New Castle woman arrested in connection with fatal shooting of Delaware State University student

By Amy Cherry 11:49am, August 26, 2016 - Updated 12:16pm, August 26, 2016
Cheryl Jennings
A woman was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Delaware State University student.

New Castle County Police announced Friday that Cheryl Jennings, 46, of New Castle was handcuffed in connection with the July 9, 2016 shooting of 19-year-old Malcolm Evans outside the Rutledge community.

Evans was driving to work at his part-time job with FedEx at 4 a.m. on July 9 when he was shot in the upper torso, lost control of his vehicle, and died.

"Malcolm Evans was truly an innocent victim, a young man who lived with his parents and brother, went to college, worked a job and dreamed of becoming a doctor," said County Executive Tom Gordon in a written statement. "His death is a loss to all of us and we continue to share his family’s grief."

Jennings, a convicted felon, was charged with first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. Jennings was arraigned and committed without bail to the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution near New Castle.

Police said they began receiving tips about the fatal shooting as Gordon doubled the reward for an arrest and/or conviction in the case to $40,000.

New Castle County Police Chief Col. Elmer Setting called those tips "vital" to Jennings' arrest, which he said doesn't mark the end of their investigation.

"It does, however, provide some much needed closure to the family and community," said New Castle County Police Col. Chief Elmer Setting. "In a case like this, where there is no known association between the victim and defendant, the extraordinary efforts of our detectives as well as help from the public must be recognized and commended."

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Fire damages Newport home

By Amy Cherry/Mike Phillips 12:36pm, August 26, 2016 - Updated 1:09pm, August 26, 2016
Fire heavily damaged a home in Newport.

The fire broke out at the two-story home on the unit block of State Street in the Tuxedo Park community at 6 a.m. Friday.

Firefighters make quick work of a house fire in Newport. (Mike Phillips/WDEL)

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The Minaquas Fire Company arrived on-scene to find visible flames in the rear of the residence; they were able to knock down the fire in about 30 minutes.

The state Fire Marshal said the fire originated in the home's laundry room and was caused by faulty electrical wiring inside the wall.

Everyone made it out safely. The home sustained $20,000 in damage, according to the Delaware State Fire Marshal's office.

No one was injured after an early morning house fire in Newport. (Mike Phillips/WDEL)

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County Executive candidates (minus 2) debate at WDEL studios

By Joe Irizarry 11:34pm, August 25, 2016 - Updated 11:03am, August 26, 2016
County Council candidates Matt Meyer and Mark Blake debate. Cardboard cutout of County Executive Tom Gordon provided by Meyer campaign, Barry Nahe also didn't attend.
Thursday night's WDEL New Castle County Executive debate was just as much about those who did show as those who didn't.

"We need a county government that's managed properly, right Mr. Gordon," said Democratic candidate Matt Meyer, speaking to a life-size cardboard cutout of County Executive Tom Gordon, that his campaign brought to the debate.

Gordon declined multiple invitations to participate, despite having the first pick of dates for the WDEL debate.

"I'm not going to be at your debate, I have four debates this month, and we're scheduled for something that night," said Gordon after a debate on August 2.

As for Thursday night, Meyer did take the county executive to task on his Port of Wilmington promises.

"I've worked on three different port deals as a private sector attorney," said Meyer. "I'm going to get down to work and work in support of the governor and the Diamond State Port Corporation--something Mr. Gordon has never said, and quite frankly, if you talk to people involved, has never done."

Previously, Gordon has said that proposed jobs at the port are real and will happen.

"All three ports and GM (General Motors) and possibly Claymont, now you're talking 60,000 jobs, 80,000 jobs, this is not a facade," said Gordon on August 2 in response to Matt Meyer.

Meanwhile, Gordon also took heat from the GOP.

"It was promises kept in 2012, it's promises broken in 2016," said county executive hopeful Mark Blake, who lost to Gordon in the 2012 general election.

Blake was the only Republican to attend the debate at the WDEL Boulden Brothers Performance Center as Barry Nahe said he encountered traffic issues while in commute to the debate because of the water main break on Shipley Road.

Blake believes the Gordon administration has failed in a couple of areas specifically.

"They have not fulfilled any of Mr. Gordon's promises from the basics; the crime in Wilmington has not changed; thhe crime in the county is slightly up or slightly down depending on what report you look at, but it has not changed," said Blake.

The primary is Tuesday, September 13.

VIDEO of Thursday night's debate:




Wilmington & Western Railroad celebrates 50 years with an historical photography display of the Red Clay Creek Valley

By Andrew Sgroi 12:08pm, August 26, 2016 - Updated 12:24pm, August 26, 2016
Delawarean Charles Philips' photograph of the carriage bridge over Red Clay Creek, at Mt. Cuba Station, New Castle County, Delaware, on November 16, 1895. (Courtesy The Chester County Historical Society)
As the only Heritage Railroad in Delaware continues to celebrate 50 years of operation, it will look back more than a century with the unveiling of a rare photographic collection on Friday evening.

The Wilmington & Western Railroad (1966-2016) will host the special evening for the public when it unveils the unique collection of more than 50 images taken between the years of 1895-97.

These original glass plate negatives--taken by Charles S. Philips, of the Philips Farm at Greenbank Station--show the earliest days of the railroad and the Red Clay Creek Valley.

"Charles Philips took his bicycle and pedaled out through the dirt road countryside of the Red Clay Creek," recounted Wilmington & Western Railroad Executive Director, David Ludlow, "to take negatives with his camera of the railroad and the countryside. And these are phenomenally amazing to try to recognize what the roads, and the bridges, and the river looked like back then."

The general public has never seen most of these images, which had been reproduced from The Chester County Historical Society's original collection.

Ludlow remarked of the extraordinary difference in the landscape from 120 years ago.

"The contrast will amaze you. It will amaze you. The countryside looks very different," he noted emphatically. "Mind you that agriculture was very big and people were also using trees for heating and fuel, so the countryside looks very barren, it's pasture. It's very interesting."

Railroad volunteer and photographer, Mike Cioisek, will present an explanation of the process Philips used to capture the images, which have been captioned to identify the areas. They will also be displayed consistent with an east-to west orientation.

The collection will be on display at the railroad's new Education Center in Marshallton, on Friday, August 26, 2016, from 6-8 p.m. Parking for the event will be at the railroad's Greenbank Station, located at Newport Gap Pike and Greenbank Road. A train shuttle will then take attendees to the reception. The first shuttle departure is at 6:00 p.m.

Reservations are required, and to purchase tickets, visit www.wwrr.com




VP Biden's been working on the railroad: New investment in Amtrak to be announced

By Andrew Sgroi 8:42am, August 26, 2016 - Updated 10:51am, August 26, 2016
Vice President Joseph R. Biden, pictured at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, in this WDEL File photo
Users of the nation's rail system have an important political figure conducting its sustainability into the future.

Vice President Joe Biden has planned remarks for Friday afternoon--with the backdrop of the Wilmington train station that bears his name--to announce new investment in rail service that will benefit Amtrak. Additionally, Biden will underscore the importance of investing in the nation's entire transportation infrastructure.

WDEL's Lauren Huet will be in attendance.


Wilmington shooting victim: Man, 18, struck in buttocks

By Andrew Sgroi 9:44am, August 26, 2016 - Updated 10:31am, August 26, 2016
There was another target of gunfire found in Wilmington on Thursday night.

Wilmington Police advised their officers found an 18-year-old man around 10:30 p.m. on August 25, 2016, just one block from the shooting scene that was located at South Van Buren Street and Sycamore Street in Hedgeville.

Police informed the man was hit in the buttocks, but was treated on scene by New Castle County Paramedics before he was transported to Christiana Hospital in stable condition.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting incident still remain under investigation. Anyone with information relative to this investigation is asked to call Detective Bill Ball at 302.576.3962.


Park goers react to fatal Bear zip lining fall

By Lauren Huet 6:39pm, August 25, 2016 - Updated 9:28pm, August 25, 2016
VIDEO: Lauren Huet reports on fatal Bearzip lining fall.
Purusha Rivera and her 3-year-old son are regulars at Lums Pond State Park. So is her friend Natasha King and her son. Both women were shocked to find out a woman died participating in the Go Ape Aerial Rope Adventure Course at the park.

"It's terrible. It's very, very sad," said Rivera. "I can't imagine what the family is going through."

"I just feel so bad for the family," said King. "I can't even imagine someone goes out to do a fun activity and then they don't come back. I can't even imagine."

Delaware State Police identified the woman as 59-year-old Tina Werner from Felton, Delaware.

"The victim was on a platform preparing to transcend one of the zip lines across the pond," said Corporal Jeffrey Hale. "She then fell from the platform she was on approximately 35 feet to the ground."

Police say Werner was with a group of people when she fell Wednesday, August 24, at about 2:35 p.m.

"Our hearts really go out to the family and her friends and any witnesses or employees of Go Ape that were there at the time," said Hale. "This is a tragic event. To witness something like this has got to be heart breaking."

Werner was treated at the scene by Go Ape employees, Park Rangers, and then New Castle County Paramedics before being taken by ambulance to Christina Hospital where she was pronounced dead at Christiana Hospital.

Rivera and her family, including her then 12-year old daughter Miley, have participated in the Go Ape course. Hearing about Werner's death makes something that happened then even scarier.

"Children have to be with an adult at all times. So, they're always with somebody to make sure they're staying connected," said Rivera, "but at one time, it was both our first time doing the course, and my brother-in-law looked over and said, 'Miley, you're not connected. You have to be connected at all times.'"

A frightening moment for Rivera.

"I was the one who was supposed to be paying attention to her, but I was too busy trying to figure it out myself. So, my brother-in-law stayed with her the rest of the time. It's kind of nerve-wracking being so high up and especially if it's your first time doing the course it can get confusing," said Rivera.

Her thoughts are with Werner's family.

"It's terrible. Especially having done the course and with my daughter at one point being completely unattached. I feel for the family. I can't imagine," said Rivera.

Go Ape released the following statement Thursday:

STATEMENT FROM GO APE

August 25, 2016

We are very saddened by the events from yesterday at our Lums Pond State Park location and feel deeply for the family and friends.



As well as carrying out our own thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, we have already begun working with external agencies including the Delaware State Police. More than 6 million customers have undertaken Go Ape courses safely in compliance with American and European standards. Having undertaken our initial investigation, and having talked to witnesses to the incident, we can confirm that an adult participant attended our course at Lums Pond where she underwent training in the safe use of the course.



Having completed her training on how to remain attached to the safety system the participant proceeded onto the course and progressed to the final platform of site 4, towards the end of the activity, where she fell from the platform to the ground. Participant witnesses have stated that at the time of the accident the participant had unfortunately disconnected herself from the safety system.

We confirm that a full inspection of the course, with particular focus on the last platform at site 4, has been undertaken and all of the course and associated safety equipment was and remains in sound operational condition. Nothing was broken or unserviceable. Our course at Lums Pond is currently closed to guests as a mark of respect.



We would like to thank the State Police, our Park Partners and the emergency services for their prompt assistance. The thoughts and prayers of all of us remain with the family and friends.

- Go Ape

Thursday night, Delaware State Police announced that the state Division of Forensic Science ruled Werner's death was caused by multiple accidental blunt force trauma.


EdWatch: Wilmington chess champion teaches underprivileged youth the game

By Amy Cherry 4:56pm, August 25, 2016
Johnny Means spends his free time teaching Wilmington kids the game of chess. (Photo/Wilmington Chess Initiative)
A chess champion from Wilmington is using his skills to teach underprivileged youth in Southbridge.

Johnny Means established the Urban Chess Initiative, where he donates his time and skills to teaching other kids his favorite game.

"Our big goal is really just to expose kids to the game of chess," he said. "It can teach them how to think in steps--that's a really important skill because then, maybe, they won't make as many mistakes as they might make when they're growing up."

The Delaware Military Academy senior has been playing chess since he was 10. He got into it because he wasn't really into sports, and his parents wanted him to do more than just play video games.

"With sports there's a big factor 'if I'm stronger than you, I'll probably do better,'" he said. "Chess is if I can outthink you... if you're on the rope someone's beating you, you can set up a nice little trap and win the game... it's a very logical game."

He plays at tournaments around the country and is at such a high level now, he has to play for three hours a day.

"That's what you have to do to stay good at the game," he said.

The Wilmington Urban Chess Initiative held its first tournament last January with more than 60 kids participating--many from the City of Wilmington; some even came from neighboring states.

Means said the kids he teaches have come a long way.

"Some of the kids I teach--they have to finish their homework before I teach them--and at first, they didn't care about the chess or the homework, but now they finish the homework, which helps them in school because they want to get to the chess."

He said the strategic board game has helped him do better in school and can even be a crime prevention tool.

"The City of Wilmington has a lot of crime, and we feel like if we can get to this generation and teach them this logical, step-by-step thinking, it could really help them in their life," he said.

Means was one of five high schoolers in Wilmington recognized for his volunteerism by Bank of America.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or on Twitter

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3 firefighters injured battling Edgemoor blaze which required water poured down shaft to reach flames

By DJ McAneny 4:12pm, August 25, 2016 - Updated 4:47pm, August 25, 2016
The scene of a fire which required some creativity to battle/(Mike Phillips/WDEL)
Firefighters from several companies helped battle a multi-alarm fire in Edgemoor, during which they had to take a unique approach to gain access to the blaze itself.

The fire took place at the IKO Wilmington manufacturing plant on Hay Road, and occurred inside a shaft Brandywine Hundred Fire Chief Tom Finocchiaro referred to as an access-restricting "vessel."

"Basically, a conveyor belt caught fire while they were doing some welding around it," he said. "But it caught fire in a vessel that made it very hard to get to, and our firefighters had hard time accessing the belt."

Finocchiaro said there was heavy steel surrounding the belt, but holes were cut at the top and the bottom of the shaft, into which water was dumped.

Close to a dozen companies showed up to assist in battling the blaze/(Mike Phillips/WDEL)

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"We were flowing water down from top of shaft," he said. "We appeared to have the fire put out now."

The fire reached two alarms and almost a dozen area companies responded to assist. Three firefighters were transported to Christiana Hospital, one for smoke inhalation and two for heat exhaustion. Finocchiaro said all were anticipated to be ok.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office released a statement Thursday stating the cause of the fire had been ruled accidental, and that, while there are no specific estimations yet, property damage could run into the valuation of hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Felton woman ID'd as victim in fatal Bear zip lining fall

By DJ McAneny 11:09am, August 25, 2016 - Updated 4:31pm, August 25, 2016
(WDEL file)
Delaware State Police on Thursday released the identity of a 59-year-old woman who died after falling almost four stories off a zip lining course in Lums Pond State Park.

According to police, Tina Werner, of Felton, fell at approximately 2:35 p.m. Wednesday, August 24, 2016, at the Go Ape Aerial Rope Adventure Course in the park at 1068 Howell School Road in Bear.

Authorities said Werner was standing on a platform 35' above the ground, waiting for her turn on the zip line, when she fell to the ground.



Police did not indicate how this occurred, but did say foul play is not suspected. An investigation is ongoing.

First aid and "advanced life-saving efforts" were rendered, but Werner was pronounced dead at Christiana Hospital. An autopsy will be performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences.

In a post on social media, Werner's daughter Melissa Slater announced her mother's death and said it occurred while she was checking off an item on her bucket list.

Go Ape released a collective statement regarding Werner's death Thursday afternoon:

We are very saddened by the events from yesterday at our Lums Pond State Park location and feel deeply for the family and friends.

As well as carrying out our own thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, we have already begun working with external agencies including the Delaware State Police. More than 6 million customers have undertaken Go Ape courses safely in compliance with American and European standards. Having undertaken our initial investigation, and having talked to witnesses to the incident, we can confirm that an adult participant attended our course at Lums Pond where she underwent training in the safe use of the course.

Having completed her training on how to remain attached to the safety system the participant proceeded onto the course and progressed to the final platform of site 4, towards the end of the activity, where she fell from the platform to the ground. Participant witnesses have stated that at the time of the accident the participant had unfortunately disconnected herself from the safety system.

We confirm that a full inspection of the course, with particular focus on the last platform at site 4, has been undertaken and all of the course and associated safety equipment was and remains in sound operational condition. Nothing was broken or unserviceable. Our course at Lums Pond is currently closed to guests as a mark of respect.

We would like to thank the State Police, our Park Partners and the emergency services for their prompt assistance. The thoughts and prayers of all of us remain with the family and friends.

- Go Ape



DOC to close Webb Corrections Center in Prices Corner

By DJ McAneny 2:28pm, August 25, 2016
A shot of the facility included in the Prices Corner Report
The Delaware Department of Correction announced Thursday it would be closing the Webb Community Corrections Center near Price's Corner.

"Closing the Webb facility is another example of our ongoing efforts to increase government efficiency and make the best use of limited resources," said Gov. Jack Markell. "I'm encouraged that this action is generating savings that support critical government programs, and I'm pleased that it allows the DOC to redeploy staff to other facilities where they can have the most impact on our reentry efforts while maintaining the treatment service that were previously offered on site."

The facility, located on Greenbank Road, will be closed as part of the Price's Corner Task Force Report (PDF) and the "DOC's effort to increase efficiency and delivery of services to offenders in Level 4 confinement."

The task force examined the Price's Corner Government Complex, which consisted of the Webb Center, Delaware State Police Troop 6, Justice of the Peace Court 10, and the Kirkwood Detox Center. Several necessary, but costly, upgrades were noted for the continued operation of Webb.

Closing the facility, which was operating with less than 50 percent occupancy, and moving offenders to Plummer Community Corrections Center will reduced Department of Correction expenditures by $100,000 annually and "improve operational efficiency," officials said in a release.

"The Price's Corner Task Force determined that the Webb Corrections Center was costing the state more than $1 million a year to operate despite being an outdated facility housing only a few offenders," said task force co-chair Rep. Kim Williams. "Closing Webb and consolidating operations with the Plummer Community Corrections Center will save the state money and allow the state to use the site for other purposes."

The property will likely be expanded to house a new Troop 6.

"Funding allocated will allow the State Police to begin laying the ground work for its Prices Corner expansion," said Sen. Patricia Blevins.


Dover man charged in string of commercial, church burglaries

By DJ McAneny 2:48pm, August 25, 2016
Jason Faulkner/Courtesy Delaware State Police
A 30-year-old Dover man was charged in connection to 13 burglaries reported at churches and commercial businesses throughout the Felton, Magnolia, Dover, and Woodside areas, Delaware State Police announced Thursday.

According to authorities, food and money would be stolen during the incidents, and an investigation led police to Jason L. Faulkner as the suspect, who was found to already be wanted for an active warrant out of the Sussex Halfway House.

At approximately 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 25, 2016, authorities said they observed a man "prowling" in the area of an Arby's near Woodside. The individual turned out to be Faulkner, and he was found to be pushing a wheelbarrow and in possession of a backpack which contained burglary tools and stolen property from multiple burglaries, police said.

Police said they tied Faulkner to burglaries from July 31, 2016 to present at locations including:
  • St. Johns AUMP Church, 323 Barney Jenkins Road, Felton
  • London Village Baptist Chapel, 568 Millchop Lane, Magnolia
  • The Lighthouse Church of God, 1362 Barney Jenkins Rd, Felton
  • Green Singer, 492 Walnut Shade Rd, Felton
  • Luigis Pizza, 5502 South DuPont Highway, Dover (Twice)
  • Everlasting Nails, 500 Walnut Shade Road, Suite 2, Felton (Three times)
  • Walgreens, 506 South DuPont Highway, Dover (Twice)
  • The Dance Collection, 5502 S DuPont Highway, Dover


  • Faulkner was charged with 11 counts of third-degree burglary, two counts third-degree attempted burglary, eight counts theft under $1,500, 12 counts criminal mischief under $1,000, 11 counts possession of burglar tools, and one count theft over $1,500. He was committed to the Department of Correction in lieu of $88,000 cash bond.


    Swimmers face rip current risk along New Jersey beaches

    By Associated Press 10:44am, August 26, 2016
    Swimmers along the Jersey shore should be cautious this weekend.

    Forecasters say there is an enhanced risk of rip currents on Saturday through next week. The highest risk could be Monday and Tuesday.

    Tropical Storm Gaston is churning up the surf as it moves northwestward in the Atlantic Ocean.


    Watermelons to go flying on Delmarva

    By Rob Petree 10:49am, August 26, 2016
    Pumpkins won't be the only fruit flying through the air this year on Delmarva.

    This weekend in Dorchester County, Maryland will be the first Watermelon Blast. The idea is similar to Delaware's famous Punkin' Chunkin.' Watermelons will even be hurled using the same machine.

    "You'll actually be able to donate money to be able to shoot one of these cannons in person, and all this is going to be benefiting the Relay for Life. They're going to be shooting at a target, so whoever hits the most in a 20 minute interval at 200 ft. wins that round," said organizer Frank Payton.

    Payton said there would be three or four rounds and a championship round for the greatest watermelon blast.

    The event takes place in Saturday in Vienna, Maryland. Alcohol is not permitted. Event organizers have also banned coolers and glass bottles. All bags must be no larger than 16'x16'x8'.

    For more information click here.