Top News Stories for 2020

A look at the top ten stories from 2020

10.  Police need help locating Hope woman — March 12, 2020 
Hope, IN — It has been a month since Donna Mitchell has gone missing. The Hope Police Department has interviewed many people, have searched every conceivable route from Hartsville to Letts as well as an aerial search complements of the Indiana State Police and still no leads.

She was last confirmed at the Brown Bottle liquor store in Hartsville around 8:00 pm on the night she went missing, February 11. She was documented by video walking out the door and has not been seen since.
As police continue to investigate, they are asking anyone with any information to please come forward-no matter how significant or insignificant you think your information is. HPD also asks that property owners between Hartsville and Letts search your property for anything that may have been missed.

Update: 2.17.2020
The Hope Police Department is continuing to investigate the disappearance of Donna Mitchell
Police are asking anyone with cameras that face the road along County Line Road, 700 South, and 60 South West in Decatur County please contact them to view any video that may help in our investigation.
If you have any information regarding Donna Mitchell contact us at 812-546-4015 or your local law enforcement agency. The Silver Alert remains in effect.

Original Story: The Hope Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Donna Mitchell, 57, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 115 pounds, brown hair with brown eyes. She was last seen wearing glasses, a tan Carhartt jacket, blue jeans with a flower decal on the pant leg. She is believed to be driving a maroon 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer and the front bumper is hanging by a coat hanger with Indiana license plate 902QAK. Her family indicates that she left Hope on Tuesday to visit a friend in Letts and would have taken the back roads to get there.
Donna is missing from Hope and was last seen on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 7:30 pm. She is believed to be in danger and may require medical assistance. If you have any information on Donna Mitchell, contact the Hope Police Department at 812-546-4015 or 911.

Pictured (front row, left-right): Cassie Holtel, Steven Harmeyer, Sarah Garvin, Jordan Miller, Amelia Kubicek, Angela Byers, Kayla Meyer, Jocelyn Xenophontos (back row, left-right): Paul Satchwill, Brent Schebler, Mary Meyer, Dawn Koch. Not pictured: Guadalupe Blanco, Hillary Layne.

9. New Diversity & Inclusivity Group Forms in Batesville Area — July 13, 2020
Batesville, IN — A new group focused on creating positive community change has formed in Batesville. Batesville Area for Inclusion and Diversity is a citizen’s coalition with a mission of “collaborating within our community for a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable culture of belonging where all are welcomed, valued, and empowered.” This group will work toward bringing meaningful, educational, and impactful programming and events to Batesville and the surrounding area.
“BAID is a group of people who want to have a positive impact on our community in regards to inclusion and diversity,” says member Paul Satchwill. “We want to make sure that all voices in our community are heard, valued, and represented. It is important to discuss these large issues no matter where you live. BAID is excited to engage with our community on such important topics.”
BAID is accepting programming suggestions and volunteers for future events and initiatives. If interested, you can contact [email protected] for more information.

8. Man charged with murder of South Dearborn graduate — July 21, 2020 
Dillsboro, IN– Murder charges were formally filed today in the death of Paycin K. Kritlow, 18, a recent South Dearborn graduate, of Moores Hill.
At a little before 1:30 am on Sunday, a 911 call was placed regarding a man who was shot in the neck at a graduation party for Tyler Baker. Upon arrival, Sheriff’s Deputies observed Paycin, who was deceased, laying in the driveway of the residence of William “Billy” Baker. Law enforcement observed a large, open wound to Paycin’s neck from a gunshot. Police would later learn that the shot entered Paycin’s back and exited through his neck. Paycin was at the Baker’s home for a graduation party for his friend, Tyler.

Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department Detectives stated that a witness, Baker’s brother-in-law, alleges that while at the party, as it got later, that he was seated at a table near the garage when he heard a boom. The man stated that it felt like some debris had struck him. Then he saw a boy laying on the ground. Another witness pulled the victim, who had been shot, closer to the house. The brother-in-law observed his sister, Baker’s wife to be screaming and holding or attempting to hold Baker. He then learned Baker had a knife and was threatening to slit his own throat. The knife was taken from Baker. Baker was making remarks like, “that’s the boy who just raped your niece…..let me go.”

Baker was advised of his rights and told police that he shot Paycin. He went on to allege that his seventeen (17) year old daughter told him she had been raped and that she pointed out to him the person who did this to her. Baker went on to say that he walked into the front door of his house and proceeded downstairs to the gun cabinet. Baker retrieved his 30-.06 rifle, walked out the back door of the home and went to his shed, which was lit, so he could see through the scope (of the gun). Baker said he then aimed, located the man his daughter identified, pulled the trigger and shot him.

Police interviewed Baker’s 17-year-old daughter who Baker believed had been raped. The daughter stated that at no time did she tell her father that she had been sexually assaulted, that day or any other day. The daughter went on to say that she was unaware of any other person present at the party who made any such statements regarding any sexual assault.
A search warrant was obtained for the residence. Officers located an open box of 30-.06 caliber shells on the bed, in the basement with six shells missing. Officers found a spent shell casing near the shed and5 other shells either in the rifle, in Baker’s pocket, or near the rifle.

7. Greensburg man in custody with ties to rape and assault cases from the 80’s — August 18, 2020
Shelbyville, IN — Police have arrested a Greensburg man who is believed to have been connected to a series of rapes and assaults in Shelby County between 1982-1985. Steven Ray Hessler, 57, of Greensburg is in custody and awaiting charges from the Shelby County Prosecutor’s Office. No further details are available at this time.

According to a 1985 newspaper article from the Indianapolis Star, police allege that the investigation into the assaults had been hampered by the fact that the victims waited over 48 hours to report the crime, fearing that the assailants would return. At that time, the rapist was described as 5’8″ or 5’9″ tall, weighing around 180-190 lbs., and in his mid-30s. In the first two rapes, a knife was used in the crimes, but victims of later assaults allege a revolver was used. Hessler faces 24 felony criminal charges with 10 victims for home invasion sexual assaults from 1982-85.

6. Increase in trash collection fee passes at Council meeting — September 9, 2020
Greensburg, IN — During the Greensburg City Council meeting, held Tuesday evening, the Council voted 5-0 on the 2nd reading for an ordinance to raise the trash collection fees immediately. Effective on the October 2020 water bill, there will be an increase from $3 to $12. This increase is due to the increase in costs over the years for the street department to drop off the collected trash at the dump.
The ordinance also has provisions to collect an additional $5 per extra trash can collected per household and allows for a 3% increase each year starting in 2022.

5. Courthouse to close for removal of copula — October 29, 2020
Brookville, IN — On Tuesday, The Franklin County Commissioners announced that the County Courthouse will be closed on November 4 for much-needed repairs. The copula on top of the clock tower will be removed and a temporary roof will be installed according to Commissioner Tom Wilson.

Leaking and rotting over the years as well as issues with the timbers below the bell tower are now beyond repair, which has caused it to start leaning significantly to the east. A new bell tower will be made out of metal and should be built in the next 14 weeks for replacement.

US 52 will be closed on that day while work is being done and traffic will be rerouted around the courthouse to Mill Street.

4. Thanksgiving Eve Fire Destroys Milan’s Hog Rock Cafe November 27, 2020
Milan, IN – A fire late Thanksgiving Eve and into early Thanksgiving Morning has destroyed The Hog Rock Cafe in Milan.

The fire took place just before 11 PM on Wednesday Evening with flames shooting from the top of the roof and the building was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. No injuries were reported.
The Hog Rock Cafe located at East Carr Street, just off State Highway 101, in Milan is owned by Jeff and Chrissy Lanham.

Volunteers and firemen from the area came together on Saturday, December 12 outside of the Hog Rock Cafe and raised money for the local business.
Over 400 cars came from all over the Tri-State area to donate over $39,000 to the restaurant’s bartenders and waitresses, who lost their jobs when a fire completely destroyed the building on November 26.

3. UPDATE: Possible shots fired in Batesville — November 16, 2020
Batesville, INUpdate — Around 8 am Monday, November 16, the Batesville Police were dispatched to a home off of Bridlewood Trace for a domestic disturbance. The female caller reported at that time that a male, Joshua Evans, age 32, of Batesville, in the home was acting irrationally. When officers responded at the scene, they were able to aid an adult female and three small children to leave the residence.
The investigators allege that Evans fired shots at police on two occasions, with debris from the first shot hitting an officer, leaving the officer with minor injuries. Both the Greensburg Police Department and the Indiana State Police SWAT team assisted at the scene.
After negotiations, Evans fired more shots at police before exiting the garage with a gun in hand. Three troopers with the Indiana State Police SWAT Team and an officer with the Greensburg Police Department fired shots during the incident. Evans was struck by at least one shot. He was provided with immediate first aid but died as a result of the injuries he sustained.

Original Story — Around 8 am Monday November 16, the Batesville Police were dispatched to a home off of Bridlewood Trace for a domestic disturbance. The female caller reported at that time that a male, Joshua Evans, age 32, of Batesville, in the home was acting irrationally. When officers responded at the scene, they were able to aid an adult female and three small children to leave the residence.

When officers attempted to make contact with the male, shots were fired from the residence towards the officers. A perimeter was then formed and a request was made for additional officers on the scene. At some point, additional shots were fired from the residence from the male suspect. Officers attempted throughout the incident to resolve the issue peacefully.
At around 11:30 am, the male exited the garage, armed with a handgun. At this time the male was shot by officers. He was given immediate medical attention and transferred to Margaret Mary Health where he succumbed to his injuries.

An officer on the scene was hit by debris from a shot that was fired during the incident. The officer is reported as having minor injuries. No other officers were hurt.

All names and ages are currently being withheld while this is still currently an active investigation with the toxicology reports pending on the deceased. The Indiana State Police Swat Team were on the scene along with the Batesville Police Department, Batesville EMS, and the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office.

2. Batesville Fire & Rescue Responds to House Fire with Fatality, 9 Displaced — August 31, 2020
Batesville, IN – Batesville Fire and Rescue responded to a report of a residential structure fire on Park Avenue around 1:15 am on Monday. Fire crews and law enforcement arrived within moments to discover the two-story home was fully engulfed in flames.

While on the scene, firefighters were informed that a person was potentially trapped inside the residence. Firefighters immediately began search and rescue efforts which led to the discovery of the victim. As a result, there was one fatality reported from the fire. Batesville Fire and Rescue will not be releasing the name of the deceased at this time. A total of nine residents of the home were displaced due to the destruction.

The fire remains under investigation by the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office. Batesville Fire & Rescue was provided mutual aid by Morris Volunteer Fire Department and Oldenburg Eagle Fire Department and assisted by the Batesville Police Department, Sunman Area Life Squad, and the American Red Cross. Crews were on the scene well into Monday morning


And the top story of 2020…

New Stay at Home order extends orders limiting state government services and restaurant, bar restrictions March 25-April 7, 2020 – March 25, 2020
Statewide —On Monday, Governor Eric J. Holcomb today issued a new two-week Stay At Home order designed to limit interactions. While the Stay At Home order continues mostly as is, modifications and restrictions have been made to limit interactions among people.

* Retail businesses that provide necessities of life may remain open but should limit the number of customers in the establishment at any given time; implement hours for elderly and other vulnerable populations, as well as limit hours of operation to restock and clean; and comply with all mitigation measures to protect employees and the public. A list of such businesses is included in the executive order.

*All other retail businesses may remain open if they restrict sales to online or call-in ordering with delivery or curbside pickup.

* Professional services should be conducted virtually or by telephone.

*All campgrounds will be closed except for those who use recreational vehicles or cabins as their primary residence. State parks remain open to daily visitors.

*Hoosiers are reminded that all public and private gatherings of any kind that include more than 10 people are prohibited.

*All employers, regardless of type, must continue to comply with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) standards and safety and health standards established and enforced by IOSHA. IOSHA is actively accepting and investigating complaints of violations. The complaint process may be accessed at

*In addition to IOSHA investigations, Gov. Holcomb has directed the creation of a multi-agency enforcement response team, led by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to respond to and investigate other violations of the new order. Much like the enforcement of the restaurant, bar and nightclub executive order, this team will be charged with helping business owners comply with the order before issuing a directive to close a business.