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Carlisle
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Carlisle
Police, county use rapid DNA system to confirm suspect in Carlisle homicide

Police are crediting the cooperation of citizens, law enforcement and aid from new technology in catching the man they say shot and killed 35-year-old Rhyhiem Hodge Sunday during a robbery in Carlisle.

Christopher Jaquell Williams, 25, of Harrisburg, is charged with felony criminal homicide, robbery, possession of firearm by a prohibited person, two counts of felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and unlawful restraint. He is in Cumberland County Prison and bail has been denied.

“We hope as a police department that this in some way helps the Hodge family,” Carlisle Police Sgt. David Miller said Tuesday during a news conference announcing the charges. “We hope that this arrest helps to allow them to have a little bit of closure or a step towards closure in this horrific event.”

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Williams went to the home in the 200 block of West North Street Sunday afternoon and attempted to purchase marijuana. A witness told police she was taken hostage by Williams, who placed a gun to her head and demanded money. He then shot Hodge.

Court documents say Hodge had gunshot wounds to his hip, ear and head. Shell casings were found in the kitchen where Hodge was killed, and a kitchen knife was found covered in the blood near Hodge.

Court documents said there were four children in the house at the time of the shooting. A large bag of individually wrapped, suspected marijuana was found in the dining room.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said the attempted drug deal was likely a pretext for Williams to gain entry into the home.

“There may have been a pretext to buy marijuana, but everything else screams out robbery,” Freed said. “It’s about money, not about drugs.”

Williams fled out the rear door of the home. About 45 minutes after the incident, he entered the UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg emergency room with a severe stab wound to his thigh, which had caused extensive bleeding. The affidavit says blood was found on the rear sidewalk to the parking lot on the east side of the Carlisle apartment building.

Police collected Williams’ clothing, which matched the description from witnesses who saw a man flee the scene after the shooting, according to the affidavit. Blood samples were also collected from the scene and compared to DNA taken from Williams’ blood soaked sock. Court documents say the DNA profiles were consistent with each other.

Freed said this case was the first time the county has used a new rapid DNA system, which allows for quick DNA comparisons.

Cumberland County is the only jurisdiction in Pennsylvania to own a rapid DNA system, Freed said.

The blood samples collected at the scene, as well as the samples collected from Williams’ clothes, will be sent for a full comparison to bolster the case for trial, he said.

“For the citizens who will hear me, what I will tell you is that if you commit a crime in Carlisle borough or Cumberland County, we will find you,” Carlisle Police Chief Taro Landis said.

Landis called on the public to help fill in information about Hodge’s death and implored assistance with helping police solve crimes as they occur in the borough.

“The police cannot be everywhere,” Landis said. “We need your assistance on not only this horrific crime, but on incidents that happen throughout the borough and throughout Cumberland County. The police need your help.

“I’m asking you to come forward and think about it as if one of your loved ones were hurt,” he said. “We want you to help us out.”

Williams had been convicted of robbery in March 2009, and the felony conviction meant he was prohibited to possess a firearm. He recently completed a sentence for felony possession with intent to deliver, as well as other drug charges in Dauphin County, according to court records.

Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

A Harrisburg man faces charges after police said he shot and killed Rhyhiem Hodge Sunday in a drug deal gone wrong in Carlisle.

Christopher Jaquell Williams, 25, is charged with felony criminal homicide, robbery, possession of firearm by a prohibited person, two counts of felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and unlawful restraint.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Williams went to the home in the 200 block of West North Street Sunday afternoon and attempted to purchase marijuana. A witness told police she was taken hostage by Williams, who placed a gun to her head and demanded money. He then shot Hodge.

Court documents say Hodge had gunshot wounds to his hip, ear and head. Shell casings were found in the kitchen where Hodge was killed, and a kitchen knife was found covered in blood near Hodge.

Court documents said there were four children in the house at the time of the shooting. A large bag of individually wrapped, suspected marijuana was found in the dining room.

Williams fled out the rear door of the home. About 45 minutes after the incident, he entered the UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg emergency room with a severe stab wound to his thigh, which had caused extensive bleeding. The affidavit said blood was found on the rear sidewalk to the parking lot on the east side of the apartment building.

Police collected Williams’ clothing, which matched the description from witnesses who saw a man flee the scene after the shooting, according to the affidavit. Blood samples were also collected from the scene and compared to DNA taken from Williams’ blood soaked sock. Court documents say the DNA profiles were consistent with each other.

Williams had been convicted of robbery in March 2009, and the felony conviction meant he was prohibited to possess a firearm. He recently completed a sentence for felony possession with intent to deliver, as well as other drug charges in Dauphin County, according to court records.

Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

A Harrisburg man faces charges in the fatal shooting that occurred Sunday in Carlisle, according to court documents.

Christopher Jaquell Williams, 25, of Harrisburg, is charged with felony criminal homicide, robbery, possession of firearm by a prohibited person, two counts of felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor reckless endangerment and unlawful restraint for the shooting death of 35-year-old Rhyhiem Hodge.

A witness stated Williams entered the home in an attempt to purchase marijuana when he pulled a gun, demanded money and shot Hodge, the affidavit said.

Hodge was found deceased at the scene of apparent gunshot wounds, police said.

Williams is a convicted felon who recently completed a sentence for felony possession with intent to deliver, as well as other drug charges in Dauphin County, according to court records.

Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed announced that he and the Carlisle Police Department will hold a news conference this afternoon at the police station regarding a “development” in the Carlisle homicide.

Rhyhiem Hodge, 35, of Carlisle, was killed Sunday afternoon in a home at the corner of West North and North College streets. Police had not made any immediate arrests Sunday or Monday.

Police believe Hodge died of gunshot wounds, and noted during a news conference Sunday that at least one shot was fired outside the building shortly after the murder.


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Half of US adults have high blood pressure in new guidelines

New guidelines lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition, which now plagues nearly half of U.S. adults.

High pressure, which for decades has been a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, drops to 130 over 80 in advice announced Monday by a dozen medical groups.

The change means an additional 14 percent of U.S. adults have the problem, but only an additional 2 percent will need medication right away; the rest should try healthier lifestyles, which get much stronger emphasis in the new advice. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure.

“I have no doubt there will be controversy. I’m sure there will be people saying ‘We have a hard enough time getting to 140,’” said Dr. Paul Whelton, a Tulane University physician who led the guidelines panel.

But the risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems drops as blood pressure improves, and the new advice “is more honest” about how many people have a problem, he said.

Currently, only half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control.

The upper threshold for high blood pressure has been 140 since 1993, but a major study two years ago found heart risks were much lower in people who aimed for 120. Canada and Australia lowered their cutoff to that; Europe is still at 140 but is due to revise its guidance next year.

The guidelines were announced Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Anaheim.

What the changes mean

The guidelines set new categories and get rid of “prehypertension”:

Normal: Under 120 over 80

Elevated: Top number 120-129 and bottom less than 80

Stage 1: Top of 130-139 or bottom of 80-89

Stage 2: Top at least 140 or bottom at least 90

That means 46 percent of U.S. adults have high pressure (stages 1 or 2) versus 32 percent under the old levels.

How common it is will roughly triple in men under 45, to 30 percent, and double in women of that age, to 19 percent.

For people over 65, the guidelines undo a controversial tweak made three years ago to relax standards and not start medicines unless the top number was over 150. Now, everyone that old should be treated if the top number is over 130 unless they’re too frail or have conditions that make it unwise.

“The evidence with this is so solid, so convincing, that it’s hard to argue with the targets,” said Dr. Jackson Wright, a guidelines panel member from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Older people “have a 35-to-50-fold higher risk of dying of a heart attack or stroke compared to younger people.”

But the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Steven Nissen said he’s worried.

“Some more vulnerable patients who get treated very aggressively may have trouble with falls” because too-low pressure can make them faint, he said.

Who needs treatment

Certain groups, such as those with diabetes, should be treated if their top number is over 130, the guidelines say. For the rest, whether to start medication will no longer be based just on the blood pressure numbers. The decision also should consider the overall risk of having a heart problem or stroke in the next 10 years, including factors such as age, gender and cholesterol, using a simple formula to estimate those odds.

Those without a high risk will be advised to improve their lifestyles — lose weight, eat healthy, exercise more, limit alcohol, avoid smoking.

“It’s not just throwing meds at something,” said one primary care doctor who praised the new approach, the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Robert Stroebel. If people continue bad habits, “They can kind of eat and blow through the medicines,” he said.

The guidelines warn about some popular approaches, though. There’s not enough proof that consuming garlic, dark chocolate, tea or coffee helps, or that yoga, meditation or other behavior therapies lower blood pressure long-term, they say.

The government no longer writes heart guidelines, leaving it to medical groups. Unlike previous guideline panels, none on this one have recent financial ties to industry, although some on a panel that reviewed and commented on them do.

The guidelines were published in two journals — Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

When to check it

Blood pressure should be checked at least once a year by a health professional, and diagnosing high pressure requires 2 or 3 readings on at least two occasions.

The common way uses a cuff on the upper arm to temporarily block the flow of blood in an artery in the arm and gradually release it while listening with a stethoscope and counting sounds the blood makes as it flows through the artery. But that is prone to error, and many places now use automated devices.

The guidelines don’t pick a method, but recommend measuring pressure in the upper arm; devices that work on fingers or are worn on wrists “aren’t ready for prime time,” Whelton said.

Home monitoring also is recommended; devices cost as little as $40 to $60.

What about children?

Unlike adults, numbers for normal pressure in children vary with age, height and gender. Kids should be checked at least once a year for high pressure, say guidelines announced in August by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After age 13, the levels defining high pressure are the same as for adults, said a member of the pediatrics panel, Dr. Elaine Urbina of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“When you turn 18 years and one minute, you shouldn’t suddenly have a new definition,” she said.


Carlisle
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Carlisle
Carlisle considers adding police to 2018 budget

Carlisle Borough’s proposed 2018 budget does not raise real estate taxes but it does increase water and sewer rates as well as the cost of trash removal.

It might also increase the number of police officers serving the borough.

In a budget meeting Monday, Councilwoman Robin Guido said the number of officers on the police force had been reduced from 33 to 31 several years ago.

“At the time when we did that, I wasn’t particularly comfortable with that, but it was a cost cutting recommended by the chief of police at the time,” she said.

In light of recent events, including Sunday night’s homicide of Rhyhiem Hodge and the June 2016 killing of Daniel Harris Jr., Guido said the borough should “seriously consider” returning the number of sworn officers to 33. Adding officers will not end violence in Carlisle, but it might allow for quicker resolutions to cases as well as give officers the time to do proactive police work.

“I cringe at the thought of asking everybody to open this back up and look at it, but I would ask that council at least consider thinking about adding one or two officers,” Guido said.

Chief Taro Landis said he had told the borough when he was hired that it did not have enough officers on its police force. Additional officers would increase the scope of police activity beyond answering calls.

“Do I actually guarantee that this is going to stop everything going down the pike? Absolutely not. But I can tell you the officers would be out there talking to people,” Landis said.

It costs roughly a little more than $100,000, including salary, benefits and equipment, to bring in a new officer, said Finance Director Norm Butts. He recommended that the council look to cut the money for any additional officers from other items in the budget.

“I’m 100 percent open to considering it, but what we need to do is work with the manager and chief and have real proposals,” Councilman Sean Shultz said.

Further discussion on hiring more police officers will be held at the borough council’s workshop meeting on Dec. 6.

The workshop meeting comes a week before a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. on Dec. 14, prior to the borough’s monthly meeting.

In his budget message posted as part of the preliminary plan, Borough Manager Matt Candland said that while some line items have increased slightly, others have decreased to allow the borough to “hold the line” on expenditures while maintaining services.

The budget plan includes $42,411,832 in spending with anticipated revenue of $43,642,265.

“For 2018, the theme is going to be construction,” Candland said.

Construction for Carlisle Townhomes on the former Carlisle Tire and Wheel site will continue into the new year. At the former Masland/IAC site, the automobile condominiums will be going in first, followed by a hotel and road construction within the site.

“Possibly we may be starting, near the end of the year, to do some of our work,” Candland said, referring to the Carlisle Connectivity project.

The project is a major piece of the budget, and the borough has received a number of grants to fund its critical components. The project includes the construction of connecting roads through former industrial sites between Fairground Avenue and College Street. Three roundabouts are planned: one at B and College streets, one at B Street and Fairground Avenue, and one at North Hanover and Penn streets.

About $20 million of the spending plan is dedicated to public works. Of that $20 million, $8 million is related to the project, Butts said.

The budget includes a proposed 4 percent increase to the water rate to help fund capital improvements to the water distribution system. That means the average household would pay an additional $3.41 per quarter on its water bill.

The sewer fund is in the fourth year of a series of planned increases that began in 2015 with a 6 percent increase and continued with another 6 percent increase in 2016 and a 4 percent increase in 2017.

A 3 percent increase is planned for 2018, which would add another $3.38 per quarter to the sewer bill for the average household.

The third increase for borough residents comes in a proposed increase in the price of borough trash bags from $3.50 per bag to $3.75 per bag. The increase comes as the collection fees per bag increased from $2.62 per bag in 2017 to $2.67 per bag in 2018 with an anticipated rise to $2.72 per bag in 2019. The cost of bags has also risen by 6 percent.

One surprise in the budget plan is that the borough will not face an increase in its health insurance premiums for its employees. The borough’s insurance broker did warn, however, that the borough has been informed it can expect premium increases of 5 to 10 percent in the coming years.


Perry_county
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Perry County
Perry County man charged in 1983 murder of wife

A Shermans Dale man was arrested Monday and charged with the 1983 murder of his wife, Debra Jane Rodgers.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro Tuesday announced the murder charge against Carl Rodgers, 62.

“For more than three decades, the family and friends of Debra Jane Rodgers have sought justice, and wondered if this day would ever come,” Shapiro said at a news conference with the Pennsylvania State Police in Perry County. “Thanks to a strong collaboration between the Pennsylvania State Police and our office, and the effective use of a statewide investigating grand jury, Carl Rodgers stands charged with murder.”

According to the attorney general’s office, Debra Rodgers was 23 at the time of her death and at the time had been living with her husband and their 5-year-old daughter in a trailer on the Rodgers’ family farm.

On the night of her disappearance, April 22, 1983, police said Debra returned home late from her job at the state park, and Carl Rodgers gave police statements about that evening that were inconsistent. He claimed his wife was depressed about her job and was suicidal, and he later admitted that they had argued and he grabbed her by the arm.

Police said Debra had applied for a job with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which would have meant a pay increase.

The day after her disappearance, Carl Rodgers called her family and told them she was missing. He led her family into the state park to search for her, and they found her car in a remote, heavily wooded area, according to the attorney general.

The search was called off, and Carl Rodgers insisted on driving her car back to the farm, despite the family’s worries that Debra could be stranded in the cold without it.

The next day, Carl Rodgers suggested he search the ridge line with Debra’s brother while the others searched the woods below. Her body was found by her mother in the area where Carl had suggested, the news release said.

Debra was found several hundred yards away from her vehicle, and her shirt was pulled halfway up as if she were dragged to the location, the release said. A knife and sheath bearing the name “Carl,” was also found near the scene.

The coroner at the time determined Debra had died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso, but both of her wrists had been deeply slashed to make it appear as though she committed suicide, the attorney general’s office said. The coroner determined those wounds were unlikely to be self-inflicted.

Last year, senior deputy attorneys Kelly Sekula and Heather Castellino met with State Police to review cold case homicides, and brought this case before an investigating grandy jury, which reexamined the evidence and heard testimony from witnesses and experts.

The grand jury recommended the murder charge. Rodgers is being held without bail.

“This case shows the commitment we have, across law enforcement, to pursue unsolved murders regardless of how many years go by,” Shapiro said. “Just as families never stop praying for loved ones they’ve lost, we will never stop seeking justice for victims anywhere and at any time in our commonwealth.”


Guido