Thursday, February 29, 2024

Golden City superintendent hired for Joplin R-8 administrative position

(From Joplin Schools)

Please help us welcome Traci Pattison to Joplin Schools as the Director of Student Services!

Traci is joining Eagle Nation from her current position serving as the Superintendent of Golden City School District. She's also spent time as Director of the Waynesville Career Center, Director of the Lamar Career & Technical Center, Principal of Golden City High School, and Transportation Director for Golden City School District.

“I look forward to building strong community relationships and collaborating with all staff members to enhance student support," said Traci. 

"Together, we can make a positive impact for all students!”
“This is a great time for Traci to join our central office staff,” said Joplin Schools Superintendent Dr. Kerry Sachetta. “She has built an impressive career advocating for students and overseeing large programs. Those skills and her personality will be a great fit for this role, which combines several strategic needs around the district as we work toward improving services for students.”

Missouri House bill takes aim at ‘cesspool’ of meatpacking sludge

By Allison Kite

Between Vallerie Steele, her seven siblings and their children, there’s always a birthday or anniversary to celebrate on the family’s southwest Missouri farm. The summer months are typically a parade of pool parties and barbecues.

Until last year.

(Photo- Denali Water Solutions operates storage basins for meatpacking sludge in Missouri. Legislation in the Missouri House would impose regulations to help rural residents who complain of unbearable smells from the facilities. (USGAO/Wikipedia).

The stench coming from the lagoon across the road from Steele’s home has become unbearable. It holds waste Denali Water Solutions collects from meatpacking plants before spreading it as free fertilizer on farmers’ properties.


The smell from the “cesspool of rotting flesh” has forced the family inside, she said.

“Nobody wants to eat a burger or a hot dog if it smells like rotten crap in the air,” Steele said in an interview with The Independent. “It’s just disgusting.”

She tried to stain her porch three times last summer but couldn’t stand to be outside because of the smell. One of her sons was bullied at school because the stench of the lagoon clung to his clothes. Children at her younger son’s combined elementary and middle school beg their teachers to stay inside during recess.

“It literally burns your lungs, your chest,” she said. “I’m an ICU nurse — like, I know this isn’t normal.”

Steele leads a coalition of southwest Missouri residents fighting for more regulation of Denali’s — and similar — lagoons. She implored state lawmakers last month to pass legislation meant to protect rural neighbors and impose more regulations on wastewater sludge haulers.

And on Thursday, the Missouri House voted 151-2 to pass legislation that would require companies like Denali to have water pollution permits and follow certain design requirements for its facilities.

Facilities like Denali’s would have to be at least 1,000, 2,000 or 4,000 feet from the nearest public building or home depending on the size of the lagoon. And the state would have to establish sampling rules for the basins and require groundwater monitoring in hydrologically sensitive areas.

Sponsored by state Reps. Ed Lewis, a Moberly Republican, and Dirk Deaton, a Noel Republican, the legislation now moves to the Missouri Senate for consideration. The House attached an emergency clause, meaning if it clears the Senate and is signed by the governor the new regulations would go into effect immediately.

Arkansas-based Denali’s communications director, Samuel Liebl, said in a statement that Lewis and Deaton’s bill would add “excessive and unnecessary costs to food manufacturers and would have negative impacts on the state’s economy and businesses.”

“While Denali supports revised regulations focused on transparency, we feel strongly the bill voted on in the Missouri House…this week requires significant revisions,” he said.

Liebl said there was “high demand among farmers for food processing residuals due to their valuable nutrients.”

“Our model allows them to receive them without any added expense, helping keep food costs down for Missouri residents,” he said.

Denali operates three lagoons in McDonald, Newton and Macon counties and built a fourth that has not been filled in Randolph County. Before last fall, it spread meatpacking sludge over 20,000 acres in the state. Farmers that work with Denali can have the sludge spread on their fields as free fertilizer.

But under an agreement with state environmental regulators, the company is currently draining its lagoons until it can obtain a permit to operate.

An abrupt regulatory change

Until last year, Denali had a permit from the Missouri Fertilizer Control Board, which exempted it from having to get a permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. That meant the state’s environmental regulators couldn’t impose any instructions on Denali unless its sludge polluted the state’s waterways, a policy decried by Deaton.

“Nobody seems to know exactly how it got there — when, why and what for and who thought it was a good idea,” he said.


But the fertilizer board last year decided it didn’t have authority over Denali because it provides its sludge for free rather than selling it as a commercial fertilizer. Without a fertilizer permit, Denali had to get a permit from the Department of Natural Resources.

Denali has sued the fertilizer board in an attempt to have its fertilizer permit reinstated.

After the fertilizer board’s decision, Missouri environmental regulators allowed Denali to keep operating in the interim until, in October, the company applied so much sludge to a field just before it rained that regulators reversed course.

Following complaints, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources visited a site where Denali had applied waste and found “standing pools of liquids and solids” and such huge quantities of meatpacking and sewage sludge it covered the vegetation on the fields, according to a document from the state. It was expected to rain in the coming days, meaning the sludge could pollute nearby streams.

Under an agreement the state and Denali reached last month, the company is now prohibited from applying waste to fields in Missouri and must start draining its lagoons. It was also ordered to pay $21,665 in fines.

Until Denali receives permits to resume its operations, it has to haul its waste to a treatment facility or take it out of Missouri and apply it to farmland in another state.

That wasn’t the company’s only violation.

In 2022, it dumped 36 truck loads — or 165,000 gallons — of sludge onto only five acres a day ahead of heavy rains. The waste flowed onto neighboring property and into a waterway.

Denali has received four violations since 2022.

Rural neighbors fight back

Around the same time the state investigated Denali in the fall of 2023, Steele and nearby neighbors sued in an attempt to force regulation of the sludge.

The group — Stop Land Use Our Ground and Environment, or S.L.U.D.G.E — argues the state should be treating Denali as a solid waste business and not allow it to spread the material on individuals’ fields.

Another group called Citizens of Randolph County Against Pollution, or C.R.A.P. is fighting the lagoon Denali constructed in their area but has yet to fill. In September, a judge in that lawsuit prohibited the state from granting a permit to Denali without court permission.

The outcry from neighbors has gotten so bad that one landowner whose field Denali uses to spread the sludge has been charged with four misdemeanor counts of disturbing the peace.

In a probable cause statement filed in the case, an investigator said 10 residents near one of Denali’s lagoons complained about the “noxious and offensive” odor and reported that they couldn’t stand to be outside.

“I have also received statements that the smell interferes with efforts to sell houses, therefore, (affecting) their property values,” the probable cause statement says. “One victim stated ‘we feel like hostages in our own home.’”

Deaton said when he took office in 2019, he was flooded with constituent emails and letters concerned about Denali.

“We oftentimes say we got hundreds of emails. I don’t know about you; sometimes I wonder— did they really get hundreds of emails?” Deaton said in a committee hearing. “Let me tell you, I’m happy to show you. I’ve gotten hundreds of emails, probably over 1,000 at this point.”

Steele, a member of S.L.U.D.G.E, said the odor had exacerbated neighbors’ asthma and caused kids at the nearby baseball fields to throw up behind dugouts.

“If these people had to dump this stuff in their front yard, they wouldn’t do it,” Steele said.

Rep. Tim Taylor, a Republican from Bunceton, questioned a lobbyist for Denali in a hearing last month about the contents of the sludge.

“Tell me why in the world a company that’s looking to make a profit would give away a product for free when they can easily charge even a small amount of money and make money,” Taylor said. “To see that, I can’t see it in any other way, except that ‘as long as we don’t charge for it, nobody’s going to ask any questions.’”

The lawsuit is still pending, and S.L.U.D.G.E.’s lawyer, Stephen Jeffery, is fighting for the ability to take samples of the material. Denali and partnering farmers have not complied with Jeffery’s subpoenas.

Jeffery filed a motion to hold Denali and the farmers in contempt of court for failing to comply with the subpoenas. A hearing on the issue is set for Friday.

John Hoke, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ water protection program, said the material that comes from meatpacking plants that pay Denali to haul away waste was tested for nutrients and heavy metals under the fertilizer control board.

But once the materials are combined in Denali’s lagoons, it’s less clear what the total composition is.


“You need to know what nutrients are in that material before you land apply to make sure you’re not causing any negative impacts to the soils,” Hoke said, adding that enhanced monitoring was included as a provision in Denali’s pending permits.

Lewis implored colleagues Thursday to adopt his legislation imposing regulations on Denali and to do so with an emergency clause to allow the bill to take effect quickly.

“It’ll definitely secure our food supply, make that safer,” Lewis said, “but it will also make the rivers and the streams of Missouri safer.”

Allegation: Carthage man possessed child porn, secretly videoed 11-year-old girl in shower

A Carthage man who was charged with eight counts of invasion of privacy after allegedly putting a camera in the community shower room at the Tarzan Zerbini circus is facing new felony charges.

Uriah Behl (DOB 1985) was charged with sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography and once again, part of the charge is related to a camera that was placed in a shower and was discovered during the investigation into the original charges against Behl.

From the probable cause statement:

On 02-21-2024, I Detective Trenton Greene, conducted data extractions from three electronic devices belonging to Uriah Behl for an ongoing investigation related to invasion of privacy crimes. 

While reviewing one of the devices, I found the following: 

- 161 still images of young (mostly female) juvenile victims of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). These juvenile victims were very young in age and appearing to be prepubescent, exposing their genitals in a sexual nature as well as some of the images, the victims were performing sexual acts and getting sexually abused. 

The estimated age range is from 4 years of age to 10+ years of age. The images were saved within the “cache” of the phone which means the suspect had visited various websites and viewed the images. 

- A video that Uriah took of an 11-year-old female juvenile (VICTIM #1) taking a shower in a private bathroom with her mother, WITNESS #1. VICTIM #1 was fully nude, with her breasts and genitals seen throughout the video. The video is 37 minute and 18 second video in duration and was time stamped on 11-12-2023 @ 2015 hrs. 

Uriah had hidden the phone between the wall and carpet of the bathroom and was on video placing it there. Due to the suspect having CSAM on his device, it’s suspected he was using the video for sexual gratification.

More information can be found at the link below:

The Turner Report: Carthage man faces eight felony charges after cell phone records videos in Tarzan Zerbini Circus shower (

Carthage man charged with two counts of rape

The Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office filed two rape charges against a Carthage man today and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to the probable cause statement, Jose Cortez-Bamaca (DOB 1988) forcibly raped a woman who lived in the same residence where he lived twice in December.

From the probable cause:

CORTEZ-BAMACA told VICTIM1 she could not tell anyone because they would not believe her and he could get the paperwork to help keep her quiet because Jasper County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) Deputies are in his family. 

VICTIM1 disclosed CORTEZ BAMACA made multiple more attempts to rape her in January and she was able to be around people or she would wear feminine hygiene products to make CORTEZ-BAMACA believe she was on her period so he would not have sex with her. 

VICTIM1 had to move from the residence due to the multiple rape attempts and CORTEZ-BAMACA daily groping her breast, buttocks, and vagina after her repeatedly telling him to stop daily. 

 During a subsequent interview with CORTEZ-BAMACA, he corroborates VICTIM1’s story and dates. He admitted to having sex with her when she was in a towel and just getting out of the shower. He corroborated her timeline of events as to when she moved in and moved out. He, however, denied using force to have sex with her.  

The case was investigated by the Carthage Police Department.

Joplin man charged with receiving, distributing child porn, tells FBI he's a pedophile

A 22-year-old Joplin man was charged Wednesday with receiving and distributing child pornography and is being held without bond in the Greene County Jail.

The probable cause affidavit indicates Reagan Elijah Garcia distributed photos of family members, attempted to destroy a phone that had 100 child pornography files and told the FBI that he was a pedophile.

From the affidavit:

While attempting to locate GARCIA, this Affiant was informed by FBI- WFO that, on or about February 21,2024, Kik user bopit2start had reengaged in conversation with the UC. The February 2024 conversations were also conducted using the Sessions encrypted messaging platform. 

During these conversations, GARCIA distributed multiple files of suspected child pornography to the UC, depicting prepubescent female children being sexually abused in various ways, including anal intercourse. 

In one of the images, the child is depicted with various restraint devices being utilized on the child. In the text conversation, GARCIA admitted to the UC that he had sexually assaulted a female child within the past couple of days. 

On February 28, 2024, a federal search warrant was executed on GARCIA's residence, located in Newton County, Missouri, also within the Western District of Missouri. 

As agents were clearing GARCIA's residence, they came into contact with GARCIA in a side room of the residence. GARCIA was escorted outside the residence and patted down for weapons by FBI Special Agent (SA) Issac McPheeters. 

As SA McPheeters began patting GARCIA down, GARCIA began actively resisting. While he was resisting, GARCIA was holding a cellular telephone, which SA McPheeters was able to take from GARCIA and place on the ground. 

Even after the phone was placed on the ground, GARCIA's hands remained clasped in front of him at the waist and appeared to be attempting to break an item with his hands. GARCIA was given repeated commands to stop resisting, and to put his hands behind his back. GARCIA refused to do so, and was taken to the ground, with his hands and arms underneath him. He repeatedly refused to obey commands to put his arms behind his back. 

Multiple agents and TFOs assisted in forcing GARCIA's hands and arms behind his back and placing GARCIA into handcuffs. After being restrained, he was returned to his feet, and placed in this Affiant's assigned vehicle for an interview. 

A subsequent search of the immediate area where the struggle with GARCIA occurred revealed multiple broken pieces of a microSD card. 

In its current state, the microSD card is unable to be forensically examined. Also, as a result of the struggle, SA McPheeters suffered cuts and abrasions to his hands. 

During a post-Miranda interview, GARCIA admitted to destroying the microSD card in an attempt to conceal his collection of child pornography that was stored on the device.

He was asked how much child pornography was on the SD card, and he said possibly 100 files. He added that they may have been 60 images and 40 video files on the microSD card. 

GARCIA admitted to searching for child sexual abuse material for many years and would masturbate while watching it. He said he utilized multiple messaging platforms to communicate with other individuals who also had a sexual interest in children. 

He identified himself as a "pedo" or "pedophile" during the interview. 

He claimed he had never physically touched any child when he was an adult, and denied producing images of child pornography. However, he did state that he told multiple individuals that he was responsible for producing these images. GARCIA was asked to identify the photograph that depicted the small female child sitting next to the adult that he sent the UC during their January 2024 Session chat. GARCIA identified the child as a family member's child and noted that he was also depicted in the image. 

Carl Junction man sentenced to 12 years on meth, weapons charges

During a sentencing hearing this afternoon in U. S. District Court in Springfield, a Carl Junction man was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Chet Edwin Mercer, 34, was sentenced to seven years on a methamphetamine possession charge and five years on a illegal firearm possesson charge with the sentences to run consecutively. Following his sentence, Mercer will be on supervised probation for five years.

A charge of illegal interstate transport of firearms was dismissed.

Mercer's arrest came following a 2021 investigation by the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team.

More details can be found at the link below.

Mike Landis, Mike Woolston among those filing for Western District Commissioner

Joplin Tornado Mayor Mike Woolston and former Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Mike Landis were among those filing for Jasper County Western District Commissioner on the first day of filing.

Ed Scorse and James Pierce also filed for the post.

The incumbent, Darieus Adams is not seeking re-election.

A race has also developed for sheriff with Ethan Snow challenging incumbent Randee Kaiser.

Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Theresa Kenney filed for Jasper County Circuit Court for Division I, along with current Division 5 judge Joseph Hensley. The incumbent is Gayle Crane.

(More information on Jasper County races will be posted later.)

Agenda posted for Joplin City Council meeting

6:00 P.M.


Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Police Department 2024 Goals And Initiatives


Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


News From The Public Information Office


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Mary Price Requested To Speak On Fiscal Responsibility & Safety To Citizens


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



AN ORDINANCE providing to vacate part of an alley way, lying on property described as the SE Corner of 32nd St and Connecticut Ave., City of Joplin, Newton County, Missouri.




AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2022-274, passed by the Council of the City of  Joplin, Missouri, August 1, 2022, by removing from District C-3 (Commercial) to District M-2 (Heavy Industrial) property as described below and located at the SW Corner of 20th and Prosperity Ave. 


Consent Agenda


Minutes Of The February 20, 2024, Joplin City Council Meeting



AN ORDINANCE approving a contract by and between the City of Joplin and Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) to provide Professional Administrative Services and Technical Assistance for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Community Revitalization Program; authorizing the City Manager to execute said contract by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.

  1. CB2024-256.PDF


AN ORDINANCE approving a Recruitment Incentive Program designed to attract qualified candidates for vacant positions at the City of Joplin; amending the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 as adopted by Ordinance 2023-158 on October 16, 2023; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.




Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE    amending the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 as adopted by Ordinance 2023-158 on October 16, 2023, to adjust appropriations and containing an emergency clause.


Ordinances - First Reading



AN ORDINANCE approving the City of Joplin to enter into a construction agreement with Rosetta Construction, LLC in the amount of Two Million Five Hundred Fifty Thousand Six Hundred Twenty-Four and 00/100 Dollars ($2,550,624.00) for the Glendale Parallel Interceptor - Lower Reach project; and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin. 



AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement and work authorization with Burns and McDonnell, Inc., Inc. in the amount of of Sixty-Eight Thousand Four Hundred Twenty Six no/100 Dollars ($68,426) for the 2025 Sewer Rate Study project and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.



AN ORDINANCE amending Chapter 82 – Offenses and Miscellaneous Provisions, Article V – Offenses Against Health and Safety, by enacting a new Section, 82-200, Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance.


Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading



AN ORDINANCE approving an agreement with Satterlee Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Co. in the amount of Five Hundred Ninety-Seven Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty-six and 00/100 DOLLARS ($597,756.00) for Justice Center Water Line Replacement and authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin.


Unfinished Business


New Business

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Statutory sodomy charge filed against Granby man

A statutory sodomy charge was filed against a Granby man today in Newton County Circuit Court.

An arrest warrant was issued for Matthew Norman Glueckert (DOB 1981) with no bond. Glueckert allegedly provided meth to a 15-year-old girl, who was required to perform a sexual act on him, and masturbated in front of her and a 12-year-old girl.

From the probable cause statement:

I spoke to Matthew Gluecker about the allegations. Matthew stated that if his hand was in his pants he was adjusting his hernia, and that all allegations made against are not true. He stated he loves the girls and would never do anything like he is accused of. 


Former Newton County jailer charged with taking bribes, delivering meth to inmates bound over for trial

A former Newton County jailer who allegedly took bribes and delivered meth to inmates waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday in Newton County Circuit Court and was bound over for trial.

According to the probable cause statement, Correy L. Shrum (DOB 1991), accepted $1,700 from an inmate's girlfriend in exchange for delivering meth to her boyfriend.

More information about the case can be found at the link below:

The Turner Report: Newton County jailer charged with taking bribes, delivering meth to inmates (

Joplin man arrested on federal weapons charge

A felon in possession of a firearm charge was filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri against Nathan Ray Spencer, 32, Joplin, following a Joplin Police Department traffic stop on Rangeline.

The allegations against Spencer were spelled out in the arrest information provided by JPD officer Chad Comer, who is also a member of the FBI Task Force.

On or about February 26,2024, JPD Officer Joshua Cahoon was conducting patrol duties near 3500 South Rangeline Road in Joplin, Newton County, within the Westem District of Missouri. Officer Cahoon observed a 2009 Chevrolet 2500 truck he knew to belong to Nathan Ray SPENCER. 

Officer Cahoon believed the window tint on the vehicle was darker than allowed by Missouri law. Officer Cahoon followed the vehicle as it crossed Rangeline Road on 36th Street entering the Sam's Club parking lot located at 3536 Hammons Boulevard in Joplin, Newton County, within the Western District of Missouri. 

Officer Cahoon conducted a stop on the vehicle in the parking lot for the illegal tint and contacted the driver of the vehicle, identified as SPENCER. Officer Cahoon utilized a department issued tint meter to analyze the tint on the vehicle. The tint meter showed the light transmission on SPENCER's vehicle to be at four percent (4%). Missouri law allows for window tinting with a light transmission of thirty-five percent (35%). Therefore, SPENCER's window tint was not Iegal under Missouri law. 

Officer Cahoon was aware of intelligence that SPENCER was armed and selling narcotics. Officer Cahoon requested permission to search the vehicle which SPENCER denied. Officer Cahoon had SPENCER and the sole passenger seated in the front seat passenger seat exit the vehicle. 

Officer Cahoon utilized his department issued K-9 partner to conduct an exterior sniff of the vehicle. Officer Cahoon's K-9 partner alerted to the odor of narcotics in the vehicle and the vehicle was searched. 

While searching the vehicle, Officer Cahoon located a loaded syringe beside the console and driver's seat. The syringe contained a liquid that was later field tested using the TruNarc system. That liquid field tested positive for a mixture of fentanyl and methamphetamine. 

Officer Cahoon located two additional syringes, a cut straw, and a piece of aluminum foil with residue. Officer Cahoon continued to search the vehicle and located inside the center console of the vehicle a brown, Taurus nine-millimeter pistol, model GX4, bearing serial number I GC60831. This firearm was loaded at the time of recovery. 

Officer Cahoon then opened the driver's side rear door and located a bullet resistant vest hanging in the vehicle. On the floorboard between the front and rear seats, Officer Cahoon located a Smith and Wesson nine-millimeter pistol, model M2, bearing serial number NDS68l5. This firearm was also loaded at the time of recovery. 

I have reviewed SPENCER's criminal history in this case. Based on that review, I determined that SPENCER has prior felony convictions for assault in the first degree and armed criminal action which are crimes that are punishable by more than one year in prison under the laws of the state of Missouri. 

Spencer's initial appearance was held today in U. S. District Court in Springfield. A preliminary hearing and detention hearing are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

Sentencing date set for Joplin man for kidnapping conspiracy that led to murder

A 9:30 a.m. April 16 sentencing has been scheduled for a Joplin man for his involvement in a kidnapping conspiracy that led to the murder of Michael James Hall, Joplin, whose decomposing body was discovered during the execution of a search warrant at 3517 Cherry Road in Joplin July 28, 2020.

The search warrant was executed at property owned by Russell Eugene Hurtt, 52,, whose guilty plea was accepted April 11, 2023 during a hearing in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Details of the conspiracy were provided in the initial indictment:

On or about July 4, 2020, through July 6, 2020, HURTT sent text messages, through a cellular phone, to R.B. demanding R.B. provide the name of a male who drove a Dodge truck who assisted her and E.C. to take back a camper that TILTON had stolen from E.C.

HURTT informed R.B. through text messages that people who helped take the trailer back from TILTON were going to get hurt and probably killed, and R.B. might be one of the individuals hurt or killed.

HURTT told R.B. she needed to tell him where he could find the male or his name. R.B. finally disclosed, “All I know he said his name was mike and he was a brother or honky.”

HURTT conveyed that “Ol boy said u need to call him and talk to him on the phone cause ur looking guilty and hiding stuff ” and that R.B. needed to “get that dude to meet u somewhere where he can get him or find out where he can find him thats bottom line.”

HURTT continued to text message R.B. July 9, 2020, and July 12, 2020, indicating that “this shit aint going to stop just keep getting worse” until E.C. and the male were caught by TILTON. Mike was identified as the victim, M.H.

On July 5, 2020, HURTT sent a message via Facebook Messenger to TILTON asking if TILTON wanted HURTT to find “Mike” and TILTON stated “yes.”

On July 5, 2020, TILTON sent a message through Facebook Messenger to M.H. stating, “Whats up let’s finish this. That was lame what you did yesterday I wasn’t impressed at all see when I look her rv I called her and told her I took it and why I toke her shit because. She goes and puts money jarmy. Dills books the same one that was talking to thee fbi trying to set me up. So why you trying to help a rat. you crossed a line there for you will be punished I would have had respect for you if you wodnt have got scared and ran dragjng the rv when you knew I was coming run little scared punk run I will find you you picked the right one.”

On July 7, 2020, TILTON posted comments on his Facebook profile page under the profile name “Freddie TILTON” to M.H.

TILTON posted, “Whats up tough guy were you hiding?”

M.H. replied, “In your backyard. Get your Binoculars out.” TILTON then posted, “Well I don’t see you come out and face me like a man.”

TILTON noted that M.H. “f----- up” and he would not stop till he got him.

On July 8, 2020, TILTON sent messages through Facebook Messenger to R.B. stating, “see you are friends with M.H.” and “Im going to shot him in the face when I catch him. he f---ed up.”

On July 8, 2020, WARD sent a message to TILTON through Facebook Messenger stating, “Hey check it out here is that piece of s--- (M.H.) location I was able to reel him in so far.” WARD attached a screen shot of a map location.

On July 14, 2020, WARD picked M.H. up from Joplin, Missouri, and took him to VAUGHAN’s residence in Newton County, Missouri. WARD contacted VAUGHAN using her cellular phone to advise she had “company.”

WARD sent text messages to TILTON advising she had M.H. On July 14, 2020, WARD sent a message to TILTON through Facebook Messenger stating, “Get here I’ve got M.H.”

On or about July 14, 2020, VAUGHAN sent a text message to TILTON stating, “Call me quickly handing [M.H.] to you.”

On or about July 15, 2020, at 12:59:33 a.m. (UTC-5), VAUGHAN sent a text message to TILTON that read, “He’s got 2 guns.” At 2:15:10 a.m. (UTC-5), VAUGHAN sent a text message to TILTON that stated, “OK we’ve got both his guns put up.”

At 3:42:20 a.m. (UTC-5), VAUGHAN sent a text message to TILTON that read, “Guns are secure I’m waiting for you at the bridge.”

On or about July 15, 2020, THOMAS, GIBSON, and TILTON responded to VAUGHAN’s residence in the early morning hours. TILTON, THOMAS, and GIBSON bound M.H.’s hands with handcuffs and duct tape were placed arounds his mouth and other parts of his body.

THOMAS cut M.H. repeatedly with a knife and GIBSON beat M.H. with a club. TILTON shot M.H. in the head. These acts were conducted in VAUGHAN and WARD’s presence, as well as others known and unknown to the Grand Jury. (Note: Additional details provided in Hurtt's plea agreement indicate Thomas also used a blowtorch on Hall and that Tilton killed Hall by shooting him in the head.)

TILTON, THOMAS, GIBSON, VAUGHAN, and WARD cleaned up the blood and damage created during the assault and shooting of M.H. The defendants wrapped M.H.’s body in plastic wrap and transported it to HURTT’s property located in Newton County in a black BMW utilized by TILTON.

On or about July 15, 2020, at 11:11:42 p.m. (UTC-5), TILTON sent a text message to VAUGHAN that read, “You good my friend.”

At 11:16:12 p.m. (UTC-5), VAUGHAN responded, “Were good goon need a dining room set had a few.” The message continues at 11:17:25 p.m., “Holes in it so I burnt the whole thing figure with refinishing the floors it will look better anyway.”

On or about July 16, 2020, at 4:35:16 a.m. (UTC-5), VAUGHAN sent a text message to TILTON that read, “Everyone is good. Need a couple gallons of paint along with the reward for that one. Damn sprayed bleach on the blue Nd it turned lime green.”

On July 28, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant for HURTT’s property based on information that a deceased body was located on the acreage.

Upon attempting to contact occupants of the residence, TILTON fired multiple shots from inside the residence at law enforcement prior to being apprehended. Law enforcement located M.H.’s deceased body approximately 100 to 150 yards away from the residence on the property.

The sentencing for Amy Kay Thomas, 40, Joplin, is scheduled for March 5 in Springfield. Sealed sentencing memorandums from the government and Thomas' attorneys were filed today.

Others who have pleaded guilty in connection with the death of Hall were Freddy Lewis Tilton, 50, Joplin, Lawrence William Vaughan, aka "Scary Larry," 49, Neosho, James B. Gibson, 42, Webb City and Carla Jo Ward, 47, Joplin.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Former East Newton R-6 Board president Mark Knight files for Newton County Commission

Mark Knight, who served on the East Newton R-6 Board of Education for 15 years, including nine as board president, filed for District One Newton County Commissioner today on the first day of filing.

Knight outlined his reasons for running and his qualifications in entries on his campaign Facebook page

I am extremely concerned and distressed about the extreme wastefulness that our commissioners have spent on lawsuits past and present. There has been an astronomical amount of money spent on legal fees due to internal conflicts within the county and not honoring an agreement with the City of Neosho. 

We owe it to the people of Newton County to work together as a team with cooperation and communication. We need to rebuild the trust in our local county officials. 

I have had many years of running a business and owning a business. I have had many years of working with large numbers of employees with extremely successful results. 

I want the county to work harmoniously with administration and employees. I am not a politician, I am a manager and a concerned citizen. I can help the county if given the chance. I am asking for your vote.

A lifelong resident of Newton County. I graduated from East Newton High School in 1975. I continued my education at m Missouri Southern, graduating 1979, majoring in Economics and Finance and Marketing Management. 

After graduating college, I went to work for Teledyne Neosho for the next 32 years. working my way up to General Manager. Upon my departure, I purchased and ran a small business for the next 8 years. I retired as much as one can to the family farm in 2019.

Community Service: I have served our community beginning in 2000 on the East Newton School Board for 15 years, the last nine as Board President. I have also had the privilege of serving and still do as a Commissioner on the Midway Special Road District for the last 18 years.

Family Life: My wife, Martha, and I have 3 boys. I serve as Senior Warden Church of Our Savior, Anglican Church in Joplin, MO for the last 18 years.

Candidates file for Seventh District Congress, Missouri House seats on first day

Seventh District Congressman Eric Burlison will face at least three primary challengers in August and at least two of them will be from Jasper County.

After the first day of filing, Burlison, who is in his first term, will be opposed by Camille Lombardi-Olive, Joplin, John Adair, Carthage, and Audrey Richards, Kimberling City.

Only one Democrat, Missi Hesketh, Forsyth, has filed.

Fourth District

In the 4th District, two candidates filed, incumbent Republican Mark Alford, who is in his first term, and Democrat Jeanette Cass, Niangua.

State Representatives

In the 163rd District, where Rep. Cody Smith is term-limited, two Carthage residents, Zach Hatcher and Cathy Jo Loy, both Republicans, filed.

In the 162nd District, incumbent Republican Bob Bromley was the only one who filed.

Three candidates filed in the 161st District, including two Republicans, incumbent Lane Roberts, Joplin, and Thomas Ross, Joplin, and one Democrat, Shawna Ackerson, Joplin.

Rep. Ben Baker, the Neosho Republican incumbent, is the only person who filed in the 160th District.

Incumbent Republican Dirk Deaton is the only one who has filed in the 159th District.

Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, is the only person who has filed in the 127th District.

Joplin man sentenced to 12 years on child pornography charge

A federal court judge sentenced a Joplin man to 12 years in prison on a child pornography charge during a hearing this morning in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Judge Douglas Harpool also sentenced Robert E. Riggs, 46, to 10 years of supervised release following his imprisonment.

In sentencing memorandums filed last week, the government had asked that Riggs serve 15 years in prison, while Riggs' attorney suggested 10 years would be a proper sentence.

Riggs' crimes were detailed in the government's memorandum:

On February 24, 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) referred 21 Cybertipline Reports (CTR) to the Southwest Missouri Cybercrimes Task Force (SWMCCTF) for further investigation.

The CTRs were generated after 38 images depicting child pornography were discovered in a Dropbox user’s cloud storage folder on January 13, 2022. Dropbox promptly notified NCMEC of the discovery and identified the user as “Robbie Riggs.”

The IP addresses used to access the account were also provided to NCMEC by Dropbox. Task Force Officer (TFO) Brian Martin reviewed the imagery submitted with the CTRs.

Each of the 38 files depicted minors, some as young as five years old, engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including oral and anal sexual intercourse.

On March 1, 2022, SWMCCTF TFO Chip Root obtained a warrant to search the Dropbox account in question from Jasper County, Missouri, Circuit Court Judge Dean Dankelson. Dropbox provided data responsive to the search warrant, which included over 100 images depicting child pornography.
The materials provided by Dropbox also included an image of a billing statement addressed to ROBERT RIGGS at 1405 Katherine Avenue, Joplin, Missouri, a photograph of a prescription bottle with the name ROBERT RIGGS typed upon it along with his address, and several other images linking the Dropbox account to ROBERT RIGGS.