Top ten crime stories of 2023


AUGUST—Terry Jewell was found guilty in the shooting murder of Rodney Queen, of West Portsmouth. Jewell and Queen were roommates and Queen allowed Jewell to live at his farm in exchange for help with the farm. After a night of drinking, Queen was shot in the head and died the next day at an area hospital. Queen’s daughter was a witness at the trial and gave the family’s victim impact statement. Jewell is imprisoned at the Noble Correctional Institution for a minimum of 20 years to life on the charges of murder and having a weapon under disability.

SEPTEMBER—Rusty Rule was arrested and sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in the vehicular manslaughter and hit-skip death of well-known Portsmouth musician Rich Moon. Moon was crossing the intersection at Chillicothe Street and U.S. 52 one night when Rule, who said he was high on fentanyl at the time, struck him. Moon died soon after. Rule is incarcerated at Chillicothe Correctional Institution for 4.5 years.

JANUARY—A baby girl’s parents, grandfather, and grandfather’s girlfriend have been sentenced for her death after she was exposed to the deadly drug fentanyl. Expert witnesses who performed the baby’s autopsy said she had the highest amount of fentanyl in her blood than they had ever seen in their long careers. Justin Sheets, the baby’s grandfather, and his girlfriend, Amye Knott, were sentenced in December to 10 to 15 years in prison. The baby’s parents, Robert Filius and Michaela Hupp, were also sentenced to prison. Filius was sentenced to 4.75 years in state prison and is currently at the Correctional Reception Center. Hupp pleaded to endangering children, possession of fentanyl, and aggravated possession of drugs. She was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

JULY—Michael Smith arrested for aggravated murder and passing bad checks after his mother is found injured in the floorboard of a vehicle at Portsmouth Kroger parking lot. She died the next day. Smith then reportedly jumped off the U.S. Grant Bridge. He survived and is due in court again in January.

DECEMBER—Teacher and South Webster High School track coach Nikki Johnson was arrested for sexual battery involving student. Johnson posted $1,000 bond on Dec. 14 and was released from jail. She is due back in Scioto County Court of Common Pleas on Jan. 31.

APRIL — Portsmouth couple Jeremy Bryant and Breonna Phipps arrested after the ATV death of Phipps’ 8-year-old son in a collision. Bryant was found to be under the influence at the time of the collision. Phipps was also charged because she was aware he was inebriated. Bryant is currently housed at Southeastern Correctional Institution for a minimum of eight years for involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child. Phipps is housed at the Ohio Reformatory for Women for a minimum of seven years on the same charges.

JULY — Aden Greene, 17, arrested for murder and charged as an adult. Greene is alleged to have killed Nathaniel Chase McQuinley, 20, of Wheelersburg at a party in July. Greene is currently housed at Chillicothe’s South Central Ohio Juvenile Detention Center on multiple charges of murder and felonious assault. He currently has no dates set to appear in Scioto County Court of Common Pleas.

JULY —Matthew Vansickle, 58, was arrested in July on charges of involuntary manslaughter for neglect of someone who is functionally impaired, resulting in the individual’s death. Southern Ohio Medical Center staff contacted law enforcement about a patient who had suffered abuse. The woman was 79-year-old Patricia Vansickle. She was transported to hospice before dying of injuries due to neglect. Vansickle is currently housed at the Scioto County Jail on charges of failure to provide for a functionally impaired person and involuntary manslaughter. His jury trial is due to begin on Feb. 26 in Scioto County Court of Common Pleas.

SEPTEMBER—Ronald Pace was arrested for the rape of someone with disabilities. Pace, a former caretaker for people with disabilities, pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to 5 to 7.5 years in state prison.

SEPTEMBER—Brooklyn Frazie was arrested for aggravated murder, multiple charges of murder, and felonious asasult, after engaging in a high-speed chase from Shumway Hollow which ended with her running over her boyfriend, Scott Donohoe. Donohoe had been on a motorcycle with Frazie allegedly chasing him in an SUV. She reportedly ran over him in New Boston. She is then said to have backed up and run over him again, dragging him for som distance. Donohoe was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Frazie is due back in Common Pleas court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 5.

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