Pat Vaughn, above, closes her eyes and remembers as she talks about the time five years ago when she was awaken in her Ledbetter home by a burglar as he was searching through the drawers in a nightstand next to the bed where she was sleeping. She said he was right by her head when she woke up from a deep slumber. She talked about how that experience had changed her life.
Crime changes perception of community
By Loyd Ford
(Feature originally ran in The Lake News 7-11-12)
LEDBETTER- Early on a recent Friday morning Pat Vaughn closed her eyes and leaned back in the swivel chair at the All About You Salon in Ledbetter as the owner of the firm Loretta Kirkpatrick teased the fresh curls in her hair. But her regular conversation had been broken by a reporter’s question about whether there was a change in the level of crime in Ledbetter.
The memory of the night five years ago when she was awaken by a burglar rummaging through a night stand beside her head as she lay in bed came back instantly.
Mrs. Vaughan and her husband were taken by surprise. She remembered how she awoke from a deep slumber and saw a dark shape on the floor beside here. She said, “I thought at first a dog had gotten in the house.” But her head cleared swiftly and she it wasn’t a dog beside her it was a person.
She cried out to her husband who was still asleep. She said she told him there was someone in the house. He immediately got up and searched for his shotgun and Mrs. Vaughn called for help.
When the police arrived they found the intruder had searched all of the drawers in the bedroom and bathroom perhaps looking for jewelry or drugs. She explained the police showed them how each of the drawers were pulled open just slightly so the burglar could use a pen light and look inside to see if there was anything to steal.
Mrs. Vaughn says that now she and her husband still live in Ledbetter but they look at things differently. They make sure things are locked up and secure. Their world has changed since the time five years ago when they were victimized.
She explained they couldn’t find anything the burglar had taken from their home. However it was clear her sense of security and peace of mind about where she lives had been forever altered. She said, “We feel like we were really lucky.”
The Thursday before Mrs. Vaughn’s appointment at the beauty shop Loretta Kirkpatrick was busy coloring her sister Janet Harmon’s hair and they agreed that crime has increased in Ledbetter. They said new people have moved into the community from different areas and there were more sexual offenders living in the community.
Loretta said the people in Ledbetter was very trusting people but they needed to be more aware about things. She said people living there needed to check websites that tracked sex offenders and other persons convicted of crimes.
Janet said more people came to Ledbetter because the cost of living was cheaper and taxes were cheaper and the community was getting more low income people.
Loretta said when she looked for a place to live in Ledbetter there were places where she wouldn’t locate. She said there were homes with rebel flags in the windows and backyards where the grass had never been mowed. She and her sister grew up in Ledbetter and she still lives there on the northern portion of the community.
There is no Neighborhood Watch program in Ledbetter according to Loretta and Janet. But Loretta said people needed to organize and get more information about what options are available to them. Self defense classes she said would be a good idea.
Loretta says she is very concerned about the kids in the neighborhood. She said people need to be more aware and that they need to go to websites that keep track of offenders. She said there are as many as six or seven sexual offenders in Ledbetter and that a customer of hers gleaned that data from internet listings. She said two of those sex offenders lived in the area close to her business.
Shirley Rudd another regular at the beauty shop has been living in Ledbetter for about 25 years. She said there had been cars broken into last year on her street. She said the changes she would like to see in Ledbetter were for people to start taking care of their homes and keep their dogs from running loose.
The burglary of a number of homes in Ledbetter on Ferren Road and Wilson Loop in Ledbetter last year also got a review by some of the ladies in the beauty shop. It seems almost everyone in Ledbetter has some kind of story to tell about criminal activity in the community.
The story Raymond Green Assistant Manager of Livingston County Livestock Auction has to tell about is a number of break-ins at the sprawling livestock auction barn, the criminal activity didn’t stop until his firm took action. They installed surveillance cameras that covered the sprawling facility and its offices.
Green explained that thieves broke into the office and stole computers and other items and shot up the soft drink machines. He said they mainly destroyed several items in the building, but the cameras installed on the property seemed to have stopped the break-ins at least for now.
Kentucky State Police deny request for information
Crime is every where not just in Ledbetter or Livingston County. However the incidents that have occurred in and near Ledbetter over just the past half dozen years can not be overlooked. This recounting of the most recent criminal investigations by the Kentucky State Police includes just the most violent crimes in the community.
On June 20, 2012 Kentucky State Police denied a request by The Lake News to release information about an on going investigation or prosecution involving an alleged rape of a five-year-old girl by a 12-year-old boy in Ledbetter on or about April 10, 2012. The KPS cited KRS 17.150(2) and 61.878 and KRS 610.320(3) and 610.340 in denying the request. The first statute prevents information from being release about ongoing investigations and the second exempts juvenile law enforcement records from disclosure. The letter said, “However, this information is part of an investigation that is still open, identified as Kentucky State Police case number 01-12-0298; accordingly your request is denied pursuant to KRS 17.150(2) and 61.878(1)(h).”
But there are many other reports that are open records including the following:
• On Friday, January 6, 2012 at about 9:40 p.m. Kentucky State Police received a report of an armed robbery that had occurred at the Minit Mart in Ledbetter. Trooper’s arrived on the scene and determined that a white male, armed with a handgun, had robbed the Minit Mart and took an undetermined amount of money before fleeing the scene.
• On July 25, 2011 Kentucky State Police detectives investigated a shooting that resulted in the deaths of two brothers. The shooting occurred at 103 Taasha Lane in Ledbetter. Gerrid Neihoff shot his brother Garrett Neihoff and then turned the handgun on himself. Gerrid Neihoff died at the scene while his brother Garrett Neihoff died in a Paducah hospital five days later.
• On 07/17/2006 KSP investigated the stabbing death of Margaret S. Anderson. She was found in her home at 173 McCollum Road in Ledbetter by a neighbor. Ms. Anderson was attacked in her residence by an unknown assailant. She had multiple stab wounds to the chest, back, and hands. She died of her wounds inside her home.
• On 06/03/2005 Kentucky State Police began the investigation into the shooting death of Livingston County Deputy Roger Lynch and his assailant Joseph Calendar. But men were found shot to death in the Calendar home located at 347 Gillihan Road on the eastern edge of Ledbetter. Deputy Lynch had been dispatched to the Calendar home on a domestic disturbance call.
• According to published statistics by the Kentucky State Police for the years 2005 through 2010 which is the nearest available date Livingston County had four murders in that time period while Lyon County had two and Crittenden County had none. Perhaps the most shocking statistic is the level of crime against women in Livingston County during this period the KSP investigated 26 rapes. Lyon County had only four and Crittenden County had nine. From 2005 through 2010 Livingston County had eight robberies while Lyon County had only two and Crittenden County had just one. Both Livingston and Lyon County had 36 assault cases while Crittenden had 22 for the years between 2005 and 2010.
It is not uncommon for governmental records to have a delay and the one and a half year lag between the available published records provided by the Kentucky State Police is completely normal. But it is important to point out that nothing about the most recent crimes committed in Ledbetter or Livingston County has be tabulated and released officially. Anyone wanting to look at the crime statistics available for all Kentucky Counties and cities with law enforcement agencies can go to www.kentuckystatepolice.org.