Bill aims at drug dealers’ profits

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — A bill to be introduced in the Ohio Senate Tuesday would make illegal-drug dealers accountable for the damage done by the narcotics they sell.

The Drug Dealer Liability Act, sponsored by state Sen. Bruce Johnson (R., Columbus), would allow anyone harmed by an individual’s drug problem to sue the suppliers and manufacturers of the drug. Mr. Johnson said the bill targets what dealers cherish most: their bank accounts, flashy cars, and expensive mansions.

“There’s an economic reality that, in too many cases, crime pays, and drug trafficking pays,” he said. “We want to remove the economic incentive in drug trafficking.”

The bill would benefit parents, insurance companies, hospitals, or anyone else harmed by an individual’s drug abuse. For example, the bill would let parents of a drug addict sue a dealer for the cost of a drug-rehabilitation program. State hospitals could recover costs in treating babies born addicted to cocaine.

And if an addict overdosed and died, anyone involved in the manufacture, distribution, or sale of the lethal drug could face a multi-million dollar judgment against them.

Similar bills have been passed in 10 other states, including Indiana, Mr. Johnson said.

The bill is important because the threat of jail time isn’t enough to stop most dealers, the senator said. “For many of these traffickers, that price, that risk, may be something they’re willing to take.”

The most famous national proponent of such laws is actor Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker on television’s Mr. O’Connor’s son, Hugh, committed suicide in 1995 after battling a cocaine addiction.

Soon after his son’s death, Mr. O’Connor accused Harry Perzigian, a California songwriter, of being “a partner in murder.” Mr. Perzigian sued Mr. O’Connor for slander; he lost his case in July.

Death row murderer tries to forgo appeals

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

Page 3

COLUMBUS — Murderer Wilford Berry wants to be the first man since 1963 to die in Ohio’s electric chair, and state attorneys told the Ohio Supreme Court yesterday his wish should be granted.

Public defenders, however, said Berry, 35, is mentally ill and appeals on his behalf should continue.

Berry, who killed a Cleveland bakery owner in 1989, is trying to forgo the years of appeals that are required in all death-penalty cases. At issue yesterday before the high court was his mental competence to make such a decision.

“He is saying, ‘I am guilty, I accept my punishment, I know what I’m doing, I know what I want to do,'” said Simon Karas, who argued the case for the attorney general’s office.

J. Joseph Bodine, Jr., who represented the public defender’s office, said three doctors who have examined Berry – two under court order – have agreed that he suffers from a severe mental disorder that makes his thought process rigid.

“He is unable to take in important information and unable to process it,” Mr. Bodine said. “In this case, it gives him a death wish.”

Justice Evelyn Stratton pointed out that Berry had an average IQ, had no hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, and was on no psychotropic medication. The two court-ordered evaluations, despite finding mental disorders, said Berry was competent.

“Where is the clinical evidence?” Justice Stratton asked.

Mr. Bodine said a defense psychologist has found Berry incompetent to withdraw further appeals.

Some justices questioned the efficiency of the legal system if appeals could not be voluntarily avoided. “The whole process begins to look really foolish if that can’t be done,” Justice Paul Pfeifer said.

But defense attorneys said Berry was in no position to determine the course of his appeals.

“The man is sick,” said Greg Meyers, chief counsel of the death penalty unit in the public defender’s office. “You can’t just let a sick man determine his punishment.”

Even mentally competent people should not be allowed to skip the appeals process, Mr. Meyers argued.

“We owe it, before we execute somebody, to check everything out,” he said.

Ohio has not executed anyone since March 15, 1963, when 29-year-old Donald Reinbolt went to the electric chair. The death penalty was reinstated in 1981, but “Old Sparky,” the state’s chair, has not been used since.

“People don’t believe we have a death penalty in Ohio,” Mr. Karas said. “In an appropriate case, it should be used.”

Berry was injured on Sept. 5 when death-row inmates rioted at the Mansfield Correctional Institute. Prison officials said that the riot was inspired in part by the inmates’ anger at Berry’s wishes to end his appeals and be executed.

The court gave no indication when it will rule in the case. Attorneys for both sides said the outcome will be appealed.

Numbers rise for dogfights, illegal pit bulls

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 14

The number of pit bulls owned illegally, and the dogfights in which they star, are on the rise in the Toledo area, Lucas County’s dog warden said.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” Dog Warden Thomas Skeldon said.

For the fourth year in a row, the number of pit bulls seized by the dog warden’s office has increased, Mr. Skeldon said. In 1993, 50 pit bulls were taken from their owners; last year, the number was up to 208.

So far this year, the county has seized about 185 pit bulls, and it’s only September.

Between Thursday and Sunday, the dog warden seized 12 pit bulls in four incidents. In one raid last week at a house at 1698 Avondale Ave., police confiscated veterinary syringes, a high-tech treadmill, and other training equipment – signs the dogs were being prepared for a match.

The number of seizures has increased as gangs have become more involved, Mr. Skeldon said.

Dogfighting is big business; $40,000 or more can change hands in a single night, he said.

Mr. Skeldon estimated there are more than 2,000 pit bulls in Lucas County, and up to three-quarters of them are involved in illegal dogfighting, either as competitors or as breeding stock.

“We just see the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Dogfighting carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. A bill proposed by state Rep. Jack Ford (D., Toledo) would increase those penalties to 18 months and a $5,000 fine. Mr. Skeldon said that would help reduce dogfighting.

It is legal to own a pit bull in Toledo, but dogs must be licensed, vaccinated, and properly confined. Owners must take out a $50,000 insurance policy to cover costs if the dog attacks a human.

In the city limits, dog owners are not allowed to have more than one pit bull at a residence.

Obituary: Walter Crossgrove

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 17

ARCHBOLD — Walter Crossgrove, a farmer who was proud to send all of his children to college after missing high school himself, died of cancer yesterday at his Schrock Drive home. He was 81.

His parents were farmers in the Archbold area, and his hands were needed on the farm when he was young. He always regretted not being able to attend high school, daughter Norma Reynolds said.

“He always said his children were going to have the opportunities he did not,” she said, and all his children attended college.

Though he had other jobs in construction and on the railroad, his life work was farming, his daughter said. He was always ready to help out those less fortunate than him with the products of his land.

“When anyone had a problem paying bills or was hit by rough times, he’d always help them out,” she said. “He’d give them food or money, but always anonymously.”

From 1969 to 1981, he was the head maintenance man at the Fairlawn Haven Nursing Home in Archbold.

He met his wife, Lucille, through a social function at a local church. Last year, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

He is survived by his wife, Lucille; two brothers, Ralph and Chauncey; three sisters, Cora Crossgrove, Mary Schrock, and Laura Baer; two sons, William and Rodney Crossgrove; two daughters, Juliene Wise and Norma Reynolds; nine grandchil dren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Arrangements are pending and are being handled by the Short Funeral Home, Archbold. The family requests tributes to Fairlawn Haven Nursing Home or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Defiance College to replace building

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

Defiance College will build a student union to replace the one damaged in a July 10 fire, the college’s board of trustees decided Saturday.

The new union, which will cost $4 million, will replace the Enders Student Union and should be ready for use by fall 1999, the college’s president said.

“When we analyzed the cost of renovating the old facility, we realized the cost wouldn’t be much higher to build a new union,” Dr. James Harris said.

The facility will be built on a grassy area just west of the Enders building.

It will be about 34,000 square feet, slightly larger than the Enders building.

“It will be the college’s new front door,” Dr. Harris said of the building, which will be on Clinton Street.

The summer fire began in an electrical outlet and did serious damage to the union’s second floor, which was mostly vacant. Parts of the first floor sustained water and smoke damage, officials said.

Officials estimated the damage at $1 million. The building was built in 1958.

The features of the new union have not been decided, but Dr. Harris said it probably will enable the college to use technology for long-distance learning.

Before the fire, the college was considering whether to renovate or rebuild the union as part of the college’s master plan.

Before the fire, officials estimated the union could be renovated for under $2 million. The fire pushed that figure closer to $2.5 million.

The possibility that the old building might have unknown structural damage contributed to the decision to build a union, Dr. Harris said.

No decision has been made on how to finance the new union. Officials hope to break ground on the project early next year and have the facility ready for students in the fall of 1999.

Students are using the parts of the Enders facility that were not damaged by fire. The cafeteria on the first floor, for example, has been cleared by the Defiance County health department and has been serving students since school began last month.

Downtown park rededicated to people’s newspaperman

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday put a name on a small downtown park, rededicating it to Chub DeWolfe, one of Toledo’s most beloved personalities from earlier this century.

William “Chub” DeWolfe was a reporter and columnist in Toledo almost 50 years, spending most of his career at The Blade. His last column was published in The Blade Feb. 10, 1948, the day after he died.

Appropriately, the park is alongside The Blade building on a triangle of land bounded by Huron, Orange, and Beech streets.

Mr. DeWolfe’s homespun charm and positive outlook on life made him a celebrity across northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

“He truly was a man who believed the sun would shine, ultimately, on Toledo,” John Robinson Block, co-publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, said at the rededication. “We must try to perpetuate the memory of those who played a role in the history of this area, and Chub DeWolfe certainly did.”

Two DeWolfe family members – grandson Bill DeWolfe of Colorado and daughter-in-law Fern DeWolfe of Arizona – came to Toledo for the ceremony. Mayor Finkbeiner presented them with proclamations from the city.

“We sure appreciate the thoughts behind getting all this organized,” Bill DeWolfe said. “This was a terrific day.”

Others who spoke included William Block, Jr., co-publisher and president of The Blade, and Toledo Fire Chief Michael Bell.

For more than two decades until his death, Chub DeWolfe wrote “Among the Folks,” a column chronicling the beauty and grace of everyday life in Toledo. It didn’t focus on politics or economic trends, even though Mr. DeWolfe was a former city hall reporter.

Instead, it remembered the kindnesses of court bailiffs, the chill of a winter cold, and the wonders of fishing in northern Michigan. It was for, and about, the common people of Toledo.

“Saw a robin on the lawn the other day,” read one of his columns. “One leg was broken and on the opposite side a wing was broken, too. But that fellow was putting up a game fight. He wobbled along, now and then stopping, turning on a side, and resting. But he was looking forward and kept going on.

“If a robin can do that, and has the will to keep it up, a human being, no matter what his troubles, ought not to give up, should he?”

“Among the Folks” was so popular that some of Mr. DeWolfe’s fan mail was addressed with only his picture – cut out of the newspaper – and the words “Toledo, Ohio.” The mail always would reach him.

He loved to take weekend jaunts around the region in his trusty old cars, named Mike, Minnie, and Marigold. He put thousands of miles on those cars, many of them detailed in his column.

Mr. DeWolfe was a small man. At 4 feet, 11 inches tall, he had to step on something to kiss his 6-foot-tall wife, Fay. His nickname came not from his size, but the chub, a fish he used for bait on his fishing expeditions.

For years, the small plot across from Toledo Fire Station No. 1 was called DeWolfe Park. A monument to Toledo firefighters who died in the line of duty stands there.

But until yesterday, there had never been a sign or plaque declaring the park’s name.

A granite memorial with a plaque on top has Mr. DeWolfe’s likeness etched on the front and a quote from his final column.

A 1945 photo shows Mr. DeWolfe leaning on a picket fence in that park, surveying the land. At the time, he used it as a victory garden, growing corn in the middle of the downtown, his grandson said.

Mayor Finkbeiner applauded Mr. DeWolfe’s practice of only reporting positive news about the area.

“It’s so important to have people build up this community, and that’s what Chub DeWolfe did,” he said.

For people who knew Mr. De Wolfe, the park’s location is a fitting tribute.

“Chub would always park Marigold right up on the curb of the park here,” said Cliff Quinn, a 32-year veteran of The Blade who knew Mr. DeWolfe well and attended yesterday’s ceremony.

“When the police would come down to look at it, someone would yell, ‘Chub, Marigold’s in trouble!’ and he’d rush down to move it.”

On July 10, 1943, Mr. DeWolfe gave his many readers “A Thought for Today: Live, so that when you die nobody will say, ‘Who cares a damn.'”

Yesterday’s ceremony showed Toledo still cares because, as Mr. DeWolfe wrote in his last column, words now engraved on the monument in the park named for him:

“I am a country town reporter. I like people. I dislike none.”

Riverfest visitors recall victim as a paragon of grace

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 10

She never visited the Toledo area, but Princess Diana was a beloved figure around the world. Ohio and Michigan were no exceptions.

“She was beautiful. She did so much for charity. She was a good mother. She was just a great lady,” Madeline Kuhnke, of LaSalle, Mich, said. “I admired her so much.”

At the otherwise joyous RiverFest downtown yesterday, area residents remembered the late princess as a paragon of grace, kindness, and strength.

“She always put people who weren’t able to speak up for themselves first and gave them a voice,” said Medical College of Ohio student Robert Debski, pointing out Diana’s crusades for children and against the use of crippling land mines.

Many were struck hard by the initial press reports, and some refused to believe the beautiful, young princess could really be dead.

“I felt terrible when I heard the news,” said Cindy DeYoung, who was visiting RiverFest from Lambertville with her daughters. “I had actual chills from head to toe.”

The most pressing concern for most was the future of Diana’s two sons, one of whom is in direct line to inherit control of the centuries-old British monarchy.

“I feel awful. She’ll never be able to see her children inherit the throne,” Theresa Jelks of Toledo said.

“That’s the saddest part of all this,” her husband Charles agreed. “The children need their mother. The mother is the foundation of the family.”

Most people interviewed reacted angrily at reports that photographers chasing Diana’s car might have been partially responsible for the accident.

“I was appalled that a picture means so much to these people,” RiverFest volunteer Linda Tracy said. “What’s wrong with this world? Yes, she’s a celebrity and, yes, she’s famous, but she is entitled to have a life of her own.”

“The paparazzi ought to be arrested and locked away for a long time,” said Mary Freimark of Toledo. “There’s a difference between getting a story and stalking. That’s not right.”

But Mr. Jelks said responsibility for the accident must rest with the chauffeur who, according to reports, was driving at more than 60 mph.

“I can’t rightly blame it on the photographers. There’s blame to go around for all parties,” he said. “That speed is a lot of running to get away from a camera.”

But it is clear many Toledo residents saw the princess’s life as an ideal others should try to achieve.

“For women in the world, she set a wonderful example,” Mrs. Jelks said.