Pubdate: Sat, 05 Oct 2002
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2002 Dayton Daily News
Author: Cathy Mong


Informant Said Pot Was Being Sold At Farmhouse

LEWISBURG  -- A tip from an informant about marijuana trafficking led 
Preble County authorities to send the sheriff's emergency services unit on 
a surprise drug raid to a rural farmhouse on Sept. 27, Sheriff Tom Hayes 
said Friday.

The specially trained police squad rarely is assigned to serve a search 
warrant, Hayes said. But last week, Preble County sheriff's commanders had 
learned that more than a dozen men might be at the home, so they sent the 
emergency services unit. The unit's 15 members are equipped to handle 
drownings, water rescues, and hostage and other high-risk situations.

Minutes after the officers forced their way into Clayton J. Helriggle's 
rented farmhouse at 1282 Ohio 503 outside West Alexandria, a Lewisburg 
police sergeant assigned to the group shot and killed the 23-year-old man.

The officer, 41-year-old Sgt. Kent Moore, has been placed on administrative 
leave while Montgomery County sheriff's officers investigate Helriggle's 
death, Lewisburg Police Chief John Wright said.

"He is in seclusion," Wright said Friday. "Naturally, he's taking it very 

Moore, a Lewisburg police officer since 1983, also is a certified weapons 
instructor who serves as a sheriff's deputy when the Preble County 
emergency services unit is activated.

The Preble County sheriff said Friday last week's raid was an unusual 
assignment for his office's emergency services unit.

"Most of the time, we don't even use them on the search warrants," he said. 
"It all depends on what it is."

He said a three-day investigation into allegations of marijuana trafficking 
at the Lanier Twp. farmhouse where Helriggle and four others lived included 
"intelligence they gathered" and information from an unidentified informant 
who said "an estimated dozen or more people" would be at the farmhouse 
Sept. 27.

"That's what made it a little more high risk. You gotta be careful on 
something like that," Hayes said.

Eaton Municipal Judge Paul Henry approved a search warrant earlier on Sept. 27.

On Monday, he ordered it sealed until the investigation is complete.

Helriggle, who worked for his family's business, Helriggle Garage Doors, 
had a routine, said Sharon Helriggle, his mother.

"He'd work, go home, work out, take a shower and take a nap," she said.

Then friends would come to the farmhouse for a night of guitar playing, 
movies, playing games in the back of the farm and relaxing.

Drinking beer and smoking marijuana was part of their routine, Helriggle's 
mother said.

"There were easily 15 to 18 of them here, sometimes more," Helriggle's 
father, Michael, said.

Police returned to the farmhouse Sept. 28 to execute the search warrant. 
Officers seized a small amount of marijuana, pipes and a bong, papers used 
in rolling the drug, and weapons, according to a Preble County sheriff's 
incident report written Wednesday.

Also found in the house "in close proximity to the body," Hayes said, was a 
9 mm handgun owned by Helriggle.

That gun, which friends said Helriggle kept in his room, is at the heart of 
the disagreement between police and Helriggle's roommates and relatives. 
The roommates and relatives say Helriggle had a plastic cup full of water - 
not a gun - in his hand when he walked down dimly lighted stairs before 
Moore shot him in the chest once with a shotgun.

According to the sheriff's report, members of the emergency services unit 
entered the house, and two officers shot at three dogs. Three roommates 
were subdued and another, Helriggle, was encountered coming down the stairs 
with a gun, according to the report.

One of the roommates, Ian Arnold, said Helriggle walked downstairs after 
being awakened from a nap and carried only a blue plastic cup.

"I don't know what cup they're talking about," Hayes said a few days after 
the shooting.

Moore, certified as a peace officer in 1983, became a full-time officer in 
Lewisburg in 1991. He also has been a member of the Preble County emergency 
services unit since 1992.

Wright said Moore's personnel file "is filled with more commendations than 
anything else," and pointed to plaques on the wall of the Lewisburg Police 
Department, including one with a resolution from the Ohio Senate 
recognizing him as the 1995 Officer of the Year.

Moore received that award for coming to the aid of a woman Feb. 6, 1995, 
after she wrecked her car on Interstate 70, had a seizure and fell into 
freezing water. Moore held the woman's body out of the water and radioed 
for help.

"He's the kind of officer you want around," Wright, his police chief, said 
Friday. "He's very stable, well-rounded."
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