Monday, October 29, 2001

Long-time detective retiring

Vallandingham recently worked on rape case

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The conviction of two men this month in the rape of a 5-year-old girl left infected with genital herpes is the latest high-profile criminal case Detective Charles ""Bud'' Vallandingham has investigated — and probably his last.

        After nearly 29 years with Covington Police, he is retiring Nov. 19. Mr. Vallandingham is the senior detective in the crime bureau and has worked many of the murders and other high-profile cases in Northern Kentucky's largest city.

        “Bud is what I would consider an "old school' policeman,” said Covington Attorney Rob Sanders. “He knows half of Covington on a first-name basis, especially on his former beat in Latonia. He's hard-nosed and at times a little cynical, but he cares about his job and always gets his man.”

        Other high-profile cases Mr. Vallandingham has helped solve include:

        • The killing of Covington landlord Estill Davidson, 67, who was shot to death in January 2000 in a dispute over a rent payment.

        • The death of Kimberly Sue Sipe, 24, of Newport. Her body washed ashore along the Licking River in January 1998 after she was killed by a former boyfriend.

        • The death of Roy Thomas “Tommy” Faulconer, 48, of Covington. He was stabbed while he sat on his couch inside his Latonia, Ky., apartment in August 1999. He was killed in an argument with his friend.

        Mr. Sanders, a former prosecutor, said he worked with Mr. Vallandingham on several cases, but it was the veteran officer's work on the recent child-rape case that was most impressive.

        A Kenton County jury found two Tristate men guilty in August of raping the girl, who was 5 years old at the time, over a three-month period two-and-a-half years ago. Jurors recommended that Brian Asbury, a former live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother, be imprisoned 40 years and Carl "Bud' Pennington Jr. be imprisoned 35 years.

        Mr. Sanders said Mr. Vallandingham was available day, night, weekends and vacations to see that justice was done.

        “Bud has been around forever, and it was hard to get him excited about anything,” said Mr. Sanders. “It was like they (Asbury and Pennington) woke up Bud, a sleeping giant. He went after this case with more vigor than a rookie cop. There was no stopping him to bringing these guys to justice.”

        Mr. Vallandingham says crimes involving children upset him the most.

        “I worry about the little girl raped,” he said. “I don't want to think it will affect her in later years. I want her to overcome this. This case bothered me more than any other.”

        The 53-year-old father of two grown children and five

        grandchildren said, “I have seen a lot, and eventually you get tired of seeing it.” Mr. Vallandingham said after his retirement, he plans to spend more time with his grandchildren to make up for time he didn't spend with his own children.

        “I basically missed my children growing up,” he said. “Now I am watching what I missed my children doing through my grandchildren.”

        Mr. Vallandingham's wife, Fran, said her husband worked a lot of overtime and third shifts early in his career.

        “I was the mother, father, dentist, doctor, lawyer or anything else that came alone,” said Mrs. Vallandingham, who stayed home to raise the couple's children. “There were rough times, but that was the way the job was. And he loved his work.”

        The couple has been married for 33 years.

        Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney Jack Porter Jr. said Mr. Vallandingham was one of the three best police officers he has ever worked with. Mr. Porter was a police officer for eight-and-a-half years — working for Campbell County, Covington, and Highland Heights — before becoming a prosecutor.

        “I am now approaching 50, and when I look back, I realize he (Mr. Vallandingham) was one of the people who had an impact on my life. He helped me become a better police officer.”

        Covington Police Chief Tom Schonecker said Mr. Vallandingham will be hard to replace.

        “Bud is one of the best,” Mr. Schonecker said. “He is irreplaceable. We can replace him as a detective, but not as an individual. Everyone tried to talk him into staying, everyone.”


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