Christopher M. Peters was convicted of murder in September for the killing of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 16 years in October. (DHI Media/ File photo/ Kirsten Barnhart)
Christopher M. Peters was convicted of murder in September for the killing of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 16 years in October. (DHI Media/ File photo/ Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Several crimes around the area had citizens on the lookout in 2017.

In particular, Van Wert saw the bust of a two meth labs within a few months time. In January, the Van Wert Police Department investigated an apartment on West Main Street where they discovered a lab. Abby Thatcher, 25, and Ronald Smith, 26, both of Van Wert, were charged with felonies and were sentenced to 3 years prison time.

Then in April, The Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at a house in Ohio City where they found a meth lab. Soon after, four people were arrested. Thomas Buckner Jr., 41; Jessica Garrett, 36; and Reanne Jordan, 18 were arrested and charged with illegal manufacturing of drugs, a felony of the first degree, while Dan Swoveland, 63, was charged will illegal manufacturing of drugs, a felony of the second degree.

While drug arrests continued to happen throughout the year, Van Wert readers were shocked to learn about a shooting near the Middle Point Ballpark in April.

Blake Kimmet, 19, of Lima, shot a young male in the leg and fled the scene. The search didn’t take long as Kimmet turned himself in soon after.

Kimmet was charged with one count of felonious assault, a felony of the second degree and aggravated riot, a felony of the fourth degree. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

An escaped prisoner from Paulding had Van Wert citizens on high alert in August. Brandon Powell, 32, escaped during a transport from a mental institution in Toledo to the Paulding County Jail.

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office searched for Powell, who was considered armed and dangerous, for more than 72 hours. Ultimately Powell shot and kill himself in his parents’ crawl space.

After the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger in 2016, Christopher Peters was arrested. In 2017, he stood trial for the death of the boy.

After a week-long trial in September, Peters was found guilty for the death of Ridinger. He received a life sentence plus 16 years in October for aggravated murder, second-degree felonious assault, and child endangerment, a third-degree felony.

Just as the community was grieving the loss of one child, another was found dead in Grover Hill. Three-month-old Zyathen Blair was found dead with evidence of blunt force trauma near the end of October.

Interviews were conducted by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office and as a result, Tristen A. Blair, 19, of Grover Hill, was arrested and charged preliminary with one count of murder.

Blair is set to stand trial in 2018.