Thursday, March 25, 2004

Newtown slaying still a mystery



By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEWTOWN - Sheriff's deputies were no closer Wednesday to finding James Chisenhall's killer than they were Sunday morning, when the 45-year-old night clerk's bullet-riddled body was found on the floor of a Church Street convenience store.

"There are no suspects and no real leads," said Steve Barnett of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, which has been investigating the shooting at the Shell gas station and convenience store since Sunday morning, when Newtown police handed off the investigation.

Chisenhall, a Milford resident who worked the overnight shift at the store, died at University Hospital shortly after being found lying on the floor of the office area about 2 a.m. Sunday.

At the noon hour Wednesday, a steady stream of customers came in and out of the store, many of them leaving $1, $5 and $10 bills in a bowl on the counter next to a picture of Chisenhall. The money, a store employee said, is being collected to support the family of the slain clerk, who leaves behind a wife, seven children and eight grandchildren.

Donations for the Jim Chisenhall Sr. Memorial Family Fund are also being taken at all Fifth Third Bank locations.

The homicide in Newtown, a village of 2,400 in the middle of Anderson Township, was the first in 17 years.

Mayor John Hammon said people in the village are talking about Chisenhall's death, although the subject did not come up at Tuesday night's Village Council meeting.

"This is a small town and people aren't used to this kind of thing here," said Hammon. "It shocked a lot of people."

Hammon said he does not think most people in Newtown knew the victim, because of the shift he worked.

"But, still, it is an awful thing to have happen," Hammon said.

Hammon said he does not know if the Chisenhall's slaying - which police believe was the result of an armed robbery attempt - will mean increased police patrols overnight by the village's 11-member police force.

"The chief runs the department; that would be his call," Hammon said.

Police Chief Daryl Zornes declined to comment on the convenience-store shooting.

Barnett said Wednesday the case is being investigated as a robbery-homicide.

In most convenience-store robberies, police are aided by videotape from store security cameras, but deputies found a camera with no videotape at the Newtown store.

"It's not clear if the videotape was taken by whoever did this or if there wasn't any tape in the machine," Barnett said.

Barnett said the case was unusual because it took place in the middle of a small town, far from any interstate highway entrances that give a robber or robbers a quick escape.

E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com




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