Murders and Homicides

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.22 Caliber Murders

For a whole year between December 1977 and December 1978, two brothers, Thaddeus and Gary Lewingdon, had folks in three counties afraid for their lives. They began a series of murders that ended the lives of ten people in Licking, Fairfield and Franklin Counties. Their motive seems to have been money, according to the two books that have been written about the cases .

The first killings occurred at Forker's Café on Union Street in Newark on December 10, 1977. Joyce Vermillion and Karen Dodrill had closed the bar and headed for their cars when they were shot to death and robbed. The second case involved Dorothy and Robert McCann and their friend, Christine Herdman, at the McCann home in Franklin County on February 13, 1978. The third case was Jenkin Jones at his home on State Route 37 south of Granville. Fourth was Rev. Jerry Fields who was serving as a security guard at a club in Fairfield County. Fifth were Jerry and Martha Martin at their home on Morse Road in Columbus. All these nine murders were committed by Gary and Thaddeus together. Finally, Gary decided to go out on his own to kill Joseph Annick in Columbus. He made the mistake of using Annick's credit card at a department store, which led to his arrest on the store premises. A year of investigation in the three counties had seemed fruitless until Gary's arrest. He and Thaddeus freely admitted to the murders, and finally the case was solved.

A bizarre twist to the entire murder spree was the fact that Claudia Yasko, a young woman from Columbus, Ohio, came forward with the suspicion that her boyfriend and his buddy were the killers. Claudia had a long history of mental illness and often believed she was guilty of things which she did not actually do. Besides that, she often claimed to be psychic. She apparently knew many details about some of the cases that were not in the general media. She, her boyfriend and his friend were arrested and jailed, but then the murders continued. As it turned out, there was a link between her boyfriend and one of the killers, which provided her with information. Her attorney had enough influence to bring in investigators from Playboy Magazine, along with its unlimited resources. With the eventual confession of the Lewingdon's, these three were off the hook.

Gary and Thaddeus Lewingdon both died in prison [1]

Newark Lynching

A picture of Carl Etherington, who was lynched in Newark on July 8, 1910.
Carl Etherington. Although the image places him at 19 years old at the time of his death, it was later discovered that he had lied about his age and was only 17.

July 8, 1910 is a date that will forever be linked with Newark’s history. It was on that day that Carl Mayes Etherington was beaten to death and hanged from a telegraph pole in downtown Newark. The event made national news and earned Newark the reputation of being a lawless, uncivilized city.

The first decade of the twentieth century saw a battle raging between “wets” and “drys,” or those who supported the legal sale and consumption of alcohol and those who did not. In January 1909, an election was held to decide whether or not Licking County would go dry or stay wet. Overall, the county voted by 708 votes to go dry. However, the votes tallied in Newark showed that the citizens of the city did not feel the same way as the rest of the county. Newark had voted to stay wet by 1,557 votes. When the law was enacted to outlaw the sale of alcohol in Licking County, Newark saloons continued to stay open and were frequently patronized by police officers and even the mayor, Herbert Atherton. Many accounts claim that saloon owners also took part in illegal gambling and human trafficking rings. All of these crimes were overlooked by law enforcement thanks to a monthly fee that could be paid by business owners to ensure protection from the police.

On July 8, 1910, a raid was carried out by secret agents working with the Anti-Saloon League. The raid was called for and warrants were issued by Dr. E.J. Barnes, Granville’s mayor. Twenty agents were sworn in as officers of the law by Mayor Barnes and were sent to a few of the worst saloons in Newark. One group of agents, including a teenager named Carl Etherington, was sent to a saloon operated by Lewis Bolton. Upon their arrival they were met by a mob equipped with an arsenal of weapons. The encounter quickly became violent. The police department ordered the agents to leave and arrested twelve of them. The rest knew that it was time to escape.

Unfortunately, Carl Etherington was unable to escape the mob with the rest of the agents. Carl was pursued for over two miles, passing a bar on Union Street that was owned by William Howard, a former police captain. Howard joined in the chase and was able to catch Etherington near the Newark city limits. Howard caught Etherington by the collar and began beating him in the head with a blackjack. In an act of self-defense, Etherington pulled out his revolver and shot Howard. Carl Etherington was immediately arrested.

The mob followed Etherington to the jail and remained gathered outside. Some accounts report that there were as many as 8,000 people in attendance, with others estimating the crowd to be 5,000 people. At 8:15 p.m., word spread that William Howard had died from his injury, further igniting the mob’s rage. By 9:45 p.m., the crowd had successfully beaten down the gate to the jail and gained access inside. Carl Etherington was seized by the mob at approximately 10:30 p.m. They beat him, kicked him, and hit him repeatedly in the head with a hammer. Etherington reportedly told the crowd, “Tell my mother that I died trying to do my duty.”

By 10:35 p.m., the crowd had tied a rope around Etherington’s lifeless neck and hung his body from a telegraph pole on the southeast corner of the downtown square. At just seventeen years old, Carl Etherington was dead.

As a result of the death of Carl Etherington, over twenty people were indicted for first degree murder. More than twenty others were indicted for assault, battery, and rioting. Both Mayor Herbert Atherton and Sheriff William Linke were removed from their offices by Governor Judson Harmon. Atherton and Linke were charged with allowing the lynching to take place and for failure to do their duties. Both men resigned from their positions immediately following their suspension by the governor. [2][3][4][5]



  1. Licking County Library vertical files of newspaper clippings, primarily from the Newark Advocate; Unveiling Claudia: a True Story of Serial Murder, by Daniel Keyes, Bantom Books, 1986; A Year of Fear, by Bill Queen, 2005
  2. Baker, Ray Stannard. “The Thin Crust of Civilization: A Study of the Modern Liquor Traffic in a Modern American City.” The American Magazine Vol. LXXI No. 6 (April, 2011): 691-704.
  3. Gordon, Sloane. “Booze, Boodle, and Bloodshed in the Middle West.” Cosmopolitan Magazine Vol. XLIX No. 6 (November, 1910): 761-775.
  4. Huff, W.T. The Newark Lynching: July 8, 1910. Newark, OH: W.T. Huff, 1999.
  5. Wheeler, Wayne B. The Newark Lynching: Its Causes and Results. Westerville, OH: The American Issue Publishing Co., 1910.