10TV Looks At Group Home Concerns Following Jogger’s Murder

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Franklin County Children’s Services is promising a critical review of group homes following a deadly attack by a teenager who lived in one.

“They're yelling at me as I'm walking to my house,” said a recent caller to 911.
“Is it a group home for young boys?” asks the dispatcher.
“Yes,” said the resident

It was a late night in July on Whitehall Street. Residents of the home said the woman called them the “N-word.” When things got heated, she dialed 911.

Neighbors watched and worried. The neighbor tells 10TV that it was a horrible night.

“There were like four police cruisers who later called for paddy wagon cause they were going to arrest them all.  It was kind of scary,” said the woman.

According to the police report, the group home residents got confrontational. The report also says a home employee who tried to get the teenagers under control “left the scene.”

Officers ended up charging the kids with “riot.”

That was one incident of many 10TV discovered last year.

Records show Whitehall responded to calls at that home 704 times over 365 days. Most of those were missing person cases. The group home has to notify law enforcement and child services when someone is missing.

The operator of the Whitehall group home says it’s more vigilant than most in reporting when a child in its care leaves.

“The group home has to notify law enforcement... and child services when a child is missing

“It ties officers up. It ties dispatchers up, where we could be utilized in other parts of the city,” said Patrolman Mark Showalter, Whitehall PD.

Showalter says that’s not fair to other Whitehall residents. He worries that what happened in Blendon Township could occur in his community.

That’s where police charged a group home resident with murder.  Jordan Stewart is accused of killing Jane Juergens while she jogged at a park

Franklin County Children’s Services is investigating that case and now looking at how it places kids.

“These are children who deserve to be in a family setting. They deserve to have a home. They are not wayward children. They come from troubled family situations,” said Deborrah Armstrong.
But there are more restrictive environments that perhaps may be more suitable. 10TV looked at the teens charged with riot in Whitehall in July. Their combined records include charges for burglary, arson, assault, and gross sexual imposition.

The group home operator says they are trying to equip the teens to live in the real world. Neighbors and police say that operator has been responsive, although concerns remain.