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ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana’s chief justice wants every county to adopt a drug court to help people get treatment and stay out of prison.

Madison County Drug Court started in Anderson in 2000 and, after 23 years, just over 1,300 people have participated. It’s the type of program that Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush wants to see statewide.

Madison Court Circuit Court Judge Angela Sims said, “I do think that the fact that we do have these resources in our community makes our community better.”

Sims he is one of 58 problem-solving judges in the state. Her court in Anderson presides over the county’s adult drug court, mental health court, and reentry court. The goal of the three courts is to address the root causes of crime, such as addiction, and encourage people standing in front of her court to make positive changes in their lives.

“Certainly when you’re dealing with those that come into the criminal justice system, it’s a very multifaceted problem you’re dealing with. Certainly, the drug use is kind of the gateway that gets you here, but, with what we learn about these people and those are typically addicted to drugs, again they have … their lives are kind of … live in shambles. … It’s chaotic on lots of levels, with employment, with education, with their social economic status, depending on those things. Their family unit is usually destroyed or in disrepair, and so we really work in a very holistic approach to these people. I often say in court to people that, ‘Well, judge. I’ve been sober for six months. I’ve been sober for a year,’ and I often look at them and say, you know, being sober by the easiest thing you will do in this program.” 

Who gets into drug court programs and how are they chosen was among I-Team 8’s questions a few weeks ago during an interview with Rush. She would like to see these courts expanded in Indiana to every county, as she says, to eliminate a justice-by-geography anomaly that disadvantages drug offenders depending on whether the county they are arrested has a drug court.  

Rush said, “This is what we are looking at, you know, what are the interventions in the crisis interventions. It doesn’t just start deep end. Usually, have touched that person a couple of times before, so getting that diagnosis of substance use disorder up front, it could be on a first time DUI case, and then making sure that what you order as a court are things that actually work, and we now know is evidence-based and works. So, I guess I want to say, it’s not always the rock-bottom person. You always say, ‘When they hit bottom, they’ll come up.’ I cannot tell you the parents that would come to court, into my courtroom, and say, ‘I couldn’t wait for my kid to get arrested so I could get them so help.’ We need to make the help available for those family members prior to the fall.”

Every drug court in Indiana holds a graduation for people who successfully complete the program. Many of these programs take up to two years or longer to complete. Everyone in the Madison County Drug Court program is randomly drug tested at least twice a week. In 2022, out of 6,000 drug tests, only 1% tested positive for drugs. Participants have to attend hundreds of counseling session, maintain a job, and meet with the judge at least 30 times to discuss their progress.

“It’s needing all the other pieces put together to ensure that sobriety lasts and recovery last well beyond the program, and that’s certainly our ultimate goal is that they don’t recidivize. They do not come back to the system, and they move on and they live good, productive lives in our community. So, I do think that the fact that we have these resources in our community makes our community better, and sometimes that’s hard to see because, again, we like to focus on the negative and those that don’t make it, and the tragedies that do occur in the community. But, I can equally sit down and point to, you know, a lot of people that have been successful not only in the program, but have continued to maintain success and contribute in a very positive way to our community, and so that’s important. I think the other thing we have learned throughout the process, even those that do not successfully complete the program, they have gained and garnered certain skills and tools while they’ve been here, but still allow them to build upon that even if they’re outside of the program, and some of them going to be very successful, even though they didn’t successfully complete the program.”

How does the programs’ success get measured? Numbers tell one side of the story. According to data collected from Sims’ court from 2015 to 2021, graduates of the problem-solving court program had recidivism rates of less than 20%, which is half of the national averages.  

“And if we can provide these services that keep them out of the system, keep them from committing crime again, the ripple effect of that is probably, it’s hard even to quantify when someone is restored back to sobriety and recovery. It’s just not that one person. It’s that person’s, maybe, even parents their children, their children’s children. If we’re able to restore those things and break that cycle, I see that the positive effects really, again, are pretty unquantifiable.”

Funding for problem-solving courts remains an issue. The General Assembly didn’t add any additional funding in the state budget that was just passed.

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — In a county northeast of Indianapolis, bodies are being stored in the freezer of a barn with a gravel floor.

Indiana authorities are leaning on the county government to clean things up.

The state says employees don’t have running water or proper supplies to conduct death investigations. 

The Madison County Coroner’s Office is facing some serious fines from the Indiana Department of Labor, and the whistleblower told I-Team 8 that the penalties are just the tip of the iceberg.

Katherine Callahan. a former Madison County coroner, told I-Team 8, “I will come back here to the pole barn. I will bring the body out, and I will draw my toxicology in that pole barn without any running water, without sharps containers, without anything.”

Inside of the pole barn at the end of a street just north of downtown Anderson is the Madison County Coroner’s Office freezer.

The barn doesn’t have a concrete floor, sinks, or a proper examination table.

Callahan is a nurse practitioner and, until recently, was the deputy coroner in Madison County. She turned the county in to the Indiana Department of Labor for a number safety violation.

Her breaking point came a year ago when Elwood Police Officer Noah Shahnavaz was murdered. Callahan said, “We go to remove the body from the hearse, and we get it on the gravel flooring, and it is so hot, the family, the honor guard are just sweating, and they are asking do we have any ventilation. I’m like this is the best we have got.”

Shahnavaz’s body was carried across the gravel floor and put into a walk-in freezer.

In the weeks following, Callahan raised her voice and tried to get the county commissioners to properly fund the coroner’s facility. She says her concerns fell on deaf ears.  

Callahan said, “As hurt as they were, those officers did everything. I just couldn’t do this anymore. I have been asking since we took office in January of 2021, and the only thinking I get is sent to my seat.”

The state Department of Labor found six serious violations, from no running water to how contaminated laundry and needles are disposed of.

If the county government’s leaders don’t correct the violations, they could face a fine of $22,500.

I-team 8 asked Callahan if the threat of fines will get the county to shape up,  

“This is what I was told by a commissioner who is no longer in seat: They are going to circle their wagons until they strangulate you, until they force you to tap out. That is what is going to happen. This is only going to get worse.”

Callahan owns and operates a medical practice, and, on Wednesday, she started as a deputy coroner in Marion County, which serves Indianapolis.


ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A biorefinery in Madison County is about to undergo a $25 million renovation as the facility converts from the production of ethanol to industrial alcohol used in the fight against COVID-19.

South Dakota-based POET says it will break ground Thursday on what the biofuels company calls a significant expansion of its plant in Alexandria.

The company announced plans in August to scale up production of purified alcohol, a key component of hand sanitizer and other cleaners.

POET says the decision helps to support the company’s efforts to help meet the increased demand for personal protective equipment among health care providers and frontline workers.

The Alexandria facility can produce 30-35 million gallons of ethanol. The industry faced a strong headwind during the pandemic, as travel restrictions impacted fuel demand.

POET says at the peak of COVID-19, the industry saw a 50% drop in fuel demand.

The company expects the renovated facility to be operational in early 2021. POET says it will hire six additional people for the plant.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says it offered POET up to $100,000 from the Industrial Development Grant Fund to support on-site infrastructure improvements at the company’s facility.

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WISH) —The brother of missing Alexandria, Indiana, native Suzanne Morphew arrived Wednesday in Colorado to prepare for a six-day volunteer search expedition.

Andy Moorman believes his younger sister’s remains are buried within a 2.5-hour drive of the Salida, Colo. home she shared with her husband and their two daughters, he told News 8.

Morphew, 49, was reported missing on Mother’s Day after relatives were unable to reach her and asked a neighbor to check on her.

Phone records show her cell activity stopped the previous day, May 9, after she sent text messages to a friend whose wedding plans were disrupted by pandemic restrictions.

Moorman suspected his sister felt “isolated” and “lonely” in Colorado long before quarantine. 

Her husband, Barry Morphew, relocated the family from Indiana to Colorado in spring 2018.

He was an avid hunter who “liked the great outdoors” and adjusted quickly to life in Colorado, where their eldest daughter was attending college, according to Moorman.

Suzanne Morphew missed her friends and family in Indiana but charmed people in her new town.

“The few people that she met in the two years she was [in Colorado] are all in on this search,” Moorman said. “She made friends with hairdressers, restaurant owners [and people] every place she went in, and they all loved her. Every one of those people has stepped forward to help.”

Moorman helped mobilize an “army” of approximately 500 volunteers within weeks, including dozens of Hoosiers who knew Morphew and strangers from across the nation who were captivated by the investigation into her disappearance.

The volunteers will search mountainous areas surrounding the Morphews’ Salida home from Thursday through Sept. 29 with the support of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Volunteers will be checked in and out of searches daily to ensure safety. Medical personnel will be stationed at each checkpoint. Search activities will not extend past 4 p.m. 

“I realize that what I’m looking for at this point is probably a person that’s passed and I’m prepared for that,” Moorman said. “But if they find her, I’m going to stop back immediately and I’m going to let the authorities take over. I don’t think that’s something I’m ready to see.”

He suspected his sister was the victim of foul play and died months ago.

Authorities searched the Salida home multiple times and a construction site where Barry Morphew was paid to lay dirt but found no remains and made no arrests in the case.

Barry Morphew is not expected to join the search expedition, according to Moorman.

“Last-minute” volunteers interested in contributing to the search effort can sign up online.

UPDATE: Silver Alert 086-2020 issued on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020 on Leah C. Semon has been canceled as of Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. For more information on this cancellation, please contact the Alexandria Police Department at 765-642-0221.

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WISH) — A 69-year-old woman is missing from Alexandria, according to an Indiana Silver Alert.

Leah C. Semon was last seen at 10 a.m. Tuesday wearing a blue nightgown with a floral pattern and driving a silver 2018 Honda CRV with Indiana plate WWJ389.

Semon was described at 5-feet-2 and 190 pounds with blonde hair with brown eyes.

She is believed to be in danger and may require medical help.

Alexandria is about 55 miles north of Indianapolis, according to the Silver Alert.

Anyone with information was asked to the Alexandria Police Department at 765-642-0221 or 911.

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A basketball coach has been arrested after being accused of raping a teenager at gunpoint in an elementary school parking lot.

Marc Jones Jr., 27, was arrested Thursday in the case.

Jones is travel team coach not affiliated with a school.

He faces preliminary charges of:

According to the Alexandria Police Department, a 15-year-old girl accused Jones of raping her in the Frankton Elementary parking lot in August 2019 while holding a loaded gun to her head.

She said she was also sexually assaulted by him in November at Park Place Community Center in Anderson.

Alexandria police also say Jones was arrested in Anderson on similar charges from a separate victim.

Student attacked at Alexandria Monroe High School

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WISH) — An eighth-grader attacked in a locker room at Alexandria-Monroe High School said he believed he was the victim of a hate crime.

The openly gay student, who requested not to be identified in this report, said he was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

Alexandria police confirmed Friday they were investigating the Tuesday morning incident but said they had “not uncovered any evidence” the victim’s orientation played a role in the attack.

“I was in the locker room after third period gym,” the victim told News 8. “And the guy who attacked me was standing at my locker, being creepy. He asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I was like, ‘I’m changing.'”

He identified the alleged aggressor as a 10th-grader who was in his gym class at the junior-senior high school. The two students were not friends and rarely interacted, the eighth-grader said.

“[The 10th-grader] started shoving me with his shoulder,” he told News 8. “He hit me two times in the head and then hit my face against the mirror. And then [he hit me] a couple more times to my face.”

Two students recorded video footage of the locker room incident on their phones, police said.

The students had taken their phones out — in violation of school policy — and appeared to be recording before the 10th-grader confronted him, according to the victim, leading him to believe the attack was planned.

The footage quickly circulated to the eighth-grader’s mother. She was on campus for a parent-teacher conference when a friend texted her a 4-second clip of the video.

“I thought I was going to throw up,” she said. “In the video, you see my son is backed up against the wall, kind of like a corner of the concrete wall by the mirror. This kid’s in front of him and there are kids on either side, blocking his escape. [The 10th-grader] just squats down and starts wailing on his face and head.”

The 4-second video clip, provided to News 8 by the victim’s mother, shows the student punching him four times.

“It all happened so fast,” the eighth-grader said. “The whole thing lasted under a minute.”

The assault ended when the 10th-grader was pulled off of him by another student, he said.

The victim sustained a broken nose, bruised eye and scratches behind his ear, his mother said.

“We are deeply troubled by Tuesday’s assault in the high school boys locker room,” Melissa Brisco, the superintendent of Alexandria Community Schools, said in a statement to News 8. “We want to assure our families and community that we will continue to work hard to provide a safe, caring and supportive learning environment for all our students.”

She declined further comment, citing their ongoing administrative investigation.

Authorities declined to provide incident reports to News 8.

No charges had been filed Friday night.

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WISH) — Jennifer Clark is the wife of Michael and the mother of two darling special needs children. The Clark family has been hit with many tests over the past several years. This year proved to be no exception.

The family lives in a small yellow home with a leaky roof in Alexandria. Medical bills have been piling up for years.

(Provided Photo/Clark Family)

The tests began with the birth of their daughter. Diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, doctors told Michael and Jennifer to enjoy their time with Suzie, because she likely wouldn’t make it past the age of 1. Four open-heart surgeries and more than 40 angioplasties later, at age 12, their walking miracle is still the life of the party.

The youngest child, Noah, was born in 2009. Kidney issues and spinal surgeries plagued his young body. Autism and ADHD plagued his mind.

“I told god, I said man, I tap out,” said Michael Clark. “No more tests because we’ve been loyal and I didn’t understand why the tests keep coming.”

Through everything, Jennifer was the family’s rock.

“It’s just tragic,” said family friend Steve Williams. “This family has known hardship for just so long and it’s sad.”

Always prepared with the reality of having to say goodbye to their daughter, on Jan. 25, Jennifer received news that meant her daughter may be the one saying goodbye to her. Having never smoked a day in her life, Jennifer was diagnosed with noncurable, nonsmall-cell lung cancer.

“We knew it was bad when the doctor offered for the nurse to take the kids out,” Michael said.

Usually not aggressive, her mutation was. By just the second CT scan, cancer had spread throughout her body.

(Provided Photo/Clark Family)

The Clark’s community knew they needed to step up and support the family. Friends Connie and Steve Williams wrote to the WISH Patrol.

“We just wanted to let her know that she’s not alone in this,” Connie Williams said. “We’re all there and we’re going to fight with her.”

The WISH Patrol had originally planned to surprise Jennifer and the entire Clark family with some special outings to create more special family memories. But five days prior to our surprise, we learned we needed to get to the hospital soon. Jennifer took a turn and doctors put her under.

(Provided Photo/Clark Family)

The WISH Patrol team quickly changed course and headed to the hospital.

Jennifer’s biggest concern was making sure her family was taken care of. The Clark’s home desperately needed a new roof.

TJ Elbert of Elbert Roofing quickly answered the call, offering to install a brand new roof on the Clarks’ Alexandria home.

“It just really makes you think,” said TJ Elbert. “Everybody has their ups and downs but what they’ve been through in the last year. It’s just a lot for anybody and it’s really humbling to think we were able to help out and it’s an honor to be able to do it.”

Hot Box Pizza generously donated dinner for family and friends gathered at Community Hospital Anderson to say goodbye.

Bokay Florist provided floral arrangements to help celebrate Jennifer’s beautiful life.

As Jennifer laid peacefully in her hospital bed just feet down the hall, family and friends spent the evening praying together, smiling together, remembering the good times, and crying over those that will never come.

Five days later, on the day the WISH Patrol originally planned to surprise Jennifer, she was surprised far more by the glory of heaven, ushered in as one of the richest people in the world, that is, if moments were money.

Michael Clark lost his wife and is now left raising his two children alone. If you would like to help the family in this trying time, a GoFundMe page has been established in Mike’s name. 

If you would like to nominate someone for a future WISH Patrol, click here

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. (WISH) — A 65-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday night in a crash in Madison County, the sheriff said. 

The man was identified Monday as Gary Durham of Alexandria. 

Sheriff Scott Mellinger said deputies responded about 8:20 p.m. Sunday to a 911 call about the crash on County Road 900 North east of County Road 425 East. That’s east of Alexandria. 

The sheriff said Monday afternoon that Durham was westbound on 900 North and left the road for unknown reasons. He traveled about 100 feet off the road before returning onto it with the motorcycle on its side in the road.

Durham had a serious head injury, but the cause of death has yet to be determined, the sheriff said Monday. Durham was not wearing a helmet.

The motorcycle was the only vehicle in the crash. No one else was on the motorcycle.

No witnesses to the crash have come forward, the sheriff said. Anyone with information was urged to call Anderson-Madison County Crime Stoppers at 765-649-8310 or the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 765-646-9290, Ext.1.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The band from Decatur Central High School and Alexandria-Monroe High School cheerleaders stopped by “Daybreak” on Friday morning.

The two groups showed off their skills Friday morning ahead of the return of the Zone 8. On Friday night, send us photos of your band, cheerleaders and any scene from high school football games across central Indiana. On Twitter, tag your photo #TheZone8 or email it to us at

The Zone 8 makes its return Friday evening at 11:08 p.m. on WISH-TV and will have highlights of 21 high school football games from around the state. The Zionsville Community High School drum line will also be performing live in studio. 

Click on the videos to watch the band and cheerleaders on Daybreak.

App users can click here to see the cheerleader video online.