Middletown police said this week that drug dealers have a direct or indirect connection to three of the city’s most recent homicides.
On Monday, after a six-month investigation by numerous agencies, including Middletown police, one man was arrested, and he’s being held in the Butler County Jail waiting for U.S. Marshals, according to jail records.
Benwan Alvin Edwards, 25, was arrested Monday morning and charged with dangerous drugs, then booked into the county jail later that afternoon, according to jail records and the U.S. Marshals office. He has no bond.
Edwards was the only person arrested during the raids, but Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said more arrests are forthcoming.
Police said guns, drugs and 20 vehicles used to traffic drugs were seized when agencies participated in serving federal search warrants to nine homes, seven in Middletown.
Muterspaw said the “drug ring” is believed to have some connection to the homicides of Teresa Shields, Benny Barefield and Kapriece Fuller.
Maj. Scott Reeve described the violence as “on-going, back-and-forth” between different groups.”
Here’s a look at those three cases:
During the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2017, Teresa Shields, 26, was shot to death in the passenger seat of a vehicle at the intersection of Wicoff Street and Roosevelt Boulevard in Middletown.
Reeve called Shields “an innocent bystander” and not the intended target of the shooter.
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Twenty-eight shell casings from large caliber guns were recovered from the shooting, according to Middletown Detective Steve Winters.
Detectives traveled to Chicago and recovered a vehicle they said was linked to those involved in the shooting.
Shields’ boyfriend, Steve Waldon, 34, has been sentenced to prison for seven years for felony drug abuse and drug trafficking. Three others have been arrested and received prison sentences.
Benny Barefield, 48, was shot and killed Dec. 14, 2018 while he sat in his car at Ninth Avenue and Yankee Road.
Two of four people incarcerated for months and accused in the shooting death of Barefield were released from jail after they were not indicted by a grand jury.
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A 17-year-old whose case was sent to adult court earlier for trial was released from the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center. The teen was charged with aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang.
Quanteriaus Keith, 21, who was charged with aggravated murder, participating in a criminal gang, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability, was been released from the county jail, according to Butler County Sheriff’s Lt. Nick Fisher.
Dwight Bailey III, 21, who was charged with complicity to aggravated murder as well as a probation violation and an aggravated robbery charge in an unrelated case, remains in jail on the last two charges, but jail information indicates the complicity to aggravated murder charge has been dismissed.
The fourth person accused, Daniel Fitzgerald, 21, has not been taken into custody. A warrant for Fitzgerald’s arrest on charges of complicity to aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang was issued on Jan. 1 in Middletown Municipal Court.
Barefield had 10 children, and one of them is Benwan Edwards.
The three accused in the shooting death of Barefield are members of a gang called the Road Runners, which is tied on at least one unsolved and one solved homicide in the past year in the city, police said.
Kapriece Fuller was shot to death in the 600 block of 16th Avenue on July 14, 2018.
Muterspaw and detectives have said the back-and-forth gang violence is connected to Fuller’s killing.
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Days after Fuller’s shooting, which remains unsolved, Muterspaw turned to social media to write that nearly every homicide has been committed by people in “the game.”