Thursday, May 15, 2003

Quiet suburb jolted by neighbor's gun death

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - You don't expect to see bright yellow police tape in this neatly kept suburb. Nor the bullet holes in the side of one of the recently built Silverwood Farms homes. But both were clearly visible here Wednesday, after this Warren County city's first murder case in three years.

Residents said they were shocked and saddened after learning of the shooting death of Steve Ricketts. His ex-wife, Rhonda, is accused of killing him Tuesday after he allegedly beat her.

The Rickettses' home in the 400 block of Silverwood Farms Drive is along the main road leading into the subdivision where homes are priced well above $150,000. "It's sad and it blows your mind because you don't expect anything like that around here," said the Rev. Rowland Pendley, a pastor at Lebanon Church of God, whose home is across the street from the Rickettses'.

"The mood around here is very somber because this is a neighborhood where the whole atmosphere is peaceful and you feel secure. People come out at 10 at night to walk their dogs or to walk with their children," said Pendley, who didn't know the Rickettses.

David Wahl said the Rickettses, who have two teen-age children at home, were mostly quiet and "you didn't see them outside too much."

"The neighborhood is in shock. One of the hardest things was my wife had to explain what happened to our four children because they saw news about the shooting on TV," said Wahl.

The neighborhood has seen bad news in the last year with the death of 16-year-old Lebanon High School student Katie Ayler in an August traffic accident and the suicide of another resident.

Lebanon City Attorney Mark Yurick has called Silverwood Farms home for more than two years and said, "It's really a wonderful neighborhood ... it's very safe.

"But domestic violence can happen in any neighborhood," said Yurick.


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