The year’s top stories in law enforcement included a highly publicized case of incest, the downfall of a popular music teacher and a murder.
1.) Incest brings national attention. A case of a man marrying his adult daughter brought national attention to Central Nebraska.
Travis Fieldgrove, 40, had married Samantha Kershner, 21, in Hastings on Oct. 1, 2018. Fieldgrove was initially charged this year with committing incest, a Class 3 felony. But under a plea agreement, he pleaded no contest in April to attempt of a Class 3 or 3A felony.
In late May, he was sentenced in Hall County District Court to two years in prison. Credit was given for 121 days already served. According to his defense attorney, prisoners serving two-year sentences are typically released after one year. So Fieldgrove will serve 244 additional days behind bars. The judge also added 12 months of post-release supervision. During that time, he is ordered to have no contact with Kershner.
Kershner, who was originally accused of incest, was sentenced in June to nine months probation on the lesser charge of false reporting.
In Adams County District Court, Fieldgrove will be sentenced Jan. 14. He pleaded no contest to attempted incest Dec. 18 in a deal similar to the one arranged in Hall County.
2.) Lure of show choir gold provides too much temptation. Former Northwest High School teacher David Sackschewsky was arrested by Grand Island police in April, charged with taking more than $200,000 from the school’s 14 Karat Gold Show Choir funds.
On Dec. 19, Sackschewsky was sentenced in Hall County District Court. He will serve at least 86 days in jail. District Court Judge Mark Young placed Sackschewsky on five years probation and ordered him to pay $150,000 in restitution. The ruling says Sackschewsky must pay $1,700 a month to the booster club, commencing on the first day of the month following his release from incarceration and continuing for 60 months thereafter.
Sackschewsky, 47, may serve an additional 30 days beginning Sept. 1, 2020, and 60 more days starting Dec. 1, 2021. But that 90-day sentence may be waived by the court upon the recommendation of his probation officer.
3.) 16-year-old charged with murder. Arek Friedricksen, 16, was charged with the murder of Vincent Arrellano Jr. on April 24. Arrellano, 32, suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the area of 11th and Evans streets. He died later that night at CHI Health St. Francis.
Friedricksen pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. He is accused of using a Tec-9 handgun to murder Arrellano.
4.) Three adults, unborn child die in accident. Three adults and an unborn child died in a two-vehicle accident July 10 at the intersection of Highways 281 and 58 in Howard County.
Jessie Scarlett was the driver of one of the two pickups involved in the accident.
Scarlett, heading east on Highway 58, allegedly failed to stop at a stop sign. Tara Roy, 41, and Eric John, 48, were in the other truck, which was heading north on Highway 281. Roy and John, who lived northeast of Dannebrog, were dead at the scene. Their son, Samuel Lucas, had been due to arrive the day before the accident. Because the child was late, Roy was scheduled to be induced the next day.
Scarlett’s passenger, 19-year-old Briana Loveland of Grand Island, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the crash.
In a pair of plea agreements, Scarlett pleaded no contest to one count of motor vehicle homicide and one count of motor vehicle homicide of an unborn child. Both are Class 3A felonies. Scarlett, 35, will be sentenced at 10 a.m. Feb. 3.
5.) Man convicted of dragging deputy. Tristan Bush, who dragged a Hall County deputy with a car on April 12, began a long stint with the Nebraska Department of Corrections on Nov. 1. Hall County District Court Judge Andrew Butler sentenced Bush to two to three years in jail for resisting arrest using a deadly weapon, committing child abuse intentionally with no injury and third-degree assault of a health care professional. He was also sentenced to one to two years for operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest for a felony.
On April 12, Bush was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for speeding near the intersection of Old Potash and 110th Road. Deputy Draper Sullivan learned that Bush was wanted on felony warrants and attempted to arrest Bush, but he slid into the driver’s seat of the vehicle. A dog that was in the back seat attacked Bush. According to the affidavit, the dog would not release Sullivan, and the deputy “was forced to shoot the dog, as he was unable to get free of the dog and the car was driving away, dragging Deputy Sullivan.”
After the deputy “was able to get free from the dog and the car,” the affidavit says, Bush fled with his 7-year-old son inside. Another deputy, Owen Mendyk, conducted a brief pursuit “but the pursuit was terminated out of concern for the child inside of the car,” the affidavit says.
Bush, 33, pleaded no contest to the four charges, all of which are felonies. He was originally charged with five felonies and a misdemeanor. His sentences will run concurrent with each other. But they will be served consecutively to two other sentences.
6.) 14-year-old charged with attempted murder. A 14-year-old Grand Island boy was charged with attempted first-degree murder and two other felonies stemming from the assault of another juvenile on Sept. 26. Keean N. Flores was charged in Hall County Court with attempt of a Class 1/1A/1B/1C/1D felony, first-degree assault and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Court records allege the weapon was a knife.
Flores turned 14 on the day the crime was committed. He is being tried as an adult. His preliminary hearing will be at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 9.
7.) Two found dead at Red Coach Inn. Two people were found dead at the Red Coach Inn on Sept. 9. The bodies of Joshua Perkins, 38, and Shannon Sybert, 37, were found in a room at the motel, which is at 3021 S. Locust St. Autopsies ultimately showed that they died from an accidental overdose of methamphetamine.
8.) Officer cleared in shooting. Rick Ehlers, a 19-year veteran of the Grand Island Police Department, was stabbed several times in a life-and-death struggle with Benjamin Melendez on March 13. Ehlers fatally shot Melendez, 29, after being assaulted with a knife on North St. Paul Road. A grand jury concluded that Ehlers’ actions that night were justified.
In late June, Ehlers was honored with a Freedom Award at the Heartland Celebration of Freedom at Third City Christian Church.
9.) Drowning victims. Omar Martinez Cruz and Cody Reutter drowned July 26 near a dam on the Republican River. Cruz, 27, lived in Grand Island. Reutter, 29, lived in Blue Hill. They drowned while fishing at the Guide Rock Diversion Dam.
In early June, the body of missing kayaker Brett Swantek was recovered on the Loup River. Swantek, a Genoa firefighter, was 29. He had been missing since May 25.
10.) Nine-year-old’s reign of terror. For a brief stretch in July, Grand Island was seemingly terrorized by a 9-year-old boy.
In one case, the juvenile drove a Honda Civic for more than a mile before he crossed two yards and crashed into a porch at 324 Ashton Ave.
It’s unknown how much trouble the boy actually got into that week. Because of confidentiality rules involving juveniles, police couldn’t say much. But for a few days, Grand Islanders did much speculating on what the young troublemaker might get into next.