May 2008

These videos and slideshows of the tornadoes that destroyed parts of northeast Iowa on May 25 were taken by storm chasers and regular citizens. Check them out:


Diona England was NOT pleased when the 32 ounce cup of Wild Cherry Pepsi she was holding between her legs started sloshing all over her lap in the Taco Bell drive-thru on Marion Boulevard. She became upset because the lid “wasn’t on tight enough” when it was given to her, according to a report filed with Marion police May 12. England, 29, started swearing at employee Kristina Wyatt and assistant manager Amy Brewster and threw the cup through the drive-up window, police said, splashing them with leftover pop. Nevertheless, they gave England her $8 back for the food. They took down her license plate number as she drove away.

Days later, England was arrested for assault. The moral to this story — put your pop in your car’s drink holders. Seriously. Your lap wasn’t made to hold spillable liquids.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, about 18 drunken drivers and 25 people charged with public intoxication were booked into the Linn County Jail. I’ve always found it amusing that many feel the need to celebrate our country’s landmark holidays by getting drunk and causing trouble.

Mostly people were being rowdy at the bar or at home, nothing new there. But two Cedar Rapids men took the celebratory mood a bit farther. Chad Teslick, 28, decided on Monday that he wanted to trash the new Volkswagen dealership on Blairs Ferry Road in Marion. Police said he broke the glass window out of a door in the dealership’s service area and took a van, plowing it through the closed garage door and then damaging several vehicles in the lot. He was arrested for third-degree burglary and public intoxication. The dealership opened its doors little more than a month ago.

On Saturday, Jeffrey Gremm got into a fight with his Century Cabs driver, Thair Alterbal, as Alterbal was taking him to Marion. In the area of 10th Street and Seventh Avenue, police said Gremm, 44, punched Alterbal while he was driving, and Alterbal punched him back. Gremm ran from the car, but Alterbal caught him and they started fighting again. Gremm was arrested on charges of assault causing bodily injury, fifth-degree theft (for not paying his $20+ cab fare) and, you guessed it, public intoxication.

On Thursday, the search warrant for the home of James Waldron at 1920 Washington Ave. SE was finally filed in court. Waldron, 63, is being charged with second-degree sexual abuse, accused of forcing sex acts on a 5-year-old girl since 2007. The girl was attending an in-home daycare run by Waldron’s wife.

Before I go into what was included in the warrant, I should tell you that I feel it is important for us to share some of the details given in search warrants in cases like this for a few reasons, although they are of such a sordid nature that we would not include them in a story printed in the newspaper. Most importantly, it puts the accusations in context. It also can be useful for parents to know, perhaps helping them find the right questions to ask their children about their caregivers and making sure the environment is healthy.

The girl’s parents went to the police station on April 28 to speak with officers about the alleged abuse, according to the search warrant. The girl told them the day before that Waldron was touching her in a sexual way, and the girl’s older sibling said she saw her little sister under a blanket with James before in a living room chair. The girl described an incident of abuse that happened in that chair while a children’s movie was playing.

Police seized a red swiveling chair from the Waldrons’ living room, 13 children’s video tapes, two blankets and two pairs of white men’s underwear from the house, according to the return to the warrant.

Waldron is set to be arraigned on Tuesday, May 27.

Kelvin X. Louis Jr., 20, better known as “K-Lou” to his clientele, has sold “a lot” of pot out of his father’s apartment at 2981 Ninth St., in Marion, according to a search warrant of his residence. But in early May, police received a tip about the illegal activities going on there — right across from Linn-Mar High School — and got a warrant to search the apartment.

Officers served the warrant four days later and found small amounts of marijuana ALL OVER THE PLACE in his bedroom, according to the search warrant. Under the mattress, leftovers in baggies under the bed, on the night stand, in two dresser drawers. Even two baggies in his pants pocket!

You’ve gotta be nuts if you think that the kids at Linn-Mar didn’t know this guy was there. Teenagers can sniff out illegal substances just like K-9s…in fact, I think they’d do better in a contest. Anyway, he’s out of business for the time being. Louis was arrested and is being held in the Linn County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bond. One of the several charges against him is delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school.

Louis graduated from Kennedy High School last year, according to Gazette archives.

Bus holding immigrants facing criminal charges caught in Postville raid Monday

I was driving to pick up a mugshot of a man accused of sexual abuse from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office when I realized I had pulled up next to this huge Department of Homeland Security bus. Only one thing could be inside — immigrants arrested during the raid at Agriprocessors, Inc., meatpacking plant in Postalville. People stopped to gawk when it pulled up to the entrance of the jail, including me because I had to take a picture. “You don’t see that everyday!” the woman next to me exclaimed.

No, you really don’t.

Apparently the Linn County Jail is scheduled to hold 90 of the 154 people facing criminal charges so far. The jail’s capacity is 409, but they are already holding 383 after the first 48 immigrants. But Sheriff Don Zeller didn’t seem worried about that when I talked to him Wednesday night.

“We’re aware that we may have to handle a large number of (the immigrants), and we’re making arrangements for that,” he told me, but he wouldn’t tell me what those arrangements may be. Two to a bed? Rotating bunk wheels? I’m not quite sure what will happen, but Zeller’s a resourceful guy.

Maybe he could make some room for top members of Agriprocessors management, too…oh wait, they might not even face any charges for knowingly employing and exploiting illegal immigrants, charging below minimum wage, etc. I forgot. Their “cooperation” during the raid was SO helpful. **looking the other way**

Spencer Blakey’s brother thinks so.

Blakey, 45, was stabbed twice in the left side at his girlfriend, Shelly Marquette’s, apartment at Raintree Apartments, 4850 16th Ave. SW, last Tuesday. Police believe it was possibly a domestic situation, and they are still looking for her to talk to her about the incident. No arrest warrant has been issued. She has been gone for a week.

Stan Blakey of Cedar Rapids, Spencer’s older brother, called me today very upset because he said detectives told him they were “mad” he talked to The Gazette about Marquette’s connection to the stabbing. “Why are they so up in arms about me bringing this to the public’s attention? You’d think they’d want to work together with the newspaper and the TV stations to find suspects,” he said. “That’s crazy. My brother damn near died.” Spencer was released from the hospital on Friday, but is still recovering.

He said other black people he knows in the community from church and elsewhere have noticed the relative difference between this case and that of Thomas Horvath, shot to death outside the same apartment complex April 15. Jacovan Bush, 19, of Fairfax, was arrested the day after Horvath’s shooting. Horvath is white; Bush is black. But in this case, Spencer Blakey — the victim — is black. Marquette is white. Otherwise, the circumstances are about the same, he said. “A couple of my friends who are also black said ‘If it was you or me who stabbed him, we’d be in jail right now.’ If this isn’t racial, then why aren’t they doing something about it, why aren’t they saying anything?”

He also pointed out that Nancy Listman, former Science Station accountant, was put on probation for stealing more than $300,000 from the business, and that “someone else he knew” was convicted of a couple thousand dollar forgery charge and sentenced to 5 years in prison. However, after an Iowa courts search, I found Stan Blakey himself served 85 days of that 5-year forgery sentence. Regardless of his past convictions, I can understand where he’s coming from — her crime was a likely more serious. What do you think?

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