Thursday, May 25, 2000

Weeklong party trashes home

Vacationing dad missed big bash

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CARLISLE — For a week in this tranquil town of 5,400 residents, the mother of all parties raged — three doors down from the police station and across the street from the township hall.

        Apparently no one noticed — not even police, who were asked to keep an eye on the two-story house while tenant Gary Hollo was vacationing on Myrtle Beach. He was blissfully unaware that his home — in a scene from a parent's nightmare — had become Party Central.

        By April 22, when Mr. Hollo returned to his house at Fairview Drive and Union Road in a tree-lined stretch of well-kept, middle-class homes, he found a shambles the likes of which police had never seen.

        His entertainment center was toppled. The kitchen table and an antique desk were demolished. Couches had burn spots. The kitchen floor and walls were doused with food and liquid.

        A bannister was ripped from the stairs. Blood from a fist fight spattered another room. A television was smashed through the wall. Lighter fluid was poured into stereo equipment. Human waste was smeared on the floor and some of the furniture.

        And beer cans. There were beer cans everywhere.

        Police say the destruction — about $40,000 worth — was the result of a drunken spring break bash hosted by Mr. Hollo's 16-year-old son. He didn't live there but

        rigged the kitchen window so he could break in, authorities said.

        Three weeks later, 37 people were charged in the case, including the son and his mother, with whom the boy lived in Franklin. Police allege she knew what was happening early on but did nothing to stop it. Instead, she gave her son money for garbage bags so he could clean up the mess.

        “It was the most horrifying scene you could ever think of,” Mr. Hollo told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “It was total devastation. I will never forget the look of horror on my fiancee's face.”

        On Wednesday, Carlisle Mayor's Court Magistrate Eddie Lawson convicted two adults on charges related to the party.

        “It certainly looks like an extreme case of Home Alone,” he said.

        He sentenced Brad Gayheart, 18, of Carisle to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for criminal damage. He sentenced Mr. Gayheart and Josh Barr to 30 days and a $250 fine for criminal trespass. The sentences were stayed until June 28.

        “I think I'm being cheated,” Mr. Gayheart said. “I've been to some parties, but it's the first I've been to one that's been busted like this. I was invited.”

        As the sentences were meted out, a nagging question lingered throughout the small village:

        Why didn't anyone step in to stop it?

        “One of the things that stands out is that the neighbors never picked up on this. That seems odd to me,” said Acting Police Chief Robert Pieper, who was hired by the village in the midst of the investigation.

        It was the first time police can remember so many arrests from a single incident in the village.

        Acting Chief Pieper said interviews with the teens involved indicated that some parents knew they were partying at the house but did not report it.

        To prevent anything like this from happening again, he is working to establish a neighborhood watch program.

        But the proximity of the police station also raises con cerns about the village force.

        “The guy even called police and asked them to watch his house,” said Ross Crisp, who works at the Village Donuts & Dairy Bar. The smash-and-trash case has dominated conversation for weeks at the Central Avenue hangout, he said.

        “I don't see how it could have gone on without somebody noticing,” said Debbie Aponte, who owns several businesses in the shoping center there. “I guess everybody just minded their own business.”

        Acting Chief Pieper is quick to defend the department's eight full-time and four part-time officers.

        He said Mr. Hollo stopped at the station and asked an officer to keep an eye on the house. However, that information wasn't shared with others because the village had no procedure for logging vacation requests from residents.

        It does now, Acting Chief Pieper said, and officers on every shift must sign off on it.

        Mr. Hollo, who hopes to move back into the house this weekend after workers complete repairs his insurance is covering, does not blame neighbors or police.

        “Really, there is no upside to bash police about this ... the story in this is what the kids did,” he said.

        He pursued prosecution of everyone involved, including his son and Kathy Hollo, his ex-wife of a few years. She is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to report a crime.

        Mr. Hollo said the police investigation revealed that the young party-goers backed off a plan to burn down the house.

        Kathy Hollo could not be reached. The 16-year-old, reached at their home, said neither he nor his mother was commenting on the case.

        A total of 26 juveniles, ages 15 to 17, face mostly criminal trespassing charges. The teens are likely to complete a juvenile diversion program that will spare them a criminal record if they complete community service, said Mayor Pat Long, who will preside over those cases.

        However, three of the juveniles, including the 16-year-old son, face felonies. The son, charged with vandalism, unauthorized use of his father's van and burglary, was released from the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center on Tuesday pending trial.

        A second boy was charged with aggravated menacing for allegedly brandishing the tenant's shotgun at partyers. Yet another is charged with vandalism, accused of using a hammer to bash holes in the walls.

        Mr. Hollo said having his son investigated is “one of the toughest things I've ever been through in my life.”

        Yet, the lesson he hopes to teach is important.

        “If somebody doesn't say "This is wrong,' it could be the neighbor's house next time or somebody down the street,” he said.

        “They have to be held responsible for what they did.”

        David Eck contributed to this report.


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