Copies of Newark Advocate articles about the 1942 crash are available in our Genealogy & Local History collection, which is located in the Reference Department, Upper Level, Main Library. Ask for the Vertical File, Airplane Disasters, which includes copies of the original newspaper coverage and articles commemorating the 50th anniversary in 1992. This material is for In-Library Use only.
.22 Caliber Murders
For a whole year between December 1977 and December 1978, two brothers, Thaddeus and Gary Lewingdon, had folks in three counties afraid for their lives. They began a series of murders that ended the lives of ten people in Licking, Fairfield and Franklin Counties. Their motive seems to have been money, according to the two books that have been written about the cases [See sources below].
The first killings occurred at Forker's Café on Union Street in Newark on December 10, 1977. Joyce Vermillion and Karen Dodrill had closed the bar and headed for their cars when they were shot to death and robbed. The second case involved Dorothy and Robert McCann and their friend, Christine Herdman, at the McCann home in Franklin County on February 13, 1978. The third case was Jenkin Jones at his home on State Route 37 south of Granville. Fourth was Rev. Jerry Fields who was serving as a security guard at a club in Fairfield County. Fifth were Jerry and Martha Martin at their home on Morse Road in Columbus. All these nine murders were committed by Gary and Thaddeus together. Finally, Gary decided to go out on his own to kill Joseph Annick in Columbus. He made the mistake of using Annick's credit card at a department store, which led to his arrest on the store premises. A year of investigation in the three counties had seemed fruitless until Gary's arrest. He and Thaddeus freely admitted to the murders, and finally the case was solved.
A bizarre twist to the entire murder spree was the fact that Claudia Yasko, a young woman from Columbus, Ohio, came forward with the suspicion that her boyfriend and his buddy were the killers. Claudia had a long history of mental illness and often believed she was guilty of things which she did not actually do. Besides that, she often claimed to be psychic. She apparently knew many details about some of the cases that were not in the general media. She, her boyfriend and his friend were arrested and jailed, but then the murders continued. As it turns out, there was a link between her boyfriend and one of the killers, which provided her with information. Her attorney had enough influence to bring in investigators from Playboy Magazine, along with its unlimited resources. With the eventual confession of the Lewingdon's, these three were off the hook.
Gary and Thaddeus Lewingdon both died in prison.
[Sources: Newark Public Library vertical files of newspaper clippings, primarily from the Newark Advocate; Unveiling Claudia: a True Story of Serial Murder, by Daniel Keyes, Bantom Books, 1986; A Year of Fear, by Bill Queen, 2005]