GALLERY: The wake and funeral for Wilmington's Lt. Christopher Leach

By Amy Cherry/DJ McAneny 9:09am, September 30, 2016 - Updated 1:39pm, September 30, 2016
On Friday, the community gathered to remember Lt. Christopher Leach, one of two Wilmington firefighters killed battling a Canby Park blaze officials have said was intentionally set.

During the service, Leach was remembered as a man who missed his own father and kept laminated memorial cards in locations throughout his daily life--including next to a Father's Day letter written by his daughter, Abby, in his locker at work.

"Chris was a fun-loving kid who grew up to be a fun-loving adult," said Deacon Martin J. Leach. "More importantly, he grew up to be the kind of adult we'd all like to be. His greatest role was as a father...Chris had a beautiful relationship with his children...The love returned to Chris from all of his children was what he lived for."

The program for Lt. Christopher Leach's funeral services./(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

The program for Lt. Christopher Leach's funeral services./(Amy Cherry/WDEL)





The line for mourners waiting to pay respects to Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

The line for mourners waiting to pay respects to Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

The line for mourners waiting to pay respects to Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

The line for mourners waiting to pay respects to Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

So many people showed up to grieve and pay their respects, the line stretched along the grounds outside.







Coming off memorial services and a public viewing Thursday for Sr. Firefighter Jerry Fickes at the Grace Lutheran Church in Hockessin, the community gathered Friday at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in the Bayard Square section of the city.

Lt. Christopher Leach being carried into the church/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

Lt. Christopher Leach being carried into the church/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

Lt. Christopher Leach's body arrives at his wake and funeral/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

Lt. Christopher Leach's body arrives at his wake and funeral/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

Lt. Christopher Leach being transported through Wilmington/(Mike Phillips/WDEL)

Lt. Christopher Leach being transported through Wilmington/(Mike Phillips/WDEL)

Mourners gathered awaiting the arrival of the truck carrying Lt. Leach's body/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

Mourners gathered awaiting the arrival of the truck carrying Lt. Leach's body/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

More of the service members awaiting the arrival of Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

More of the service members awaiting the arrival of Lt. Christopher Leach/(Lauren Huet/WDEL)

The wake and funeral for Lt. Christopher Leach took place throughout the rainy morning hours on September 30, 2016.

A look inside St. Elizabeth's Church for the funeral of Lt. Christopher Leach/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)

A look inside St. Elizabeth's Church for the funeral of Lt. Christopher Leach/(Amy Cherry/WDEL)





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Additional contributors to this compilation include Lauren Huet and Mike Phillips


Get ready for the weekend with WDEL On the Town

By Peter MacArthur 8:24am, September 29, 2016 - Updated 1:34pm, September 29, 2016
Our latest installment of WDEL On the Town with Brianna Hansen:

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Friday evening, take in the rare chance to experience The Brandywine Zoo after hours and with no children present as you sip and sample your way through craft beer, wine and delicious bites from local restaurants during their annual "Brew at the Zoo."

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This Saturday, the Delaware Historical Society is celebrating the grand reopening of the Delaware History Museum plus the Opening of the New Center for African American Heritage on Market Street. The block-party style festivities include live music and performances, activities for kids, and the Rolling Revolution food trucks.

Speaking of food, there's a community pop-up brunch happening Sunday at Bellefonte Brewing Company. Enjoy vinyl tunes while you browse the work of three local artists and #DigIN to a delicious, locally sourced vegan meal that is 100% omnivore approved.

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Finally, next Wednesday our friends at Hagley kick off their After Hours Series with Play. Make. Sip. It's simple--play with other young professionals as you make a small robot and sip on something from their cash bar!


Wilmington Firefighter Jerry Fickes remembered as a good friend, father and hero

By Joe Irizarry 12:32am, September 30, 2016 - Updated 10:32am, September 30, 2016
VIDEO: Many pay respects at viewing for Wilmington Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes.
Friends, family and firefighters came together Friday night for the first of several planned memorials and services to remember Wilmington Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, who died in the Canby Park fire early Saturday morning.

The dreary night with the pouring down rain and wind set the scene for the sadness felt by many walking out of the Grace Lutheran Church in Hockessin.

Many remembered Fickes as a good husband, father, friend and hero.

Donna DeFilippis knows the family as their children went to school together at Cab Calloway.

"The family is holding up fairly well considering the situation," said DeFilippis. "Laura is a friend of mine. (I know) Jerry from school, and our kids went to school together, and it's a very supportive family, a religious family. I think they'll get through this."

Those not affiliated with any fire department marveled on how the first responder community comes together at times like this, among those attending the viewing included a lieutenant from the Bridgeport, Connecticut Fire Department.

But those within the firefighter community showed up in large numbers. Maria Milton is the wife of a Wilmington firefighter.

"It's a tight community--the Wilmington Fire Department--we're always there for each other. I'm a wife of a Wilmington firefighter, and to be there for her and the family to give great support. Like I said, we're a very tight family, and we'll help them get through this," said Milton.

Those not associated with any fire department, but friendly with the Fickes family also showed up to support the family.

"Utter devastation knowing that their son, Ben, is a freshman in college right now, and in his first month of school, he learns that he's lost his dad, so that's tough," said Lynn Fabian, a teacher who taught Fickes son in 2nd grade.

There was also anger and disbelief that Fickes' death was caused by a possible arson. Beatriz Fana-Ruiz, the daughter of the homeowner was charged with arson and murder in the Canby Park fire that killed Fickes and Lt. Christopher Leach, who will be remembered in a public viewing and funeral service at St. Elizabeth's Church in Wilmington. Fickes will also be laid to rest Friday in a private service. Both firefighters will be memorialized at the Chase Center on the Riverfront Saturday in a service that's expected to draw thousands, including Vice President Joe Biden.

"It's such a waste, it was an unnecessary fire, it's an unnecessary death, I hope she's horribly penalized," said Lon Marcus of Pike Creek. Marcus knows the Fickes family.

Fabian like many who talked with WDEL heard of the charges at the viewing.

"I really don't think you can make sense of it," she said. "No thoughts."


Daughter of property owner charged with murder in death of Wilmington firefighters

By Amy Cherry/DJ McAneny 12:32pm, September 29, 2016 - Updated 10:34pm, September 29, 2016
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
The 27-year-old daughter of the owner of a residence where a fire claimed the lives of two firefighters was arrested and charged with arson, assault, and murder.

According to Asst. State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio, the woman charged was Beatriz Fana-Ruiz, 27, daughter of the owner of 1927 Lakeview Road, where a fire claimed the lives of Lt. Christopher Leach and Sr. Firefighter Jerry Fickes on September 24, 2016.

Lt. Christopher Leach, left, and Sr. FF Jerry Fickes, right/WDEL file

Lt. Christopher Leach, left, and Sr. FF Jerry Fickes, right/WDEL file

A memorial service for the two firefighters is currently scheduled for Saturday at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Thousands, including Vice President Joe Biden, are expected to attended.

Additionally injured in the fire and subsequent rescue attempt were Lt. John Cawthray, Sr. Firefighter Ardythe Hope, Sr. Firefighter Terrence Tate and Firefighter Brad Speakman.

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Clockwise from top-left: Hope, Speakman, Tate, and Cawthray

She has been charged with two counts first-degree murder, four counts of second-degree assault, first-degree arson, and seven counts of first-degree reckless endangering.





Court documents, obtained by WDEL, revealed Fana-Ruiz was allegedly angry, went into the basement of the home, and set it ablaze.

Seven others were inside the home at the time of the fire; they all made it out alive.

Fana-Ruiz admitted to investigators she was drunk and on anxiety medication and said she "could not remember anything else" from that night, according to court records.



Mayor Dennis P. Williams and Chief Anthony Goode thanked the Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Wilmington Police Department, the Delaware Attorney General's Office, and all the agencies--local, state, or federal--which assisted in responding to the fire and securing of the crime scene.

Fana-Ruiz is being held on $6 million cash bail.


Year-long Smyrna investigation nets 6 arrests, recovery of heroin and guns

By DJ McAneny 11:04am, September 30, 2016
Richard Butcher, left, and Jessica Elvey, right
Smyrna Police charged six individuals at the culmination of a year-long drug investigation that resulted in the seizure of heroin, cash, firearms, and marijuana.

According to authorities, the Smyrna Police Department Special Tactics And Response Team executed a search warrant at a residence in the unit block of North Fairfield Drive at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

Six individuals, all from Smyrna, were taken into custody without incident at that time:
  • Richard Butcher, 39
  • Jessica Elvey, 26
  • Shawn Jones, 43
  • Michelle Jones, 43
  • Aaron Tidwell, 27
  • Erik Roberts, 31


  • Recovered at the residence, authorities said they seized 747 bags of powder heroin weighing 11.2 grams, 1.1 grams of brown tar heroin, 21.1 grams of marijuana, numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia, two handguns--including one reported stolen in a Delaware burglary--ammunition, and $1,048 in currency. A motor vehicle allegedly being used to transport and sell heroin was also seized.

    Butcher was charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited-twice previously convicted violent felon, possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person prohibited-previously convicted violent felon, receiving a stolen firearm, possession of a controlled substance-Tier V quantity, possesses with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia-non-marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia-marijuana related, and possession or consumption of a quantity of marijuana for personal use-21 or older. He was committed to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of $163,202 cash-only bond.

    Elvey was charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, receiving a stolen firearm, possession of a controlled substance-Tier V quantity, two counts possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia-non-marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia-marijuana related, and possession or consumption of a quantity of marijuana for personal use-21 or older. She was committed to the Delores J. Baylor Correctional Center in lieu of $73,102 cash-only bond.

    Shawn and Michelle Jones, Tidwell, and Roberts were all charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, and issues a summons before being released.


    Marshallton-area man facing 67 years after guilty plea on drug, gun charges

    By DJ McAneny 2:26pm, September 30, 2016
    Joshua Chattin
    A 23-year-old Marshallton-area man is facing up to 67 years in prison after pleading guilty to a number of weapons and drug charges.

    Joshua Chattin pled guilty to possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, drug dealing heroin-Tier IV, second-degree conspiracy, and possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

    A probation officer's visit to Chattin's apartment in October 2015 uncovered heroin, marijuana, and multiple firearms, including two loaded 9 mm handguns, a .45 caliber handgun, and a revolver capable of firing .410-gauge shotgun shells.

    When sentenced in Superior Court, he faces 14 to 67 years in prison.


    Newark gas station robbed at knifepoint

    By DJ McAneny 10:29am, September 30, 2016
    A Newark gas station clerk was robbed at knifepoint early in the morning, city authorities announced Friday.

    According to Newark Police, a man entered the Sunoco gas station at 1106 South College Avenue at 1:30 a.m. on September 30, 2016, and pulled out a knife.

    Police said the suspect, described only as a white male, demanded money, then reached into the register and removed an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing on foot.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact Det. William Anderson at 302.366.7100 ext. 3469, or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


    Europe's comet chaser Rosetta concludes 12-year-mission

    By Frank Jordans/Associated Press 2:12pm, September 30, 2016
    The European Space Agency said Friday it has lost contact with its Rosetta probe after it struck the surface of a comet, marking the planned end of a 12-year mission.

    Scientists sent the probe on a collision course with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where Rosetta will rest with its sidekick Philae, which landed on the surface in November 2014.

    Both Rosetta and its lander Philae had gathered a wealth of data about 67P that have already given scientists significant new insights into the origins and nature of comets and the formation of celestial bodies.

    The loss of contact was meant to happen as soon as Rosetta detected a "problem" i.e. the impact. The agency planned to steer the probe toward the comet as slowly as possible so it could carry out a series of pre-programmed commands including taking unprecedented low-altitude images of the comet that could reveal surface features as small as an inch, before colliding with the icy surface.

    Scientists involved in the project said Thursday that--even after Rosetta goes silent--they have decades of work ahead of them analyzing all the data collected during the mission .

    During its final descent the probe will carry out a series of pre-programmed commands including taking unprecedented low-altitude images of the comet that could reveal surface features as small as an inch (2.5 centimeter).


    Mystery at island resort: Why did 2 sisters die?

    By Carla K. Johnson/AP Medical Writ 3:38pm, September 30, 2016
    The Korkki sisters, Annie and Robin/(NBC10, via Chris Korkki)
    Medical experts say the mysterious deaths of two vacationing American sisters in their tropical island villa likely won't be solved until investigators see toxicology test results.

    Hotel staff found 37-year-old Annie Marie Korkki and 42-year-old Robin Marie Korkki motionless in their villa last week at a resort on Seychelles' main island. The bodies showed no visible injuries.

    Autopsies found fluid in the lungs of both women and brain swelling in one. Experts say those are very general findings.

    Bruce Goldberger of the University of Florida College of Medicine says the known facts suggest possibilities ranging from drug overdose to carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Police said the women were seen drinking and were helped to their room by hotel personnel the night before they were found dead.


    BMW issues recall for new Takata air bag problem

    By Associated Press 3:31pm, September 30, 2016
    BMW is recalling 4,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada to fix a new and potentially deadly problem with Takata air bag inflators.

    The company says in government documents that the driver's front inflator can separate from a plate, shooting out metal and other debris.

    The companies traced the problem to incorrect welding at a Takata factory in Mexico. It's different from the problem that touched off the largest auto recall in U.S. history. In those vehicles, the ammonium nitrate used to inflate the air bags can degrade over time and blow the inflators apart, spewing shrapnel.

    The recall covers certain BMW X3 and X4 SUVs from the 2015 model year, and X5s from 2014 and 2015.

    Dealers will replace the driver's air bag at no cost starting November 11.