Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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BAYARD, Iowa — A late night text message Monday shook Robert McCauley to his core.  “I get a text message saying the kid I grew up with is now looking at a random murder.”

Robert McCauley says he was best friends with Collin Richards when the two lived in Bayard.  “I grew up with him and his brother.  Doing regular kid stuff like baseball and just playing around in the yard.”

Now twenty-two years old, Richards is charged with the murder of former Iowa State student-athlete and European amateur golf champion Celia Barquin Arozamena.  McCauley said, “He didn’t seem like the person that would come up with a scheme and say I have the urge to rape and kill a woman and the very same day in broad daylight and act on it?  He changed a lot.”

McCauley says that change may have begun when the two were Coon Rapids-Bayard High School together.  “You never expected he’d do anything.  He never showed signs of being violent, he got into fights with people but just teenage stuff.”

Richards was even a member of the CR-B  wrestling team as of 2012 but then vanished.  “They sent him to Woodward Academy then after that he straight disappeared.  I have no idea where he went.”

An all-boys school in central Iowa, Woodward Academy lists it’s prospective students as 12-18 year-olds who are impulsive, irresponsible, lack self-discipline and have aggressive behavior. McCauley said, “It is a transitional school. They work with you and work to keep your grades up.  It’s basically for struggling kids.”

After Woodward, Richards returned to Bayard and his friend noticed he was even.  Engaging in criminal activity which led to ten arrests in four years.  Actions causing conflict McCauley’s feelings towards a former best friend.  He said, “Part of me says I can’t be surprised because he started spiraling hard here recently.”

A disastrous spiral that police believe blew out a flame of a young woman that was beginning to shine it’s brightest.  “This girl is out playing golf, doing something she loves, something she is good at and old boy comes up and kills her for no reason. I don’t understand why.”

Richards is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next week.  Calls to Woodward Academy to find out if Richards successfully graduated from their institution were not returned.

 

ANKENY, Iowa– New body camera released from Ankeny Police Department shows the moments after a police officer caused a fender bender.

The crash happened back in July at the intersection of SE Magazine Road and SE Sharon Drive in Ankeny.

Officer Charles Webster and two other cars were involved in the accident.

The Investigating Officer’s Report provided to us by the Department of Transportation details what happened.

Four cars were driving eastbound on Magazine Road.

One driver stopped behind a left turning car, the second driver saw and applied her breaks.

That’s when she felt Officer Webster crash into her.

Officer Webster said he was distracted.

“I was going to a call and looking down at my computer and just didn’t see,” Officer Webster said.

Officer Webster was never cited for causing the crash.

Ankeny Police Department Lieutenant Brian Kroska said it was handled internally with progressive discipline.

Former Des Moines Police Chief William Moulder said that’s common.

“The administrative process can be more punitive than the criminal justice processes, it could be suspension,” Moulder said.

Lieutenant Kroska says Officer Webster was not fired for causing this crash.

Both cars drove away from the scene, one of them had damage to their rear bumper.

Ankeny Police and one other person involved in the crash were unavailable for comment.

BAYARD, Iowa — A Bayard man says he’s tried to hand over Collin Richards to police before but believes there is a problem with justice in rural Iowa.  “The criminals are coming out here because it’s less likely to get caught and that’s what is scaring everybody out here,” said Joel Lacey, a Bayard resident who knew Richards.  Lacey was surprised to hear Richards was out of jail and said, “His report, his criminal background he just received a slap on the wrist, slap on the wrist for numerous things people I know have gone to jail for a really long time.  The system just needs to work a little harder.” 

 

In September of 2016, Joel Lacey was approached at his home in Bayard by Richards who asked if he wanted to purchase cigarettes.  Lacey was aware that a nearby gas station called Sparky’s One Stop was recently burglarized in town and took the items Richards sold him to authorities who began an investigation.  Authorities then arrested Collin Richards and two other individuals in the break-in and burglary. Lacey says he never thought a small theft years ago could lead to the violence Richards is accused of now but it is a situation he looks back on now and second guesses ever letting him into his home on several occasions.  “That just scares the (expletive) out of me.  It’s scary, it’s really scary because he came in a couple of times to help my landlord to do work on my property and to know that brings chills down my back because I have two kids I have a wife. What if I wasn’t home?,” said Lacey.

Richards received a suspended 2 year prison sentence in the 2016 burglary.   In October 2017, after numerous probation violations, his probation officers recommended Richards serve the two-year sentence but he served just over seven months and was released recently in June.

DES MOINES, Iowa- A conference at Drake University was held to look for ways to improve Iowa water quality through stewardship of the land. The SOIL Conference stands for Saving Our Iowa Land brought in farmers, conservation leaders, land owners, and government officials to brainstorm ideas.

“The first challenge we face around Iowa is our lakes are sick, we need to set goals to make them well,” said Jennifer Terry, of the Iowa Environmental Council. “A lot of you have talked about soil, soil and water are definitely hooked together in this state.”

Ray Gaesser is a farmer, and leader in the Iowa Soybean Association. He outlined some priorities.
“Conservation, water quality, soil health, profitability, and opportunities for the next generation,” said Gaesser.

Joe McGovern, President of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has been looking for ways to improve water quality incrementally.

“The land is 97 per cent privately owned, so I think conservation easements, on private land is the key,” said McGovern.

“The millions of acres focused solely on two grains are a significant the primary contributor to the over nitrification
of our surface waters,” said Bill Stowe of the Des Moines Water Works. Stowe talked about the effort to improve water with cover crops. “One hundred twenty-five million dollars of our state tax money, and got us nowhere, sprinkled money around and had a number of ribbon cuttings, involving electives, and a great splash of publicity, but absolutely no results.”

Stowe called for more accountability from agriculture through permits.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — With criminal activity dating back to 2014, 22 year old Collin Richards has a history with the police but also with second, third and fourth chances.  Aside from Monday’s alleged murder in Ames, Richards’ charges were primarily in Guthrie county.  In fact over fifty pages worth of run-ins with the law ranging from felony theft and harassment, to criminal mischief and drug use.  Ten arrests in just four years. Court documents show he served a total of thirty-one days behind bars for some of them but avoided another five years in suspended sentences where he was placed on probation.

An October 2017 Judicial District Department of Correctional Services document out of Guthrie County states Richards’ two probation officers reported that “Mr. Richards has not been successful on probation for any length of time.” They go on to recommend that if a judge finds that Richards is found in violation he should be forced to serve an originally suspended two-year sentence for third degree theft.

The Iowa Department of Corrections says after the recommendation Richards arrived the following month at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center  on November 8, 2017 and was transferred to the Mount Pleasant Correctional facility in December.  He was discharged seventh months later on June 4, 2018.

Calls to reach out to both probation officers as to why Richards served just eight months before being released were unsuccessful.  The Department of Corrections has confirmed he was not currently under any probation, parole or work release program since his release in June.

AMES, Iowa– Monday, Ames Police identified a body as 22 year old Former Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena. Barquin Arozamena was found dead Monday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames.

The investigation led to Collin Daniel Richards.

Richards aged 22, has been charged with Murder in the 1st degree, a Class “A” Felony.

Barquin Arozamena was a golfer, and the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the year.

The concern started when golfers found an abandoned golf bag on the course at Coldwater Golf Links.

Student Milla Charles lives next to Coldwater Golf Links.

“When I read the address, I saw my address that’s when I started to freak out a bit,” Charles said.

The view from above shows the scope of Ames Police and, DCI’s investigation.

The golf course will remain closed until further notice.

Iowa State Athletics Department released this statement, “Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed,” Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Iowa State Athletics Department will honor Barquin Arozamena’s memory at Saturday’s football game vs. Akron.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Three civil rights groups hope an Iowa case can change what they believe is causing a racial disparities across the country.  “Quite frankly it is a crisis,” said Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP says minorities are falling victim to pretextual stops for minor infractions such as a broken tail light.  “The proverbial driving while black,” said Andrews.

On Tuesday, the Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from the Iowa NAACP, ACLU, and LULAC on behalf of Scottize Brown, an African-American woman who was pulled over in 2015 by Waterloo police for having two of her rear license plate lights out.  “It is a devastating ordeal to be put through when you are stopped just because of how you look.  Just because of the color of your skin,” said Andrews.

Once brown was pulled over, the officer then noticed an empty beer can in the vehicle and smelled alcohol on Brown’s breath and cited Brown for driving while intoxicated.  It is a charge Andrews believed should have never happened and was unconstitutionally made.  Brown refused to take a breathalyzer test. Andrews said, “There’s a point where we have to draw a line and when people feel invaded we need to draw that line.”

The groups say statistics prove racial disparity exists in Iowa where African-Americans make up just 3.5% of Iowans.  Andrews said, “We are number three in the nation when it comes to African-American disparities.  For every eleven African-Americans per capita, one white person is in our criminal justice system.”

Two years ago the Des Moines police department heard similar cries.  Sergeant Paul Parizek said, “We got a lot of feedback from the community along the lines of hey you are stopping us for these minor violations.  They are just simple things and we were like well we can help eliminate the problem.”  A tail light check up has been held every year since.  It allows the community to fix minor traffic violations on their cars for free.  Parizek says it has made a big difference in the community.  “Every time you’ve got a good relationship with somebody it is so much easier to communicate with them.  It’s just a small program like this that has such a big reward in the end,” said Parizek

It isn’t a cure-all.  The NAACP says a recent lawsuit against the Des Moines Police Department, where two black men were pulled over with no reason and even placed in handcuffs sheds a bright light on why Tuesday’s Iowa Supreme Court hearing on a pretextual traffic stop is so crucial.  “It would be great in the realm of criminal justice reform to be known as the leader in looking at these issues and eliminating driving while black,” said Andrews.

The oral argument hearing for this case will be held Tuesday September 19, at 1:30pm.  An Iowa summit on justice and disparities will be held October 16 fromm 8am-4:30pm at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny.

 

ANKENY, Iowa — The Central Iowa “Out of the Darkness” Walk held at the DMACC campus in Ankeny not only gave people a chance to open up about their own struggle or loss, but also serves as a  platform to help change the way Iowa approaches mental health care.

This year’s main speakers, Mary Neubauer and Larry Loss, have advocated for change to the system following the death of their son, Sergei, to suicide in 2017.

As of Sunday, the walk has raised almost $65,000 through online donations. The link to the donation page can be found here.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Some four-legged friends and their handlers from Nebraska Task Force One are on the east coast helping with Hurricane Florence relief efforts.

Moses and his handler, Robin Greubel are part of Nebraska Task Force One and they respond within a moments notice when disaster strikes.

“When we were in Joplin Missouri, one of the things that would happen is they would send the dogs through, searching for missing people. And then it was our responsibility, me and the other handler I was witht we were the last dogs through the area before they would send in heavy equipment to begin clearing the area,” Greubel said

Two dogs from the task force are currently responding to Hurricane Florence and they started staging earlier this week.

“The dogs form Nebraska Task Force One that are currently deployed are ‘live find’ dogs because the focus remains on rescue. Recovery can happen later. The dogs can immediately tell the difference between a live human and dead human. Discrimination is not a problem for them,” Greubel said.

She said she spent hours training Moses to do this life saving job and is the Founder and CEO of the K9 Sensus Foundation.

“We have what is commonly known as starting ritual. So all of the FEMA search and rescue dogs work naked. So they have no vest and no collar because we don’t want them getting caught on any of the debris. So he will sit, I will remove his collar and I will release him to go search wherever he needs to go search. And I give him a cue and I tell him, “Go search,” and he jets off very quickly and begins his job,” Greubel said.

Once he’s found the person he’s looking for he will bark and Greubel will reward him with a simple game of tug and a treat.

“There are only 300 dogs in the nation trained to do what Moses does and there is no detector on the planet that is as good as a dog’s nose. They’ve tried for years to create one and they can’t. And the amount of training and expertise that goes into the development of these dogs to provide that first and last line of defense is crucial for public safety,” Greubel said.

You can donate to the K9 Sensus Foundation to help train more dogs and handlers here.

ANKENY, Iowa — One person is dead following an officer-involved shooting in Ankeny Saturday afternoon.

Police were called to a robbery in progress at the Hy-Vee Gas on Oralabor Road at around 4:30 p.m. A responding officer located the suspect near Kum & Go on SW White Birch Circle. The suspect drew his weapon and pointed it at the officer. The officer then opened fire and hit the suspect, killing him.

Police then tried to resuscitate him using CPR but were unable. A firearm was recovered at the scene. The suspect’s name has not yet been released.

Shortly before the robbery, Ankney police received a call about a suspicious male in all black near Kum N Go on SW White Birch Circle.
The caller also said it “looked like a gun fell out of the [suspects] pants.”

This is a developing story.