State briefs


Ohioan killed mom, girlfriend while high on bath salts

MOUNT VERNON — Investigators say a central Ohio man now charged with murder confessed to fatally shooting his mother and girlfriend with a pistol at home while high on the drug known as bath salts.

Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville says other felony charges filed Thursday allege 31-year-old Travis Bonham, of Mount Vernon, took his mother’s pistol from her home and destroyed a cellphone after the slayings. Another charge alleges he was prohibited from having a weapon because of a prior domestic violence conviction.

It wasn’t clear if he has an attorney. Court records listed none for him.

Authorities say Bonham was arrested days after 50-year-old Sandra Stelk and 23-year-old Jaime Linn Barber were shot Sept. 29.

McConville says Bonham has a bond hearing Friday. He could face life in prison if convicted.

Ohio island’s ex-police chief guilty of disorderly conduct

PORT CLINTON — A fired Ohio island police chief has been convicted on a disorderly conduct charge after being cleared of aggravated menacing.

Former Put-in-Bay chief Ric Lampela was found guilty Thursday of a minor misdemeanor offense over a confrontation with two officers five years ago.

A judge fined Lampela $150 on the disorderly conduct charge.

State and county investigators also had accused Lampela of refusing to look into sexual assault claims from two employees against a former officer. Investigators said the chief wanted to prevent negative publicity for the department

But he was cleared on dereliction of duty and falsification charges on Wednesday.

Lampela didn’t comment after the ruling Thursday.

Feds: Man coerced teens in 5 states into recording sex acts

CINCINNATI — An Ohio man lied about having cancer while coercing teen girls in five states into exposing themselves to him online, including one whom he persuaded to mutilate herself and act as his “slave,” the FBI said.

A federal grand jury this week indicted Nicholas Kurtz, 21, of the Cincinnati suburb of Clearcreek Township, on two counts of coercion and enticement. One charge involves trying to get individuals to engage in prostitution or other criminal sexual activity and the second alleges trying to get individuals under age 18 to commit sexual offenses.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges Thursday. A magistrate ordered that he remain held in custody.

The FBI said it began investigating Kurtz last year with Wisconsin authorities and local police in Cross Plains after a 14-year-old girl there told police that Kurtz was threatening to rape and kill her if she didn’t continue doing as he demanded, including self-mutilation.

Authorities said they obtained Instagram records that showed threatening messages from Kurtz to the girl, including threats to “damage her reputation if she did not continue their relationship” by posting nude photos of her on social media, Special Agent Andrea Kinzig wrote in an affidavit.

The investigation led to similar situations involving juvenile girls in Maryland, Michigan, New York and Virginia that he interacted with on Skype and other online media, according to the affidavit.

“Kurtz made a number of threats to the females …. threatening to kill himself and threatening to send their nude photographs to their friends,” Kinzig said. “Kurtz also made a number of false representations about himself, such as telling the females that he had cancer, lived in foster care, and was younger than he actually was.”

Kurtz’s attorney didn’t respond immediately Thursday to a message seeking comment.

Etheridge sings for inmates at women’s prison

MARYSVILLE — A video of female inmates singing one of her songs led to Melissa Etheridge performing with the group at an Ohio prison.

The singer performed solo Wednesday for about 2,300 inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1RvqCCm ) reported. They sat on a recreation field at the Marysville facility as Etheridge sang a few songs and offered encouragement from a small stage.

She said she’d been moved by a video of inmates in an addiction-recovery group singing “A Little Bit of Me.” She closed with the song and invited members of the group to come up and sing with her.

The Harmony Project, a Columbus community choir, has been singing with the group every week for the last several years.

Etheridge later visited their dormitory, where she left her autographed handprints in paint on the wall and encouraged inmates to contact her when they’re released.

“It was amazing; she really touched my heart and she really gave me a lot of hope,” said Georgia Peterman of Portsmouth, who has six months remaining on a three-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine. “I’m really glad I got to be a part of this.”

Etheridge told the inmates after the show that she thinks she might have to write her next song about them.