Saturday, August 24, 2002

Mother, children stabbed, 2 fatally

Woman urged friend to break up with suspect

By Jim Hannah,
Randy McNutt,
and Cindy Schroeder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] In Charleston, W. Va., Sheriff Dave Tucker escorts Marco Allen Chapman to his arraignment on Friday.
(Associated Press photo)
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        WARSAW, Ky. — A woman who had counseled a friend to get out of an abusive relationship was stabbed 15 times — allegedly by the friend's jilted boyfriend, who police say broke into her house early Friday, killed two of her children and left a third bleeding.

        Marco Allen Chapman, 30, who police say stabbed Carolyn Marksberry, the city clerk of Warsaw, and the children, was arrested in West Virginia. His 268-mile flight took him through Boone County, where police said he grabbed a second getaway vehicle near Big Bone Lick State Park.

        While Mr. Chapman fled across Kentucky, Ms. Marksberry, 37, a Girl Scout troop leader, underwent five hours of emergency surgery.

        The knife attack, reported to Gallatin County dispatch at 6 a.m., left Ms. Marksberry's children, Cody Sharon, 6, and his sister Chelbi Sharon, 7, dead.

        Their sister, Courtney Sharon, 10, was wounded and taken to Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, where she was in fair condition Friday night with superficial knife wounds.

        Ms. Marksberry's husband, in Spain for training with his steel company employer, was en route back to Cincinnati.

        County sheriffs arrested Mr. Chapman in Shrewsbury, W.Va., about 12:30 p.m., charging him with two counts of murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of burglary.

        With stab wounds and a collapsed lung, Ms. Marksberry was in critical condition at University Hospital late Friday.

Wounds serious

        “I think she was pretty lucky,” said Dr. Sandra Miller, a University Hospital trauma surgeon. “Her wounds were deep — cuts to her neck and trachea (wind pipe).

        “She had a collapsed lung from a stab wound to the chest, but the lung is re-expanded now and I think things have gone well in terms of medical care. She's doing well overall.”

        Dr. Miller said Ms. Marksberry received eight to 10 units of blood during five hours of surgery. No additional surgery was planned, the doctor said.

        Ms. Marksberry also suffered wounds to her esophagus and an unspecified eye trauma, Dr. Miller said.

        “At this point, patients like this just need to be supported,” she said.

        The children's father was at the hospital with Courtney. Ms. Marksberry's husband, and the stepfather of the children, was in Spain for job training with North American Steel in Ghent, Ky.

        Family members at the Marksberry residence in Warsaw and at the hospitals in Cincinnati declined to comment.

Helping a friend

        Townspeople across Warsaw said Ms. Marksberry had been helping a friend get out of what they called an “abusive relationship” with Mr. Chapman and that the friend lived within yards of the Marksberry home.

[photo] Kentucky state police detectives at the Marksberry home in Warsaw Friday
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Several townspeople said Ms. Marksberry's friend often spent the night at the Marksberry home because she was afraid of Mr. Chapman.

        Relatives of the woman who Mr. Chapman had been involved with declined comment when reached at their home.

        Sgt. John Bradley of the Kentucky State Police would not comment on any motive for the attack or about how the victims knew the suspect.

        “This is certainly very rare, very unusual and very sad for this community,” said Sgt. Bradley.

        Sgt. Bradley was not aware of any other witnesses to the crime. “I won't speculate what I think happened.” Neighbors told police they heard tires squealing near the Weldon Way residence about 5 a.m.

        Warsaw Police Chief Donnie Gould was the first officer on the scene after Gallatin County dispatch received a call about possible trouble at the Marksberry home at 6:01 a.m. He could not pinpoint the time of the attack.

        “Things like this don't happen in Warsaw,” Chief Gould said. “I guess it is an ever-changing world.”

Small town reacts

        “Lord, I don't know how anybody could do that,” said neighbor Polly Jackson, 83. “Carolyn Marksberry was a real good mother. I can't understand something like this happening to her, let alone the children.”

[photo] Family members Lauren Raisor (foreground) and Virgil Walters (left), friend Rose Sullivan and family member Carol Brown listen at a press conference outside the county courthouse.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Mrs. Jackson, who has lived across the road from the Marksberrys for about five years, described the family as “good, quiet neighbors.” She said Ms. Marksberry often brought her vegetables from her garden, and her children played with Mrs. Jackson's grandchildren.

        “How do you explain something like this to a little 6-year-old kid?” Mrs. Jackson said. “I can't understand it myself. You don't think about this kind of thing happening in a little community like ours.”

        “You didn't have to know them for it to break your heart,” said Dallas Wallace, 63, a farmer in Gallatin County.

        Ms. Marksberry's home is a one-story white-frame house with black shutters that sits on the end of a cul-de-sac. Warsaw, a small city on the Ohio River, is not far from the Kentucky Speedway, about 45 miles southwest of Cincinnati.

        “This has been a gloomy day,” said Christine Gordy while she had lunch at the soda counter in Beringer Drug Center across from the county courthouse. “I think it has saddened everyone. I don't remember anyone killing babies here before. Nothing sticks out in my mind like that.”

Warrant, flight, arraignment

        A warrant was issued for Mr. Chapman's arrest Friday morning on two counts of murder and two counts of first-degree assault. Police also added a burglary charge to the warrant.

        He was arraigned in Charleston, W.Va., on the warrant and is expected to be extradited to Kentucky.

        Mr. Chapman's last known address was in Warsaw, but Boone County police said he had been staying at a home on Beaver Road in Boone County.

        There is no record of any prior interaction by Mr. Chapman with local law enforcement in Gallatin County on file at the courthouse. Boone County officials also have no record of any prior arrests or contacts with Mr. Chapman.

        As they began the search for Mr. Chapman, state police got information that he was possibly en route to Charlottesville, Va.; Baltimore; or West Virginia.

        West Virginia was, “One of the places we were looking at as a possible destination,” because Mr. Chapman may have had family or lived there, said Sgt. Bradley.

        When he was apprehended, Mr. Chapman was driving a 1992 gray Dodge Dakota, taken from the home in Boone County where he had been staying.

        The Boone County Sheriff's Department was called to the home on Beaver Road near Big Bone Lick State Park about 7:30 a.m.

        Mr. Chapman had apparently been staying at that residence and had returned there early Friday after leaving Gallatin County, dropping off the Geo he had been driving.

        He left a note telling his friend he was taking his Dakota to get a load of firewood, said Major Jack Banks of the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

Support at the school

        Gallatin County Schools were locked Friday morning as the search went on for Mr. Chapman.

        Cody was in first grade and Chelbi was in third grade at Gallatin County Elementary School. Courtney was in fifth grade at the neighboring Gallatin County Upper Elementary School.

        “Our local crisis team, made up of our own school guidance counselors and local ministers, has been assisting with both students and staff in the elementary and upper elementary today,” said Dot Perkins, superintendent of the 730-student Gallatin County Schools District.

        The elementary school building will be open from 10 a.m. to noon today and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to provide a gathering place for people to talk with counselors.

        Warsaw City Hall, where Ms. Marksberry worked, was closed much of the day. Workers were too distraught to continue.

        “We have had more tragedy in this city over the summer than I can ever, ever remember,” said George Zubaty, the Gallatin County judge-executive, referring to an Indiana man's Aug. 4 shooting of a Warsaw police officer, who returned fire, killing the man. The officer was saved by his body armor.

        “This would be horrible for any city, large or small.”

        “The tragedy is that it happened,” Mr. Zubaty said. “It doesn't matter where. For it to happen to children is totally foreign and against all our beliefs.”


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