10-31-2019 Police Reports

Police Reports By Annette Christie

Meth dealer arrested Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott reports that the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office narcotics unit received information that James Steele, 39, of Hartford, was involved in illegal narcotics activities and had a valid felony warrant for his arrest for possession of methamphetamine. On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, detectives were conducting surveillance on a vehicle being driven by Steele. Detectives advised deputies with the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Response Division and K-9 team the location of the vehicle and uniformed patrol deputies conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle that Steele was driving. The vehicle stop was conducted in approximately the 70000 block of County Road 687 in Hartford Township. During the traffic stop Steele was arrested on the outstanding warrant for his arrest. During the arrest a loaded handgun was located in Steele’s waistband of his pants. During a subsequent search of Steele’s vehicle, approximately 1/4 ounce of suspected methamphetamine and multiple suspected alprazolam pills along with various drug paraphernalia were located inside the vehicle. The charges from the incident include Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) Methamphetamine; Possession With Intent to Deliver (PWID) schedule 4 narcotic; Felony Firearm; Felon in Possession of a Firearm; and a Concealed weapon violation. The outstanding warrant was a felony warrant for possession of methamphetamine out of the Portage Department of Public Safety. Steele was lodged at the Van Buren County jail. The incident will be forwarded to the prosecutor for review. Anyone with information can contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office at (269) 657-3101, Crime Stoppers 1-800-342-7867, Silent Observer (269) 343-2100 or the local Police Department. Mobile phone users and online users can provide anonymous crime tips to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office by sending a text Tip Soft message by sending a text message to “CRIMES” (274637) with the keyword VBCTIP from a mobile phone. To submit an online tip, go to www.vbcsheriff.com and at the top of the homepage follow the directions to submit a tip.

Coloma man guilty of daughter’s death Last week in the Berrien County Trial Court, Scott Skinner, 31, of Coloma, was sentenced to 8-1/2 to 15 years in prison for the death of his two-month old daughter. The incident occurred in October 2018 when the baby’s mother left the infant with Skinner in Coloma Township. This past July, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting that he shook the baby because she would not stop crying. Jordynn Skinner, the 2-month old infant and her brother were with Skinner at the time. She suffered a significant, traumatic brain injury and died the next day in a Kalamazoo hospital. In exchange for his plea, other charges were dismissed. Court records indicate that the little baby’s mother Kori Bryant, read a victim impact statement at the sentencing. Skinner’s parenting rights to their two-year-old son have been terminated. TV crime show to feature murder by Spagnola A new television crime drama that made its debut this fall will feature a crime that occurred close to home. “The Truth About Murder” is on the Investigation Discovery channel and the November 19 episode will feature the 2000 murder of Lisa Fein. Fein, 33, was taken from her home in Galien Township by a man in a snowmobile helmet. She was abducted in the presence of her then 11-year-old son and another boy. Two days later, in a shallow grave, her body was found. It took two years of investigation before the father of her son, Frank Spagnola of Coloma, was charged with first degree murder. He was convicted of that charged in 2003, and is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Court records confirm that Fein and Spagnola fought for years over custody and other matters with regard to their son. On the day that she was murdered, Spagnola was ordered by the Court to pay her more than $14,000 in back child support out of his retirement account. Spagnola has appealed his conviction, however, it was denied. The episode, hosted by Sunny Hostein, will feature interviews with local law enforcement, family and friends.

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