Crime Watch 8

Beech Grove High School basketball coach arrested for dealing cocaine

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — The basketball coach at Beech Grove High School was arrested Monday in Henry County for dealing and possessing cocaine.

Michael Renfro Jr. faces charges of dealing cocaine between 1 and 5 grams, possession of cocaine, operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering a person, and public intoxication, according to documents from the court and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. He was released from the Henry County jail Wednesday on a $2,300 cash bond.

Renfro has been suspended by Beech Grove City Schools pending further investigation, Superintendent Laura Hammack said in a letter to parents Wednesday.

A Henry County sheriff’s deputy pulled over the coach driving a white GMC Acadia SUV shortly before midnight Sunday on I-70 eastbound about 2 miles east of the New Castle exit for State Road 3. He was pulled over failing to use a turn signal while changing lanes and straddling the white lane divider, the deputy’s report says. The deputy says he was alerted by a large number of vehicles behind the SUV in both lanes of the interstate.

After being stopped, the coach admitted he’d had “a couple” of drinks and asked if he could call his wife to come pick him up, the police report says. He later was found to have a blood-alcohol count of 0.24. Indiana’s threshold to be considered as driving drunk is 0.08.

When stopped, Renfro was driving to Beech Grove from the bar he owned on the south side of Indianapolis, he told the arresting deputy. The section of I-70 where he was driving is about a 50-minute drive east of Beech Grove.

Another deputy arrived, and the two deputies asked Renfro to take a field sobriety test, and Renfro agreed.

The arresting deputy wrote in the police report, “Before I could explain the instructions to his (sobriety text), Mr. Renfro Jr. leaned against the rear of his vehicle and started crying and told (the other deputy) and myself that he is a basketball coach and gym teacher at Beech Grove High School and asked me not to post this in the news.”

Renfro was put into handcuffs after the sobriety test.

A search of the SUV found a folded dollar bill between the driver’s seat and the floor mat, which police know is a common method for hiding narcotics. The police report says the deputies asked Renfro what the white powder inside the dollar bill was, and he responded that it was “either cocaine or meth.”

A chemical test determined the powder was cocaine.

A further search of the SUV found more folder dollar bills under the driver’s floor mat as well as multiple small baggies of a white substance, the police report says.

In total, authorities found 1.86 grams of cocaine in the SUV, the police report says.

Renfro is scheduled to be formally charged the morning of Aug. 30 in Henry Circuit Court 2 in New Castle.

Statement

Dear Families and Staff:

I am writing with some very troubling news. Earlier this evening, I was informed that a Beech Grove High School teacher and coach, Mr. Mike Renfro, was arrested by the Henry County Sheriff’s Department on numerous charges, including possessing and dealing drugs. 

Like you, I am deeply troubled by these allegations. Mr. Renfro has been suspended pending further investigation. The district intends to fully cooperate with law enforcement officers as they conduct their investigation. Because this is an ongoing investigation, there is little else we can share now. However, we know that when events like this happen, the entire school and district are impacted. We want to ensure that you have the appropriate support during this difficult time. School officials and district counselors will be available to answer students’ questions during the next several days. 

Some in our community may understandably question the district’s hiring practices and how something like this could happen. Please know that the individual in question passed all criminal and other background checks required during the hiring process. However, as a district, we will review our human resources practices and address any potential areas of concern.  

While we will share more details regarding this investigation when we can do so, our focus now will continue to be on our students and their physical and social-emotional wellbeing.

Laura Hammack, superintendent of Beech Grove Schools