportunity.”

She added that nearly one out of every six children in Pennsylvania is at risk of being overlooked in the upcoming census count.

With more than 14 million children living in poverty nationwide, and more than 880,000 in Pennsylvania, Speer stressed getting the numbers right is critical.

“We want to do right by all kids and make sure that they have strong families, strong communities and the opportunities that will help them to thrive,” she said. “And many of the trends that we’re seeing are really good, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

While the percentage of Pennsylvania children living in poverty has declined, the number living in high-poverty neighborhoods has increased.


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photo/ LCBoP

“With great sadness and regret we note the passing of Joe Geesey, Captain of Detectives (retired).

Joe Geesey was hired by the Lancaster City Police in 1958. He attended the Police Academy at the PSP Academy in Hershey that year.

(1958 file photo at time of hire)/LCBoP


Capt. Geesey had attended classes as Millersville State College in 1954 but his pursuit of a degree was put on hold as he raised a family and underwent a long and successful career with Lancaster City. He re-enrolled at Millersville in 1970 and obtained his Bachelors Degree in Sociology in 1974.

During his career as a Patrol Officer, Geesey received numerous Commendations and letters of appreciation for his work. Joe Geesey went to work in the Detective Division and worked his way through the ranks. In 1967 he attended a Intercounty Detectives School that was hosted by the PA Chiefs of Police and taught by the FBI.

In 1985 Geesey was appointed as Captain of Detectives and he remained there until his retirement from Lancaster City in July 1992. Geesey was not finished with a career in Law Enforcement as he went on to work for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office as a Detective until he retired in 2012. Capt. Geesey’s personnel file is filled with letters of appreciation from victims, family members of victims, business owners, civic associations, Law Enforcement agencies, elected officials citizens and more. Joe Geesey was a tenacious investigator and was willing to pass on his knowledge and expertise by speaking to many groups on a variety of law enforcement topics.

Joseph Geesey had a tremendous impact on Law Enforcement in Lancaster City and Lancaster County for many decades. Our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain Joseph Paul Geesey. “…


Lancaster Bureau of Police