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Derek Lucas

Indiana man indicted in Allen slaying
 Justin Story  / 

SCOTTSVILLE – An Indiana man has been indicted in Allen County on murder and other counts in connection with an incident that police believe was a robbery that turned deadly.

Derek Robert Lucas, 21, of Jamestown, Ind., will be arraigned Tuesday in Allen Circuit Court on charges of murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence.

Lucas and two other Indiana residents are accused of being responsible for the death of Justin Wix, 47, whose body was found May 7 outside the camper where he lived at 151 Stinson Lane in Scottsville, near the Tennessee state line.

Wix suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to police.

Sevonte Sumpter-Bey, 20, of Brownsburg, Ind., and a 17-year-old juvenile have also been charged in connection with Wix’s death.

The juvenile was identified last month in court by Kentucky State Police Detective Jonathan Johnson as Rylan Wiles.

Sumpter-Bey and Wiles are incarcerated in Indiana for unrelated offenses, while Lucas is in Allen County Detention Center in Scottsville under a $1 million cash bond.

At Lucas’ preliminary hearing last month in Allen District Court, Johnson said Lucas was “basically the organizer” of the robbery plot and recruited Sumpter-Bey and Wiles to rob Wix.

Johnson said the homicide case had “grown stagnant” with little in the way of leads or suspects until June 9, when a juvenile from Indiana contacted KSP claiming to have information about Wix’s murder.

Johnson and another detective traveled to Indiana to speak with a juvenile, who claimed to have overheard Lucas, Sumpter-Bey and Wiles boast of their involvement in the homicide.

Wiles and Lucas invoked their right to an attorney when they were contacted by police, but Sumpter-Bey proved more forthcoming, placing himself, Lucas and Wiles at the scene.

“(Sumpter-Bey) did admit to his part in the murder and robbery,” Johnson said in video footage of the October preliminary hearing. “He indicated that Lucas had traveled to Wix’s house previously and saw that Wix had a pretty substantial amount of money and drugs.”

Lucas was familiar with Wix’s residence from an earlier visit with Sumpter-Bey’s uncle, Johnson said.

Sumpter-Bey detailed to police that he dropped a knife as he kicked open the door to Wix’s camper and did not realize it until he had left the scene.

Police recovered a knife, with Johnson testifying that associates of Wix’s interviewed by police said they did not know Wix to carry a knife.

Sumpter-Bey disclosed that he and Wiles forced their way into the camper, while Wix exited through another door and saw Lucas, Johnson said.

“(Wix) saw Mr. Lucas, recognized him from being there previously, apparently realizes what’s going on and shoots either at Mr. Lucas or up in the air,” Johnson testified, going on to say that Lucas ran back to his vehicle.

Sumpter-Bey identified Wiles as the person who shot Wix, Johnson said.

Wix was wounded by three bullets, one striking him in the buttocks and passing through both thighs, another entering his back and a third entering his front below his rib cage.

Police seized about an ounce of methamphetamine from Wix’s residence, Johnson said.

In an arrest warrant, Johnson said that Sumpter-Bey claimed that a gun was taken from Wix’s possession after the incident, and that firearm, along with the gun used to shoot Wix, were thrown in a creek in Indiana.

Police talked to a neighbor who claimed to have heard gunshots early in the morning of May 7, but saw no activity when she looked toward Wix’s residence, situated across a field about 300 yards from her window, Johnson said.

Wix’s body was found by a man who had previously arranged to trade vehicles with him. That person contacted a relative of Wix’s, and his ex-wife called 911 after going to the property and seeing the body, Johnson said.

A cellphone number registered to Lucas pinged at a cell tower near Wix’s residence on the day of the slaying and a camera at a toll bridge spanning the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana photographed a car registered to Lucas crossing into and out of Kentucky on the morning of Wix’s death, Johnson said.

Lucas was charged initially with murder and first-degree robbery at the time of his arrest. The grand jury added the burglary and tampering charges.

Franklin’s downtown museum of local history opens
 Caroline Eggers  / 

FRANKLIN – From toy firetrucks and 150-year-old horse liniment to a 1931 Franklin-Simpson High School class portrait, the newly reopened Simpson County Archives and Museum is a potpourri of local artifacts.

There’s an old projector from the Franklin Drive-In, hand-stitched frocks, a 1930s fire engine and stained glass crafted by Max Doty of Gallery on the Square. There’s a flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes – Kentucky was the 15th state to join the Union – and there’s an operational 1,200-pound capacity elevator that once lifted Ford Model Ts.

“It’s unusual, a one-of-a-kind for the state,” said James Henry Snider, president of the Simpson County Historical Society, which launched the effort to expand its museum about 10 years ago.

The museum formerly resided across the street in the old jailhouse and former jailer’s residence, which now displays Civil War memorabilia, an ornate square piano and a vintage-modeled kitchen.

In June, the historical society officially picked up the keys to the space across the street – 10,000 square feet at 207 N. College St., which once housed a Ford-focused garage, a sewing factory and even dog shows. It required significant renovations. Eric Vaughn, the Simpson County jailer, helped oversee some of the building work, which was largely carried out by inmates at the Simpson County Detention Center.

For months, they installed drywall, sanded floors, painted, set up plumbing and wired electricity. While stripping the floors, the workers found car parts, buttons and needles from the facility’s previous lives. They’re now sitting in display cases.

“You name it, they did about all of it,” Vaughn said.

In the past decade, the detention center has been involved in countless community projects, which generally provide a multitude of benefits for the residents while saving the city and county potentially millions of dollars, according to Vaughn.

Vaughn thinks the museum was especially rewarding for the inmates to be a part of, and he’s confident the community will appreciate the facility.

“It is just years and years and years of our history,” Vaughn said. “It’s a very heartfelt tribute to our community,” which he described as an 18,000-member family that takes care of one another.

Essentially, the museum is a room full of donations from local individuals, companies and the charitable gaming industry. Many older folks have antiques or memorabilia that they don’t want to throw away – and that their children don’t want – so they seek out the historical society.

“Almost every day someone is coming in asking if they can drop off stuff,” Snider said. The amount of donations will easily allow the museum to store about a third of its belongings in storage for rotating exhibits.

Several pieces, including the collection of shiny toy firetrucks, belonged to Snider. “I’m not a hoarder, I’m just a saver,” he insisted.

The Simpson County Historical Society serves as a one-stop shop for the community’s investigative needs. In addition to the knickknacks, the museum holds local history books, newspaper microfilm, computers with access to the websites ancestry.com and newspapers.com and a meeting space. When folks need help researching heritage or local history, the city sends them to the society, whose members gladly assist.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. It’s closed Sundays and federal holidays.

So far, Snider feels the museum has been successful. Just in this past year, people from 41 states and eight countries visited the archival site.

“I don’t know how they find Franklin,” Snider said.

Beshear says avoiding national politics fueled Kentucky win

FRANKFORT – Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear said Friday that he won in the red state of Kentucky by distancing himself from national politics and connecting with voters desperate for leaders focused more on their needs and less on “the 24-hour cable news cycle.”

Beshear, who narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Matt Bevin in the closely watched race, also vowed to set a new tone at the top of Kentucky’s government. He said his administration would be “one where we live up to the values we were raised in, that we believe in the golden rule that everybody is our neighbor.”

In a Statehouse interview with The Associated Press, Beshear said the attention he paid to the everyday challenges facing voters helped propel him to victory.

“They’re anxieties that people worry about at the end of the night – whether they’re making enough money to support their kids, whether their kids are getting the type of education that will give them a better, brighter future, whether they can afford to take their families to a doctor when they’re sick,” he said.

Beshear and his running mate, Lt. Gov.-elect Jacqueline Coleman, overcame a strong GOP tide in Kentucky to win. Republicans won the other statewide offices in the Nov. 5 election. Bevin’s combative style, including his feud with teachers over pension and education policies, contributed to the GOP governor’s downfall.

National Democrats hailed Beshear’s victory, along with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ reelection in Louisiana, heading into the 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump campaigned for their GOP opponents with 11th-hour appearances in both states.

But Beshear studiously avoided being drawn into the national political fray, restraining his comments on the prospect of presidential impeachment and other matters during the campaign. Bevin campaigned with a series of nationally prominent Republicans, led by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and tried linking Beshear to liberal national Democrats – a common GOP tactic in conservative-leaning Kentucky.

Beshear, the state’s attorney general and the son of a former governor, cited his detachment from national politics as another reason he was elected.

“I believe that the people of Kentucky and in other parts of the United States are desperate for someone that’s focused on them and not the 24-hour cable news cycle that continues in Washington, D.C.,” he said Friday.

“I believe that we have wandered sometimes further and further away from the day-to-day needs of our people. ... Running on things that a governor can actually do to help the people of Kentucky is one of the main reasons that I’m sitting where I am now.”

Beshear has said he will prioritize public education, health care, job and income growth and public pension protection as governor.

Beshear strongly supports the federal Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion put into place in Kentucky by his father – former two-term Gov. Steve Beshear, who preceded Bevin in office.

Steve Beshear used an executive order to increase the state’s Medicaid rolls by more than 400,000 people to include coverage for able-bodied adults. Medicaid is a joint federal and state health care program for the poor and disabled.

Bevin tried to require some “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients to get a job, go to school or volunteer to keep their benefits but was blocked by a federal judge. Bevin’s administration filed an appeal, but Andy Beshear has vowed to rescind the proposed work requirement, saying it would deprive tens of thousands of people of health coverage and hurt rural hospitals.

Asked about the “Medicare for All” proposals being touted by some Democratic presidential candidates, Andy Beshear said Friday that it “can mean a hundred different things in a hundred different ways.”

“What I believe is that every Kentuckian needs access to affordable, accessible health care,” he said. “And I believe that the private sector often provides that type of health care.”

Beshear waged a nearly four-year feud with Bevin that dominated Kentucky politics. As attorney general, Beshear challenged a series of Bevin’s executive actions. In the highest-profile case, Beshear filed a lawsuit that led Kentucky’s Supreme Court to strike down a Bevin-supported pension law.

Beshear on Friday decried political divisions in Kentucky and across the country, and said he wants to help set a new tone that avoids bitter rancor.

“Governing may be combative sometimes but it doesn’t have to be miserable, and that’s what we’ve seen,” he said. “Let’s get to a point where we can agree and move forward where we agree, but that we can civilly disagree and it doesn’t stop us from doing that next important thing.”