Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Slaying victim had bailed out suspect

2 charged in death of man, 83

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - Detectives say an elderly widower was bludgeoned to death Saturday by two Northern Kentucky men, one of whom he had bailed out of jail three months earlier.

Earl Rusche, 83, of Lakeside Park made a $250 deposit at Kenton District Court on April 8 to secure the release of Anthony Wayne Ferry, 24.

Ferry had been arrested 10 days earlier on charges of dealing marijuana out of Rusche's Carran Drive home.

Ferry lived with his mother and Rusche on a middle-class residential street that is mostly a mix of retirees and young families.

Rusche was not related to the Ferrys, police said.

Ferry was booked in the Kenton County jail on a murder charge after being released from an area psychiatric ward Monday afternoon. He had received medical treatment after he tried to cut himself with a broken bottle as police moved in to arrest him early Sunday.

Jeremy C. Niemer, 21, of Crescent Springs, pleaded not guilty Monday morning in Kenton District Court to a murder charge.

He is being held without bail at the Kenton County jail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 22 in Kenton District Court.

Niemer didn't say anything Monday during the short hearing in which he appeared before a judge via a video monitor from the jail. Niemer's family was in the courtroom and declined to speak with reporters.

Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett said it is too early in the investigation for him to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

According to a police report, Ferry and Niemer were coming off a nearly 24-hour crack cocaine binge when they asked Rusche for money. When Rusche refused, he was attacked him in his bed with an ice scraper, the report says. During the assault, according to the police report, the handle of the ice scraper broke.

Police say Rusche was then stuffed in a small storage room off the bedroom and the two men took his credit card. Ferry and Niemer used automated teller machines to make two withdrawals totaling $600, according to the police report.

Authorities said the money was used to buy more crack cocaine. They said Ferry changed his clothes after the deadly assault.

The police report, signed by Kenton County Police Detective Wayne Wallace, said Niemer gave a statement about the crime in a tape-recorded interview.

This is not the first time Rusche was attacked by people who were living at the Carran Drive house he owned for more than 40 years.

Twelve years ago, a 28-year-old woman who lived in a basement apartment at the time and an Independence man were charged with first-degree assault for shooting Rusche in the chest. Police said Rusche was hit by a bullet fired through the front door.

His death is the second homicide this year in the normally quiet community of Lakeside Park, and it has area residents concerned.

Holmes Middle School teacher Tara Greene was killed in early May. Her husband, Dennis R. Greene Sr., is accused of that homicide.

Also, Applebee's Grill & Bar manager Mark Smith was gunned down as he closed the popular nightspot in neighboring Crestview Hills in late April.

The two cities are served by the same police department.

A flier left at Carran Drive homes Sunday urged residents to attend Monday night's Lakeside Park Council meeting to express concern about recent events on their street.

Earl Shackelford, who lives four doors down from Rusche, said he planned to attend the meeting to learn more about criminal activity in his neighborhood.

"I'm concerned about recurring police calls at certain residences and nothing seemingly being done about it," Shackelford said. "There's at least one other house on this same street that's had some problems. There have been a number of police calls at this particular residence, and I hope to hear some explanation."

Janet Cahill, who lives across the street from Rusche, said that she also wants answers from city officials. She said there has been a drug raid and several break-ins in her neighborhood since April. While reassured that suspects charged with her neighbor's death are in custody, Cahill said that she is taking no chances.

"I guess everybody's a little jumpy knowing something like that could happen here," Cahill said.


Cindy Schroeder contributed to this report. E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com

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