SHELBY COUNTY - A two-month investigation into illegal sexual activity at the Lockington Reserve in Shelby County has resulted in the arrest of nine individuals including the former Sidney Daily News editor, a former Piqua Park Board member and more arrests are pending.
During a press conference on Wednesday morning, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, who was joined by Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann and Bob Guillozet, said that “there were 25 to 30 cars per day going in there (the park). This is probably the tip of the iceberg.” Only part of the park was under surveillance during the 60-day investigation.
Lenhart said there was allegedly “lewd sexual activity” and described it as “anal sex, oral sex, guys running around naked, you name it.” He said that there were no women or children involved in the activity, but it was noted that one man, David Murray, 51, of Sidney, was allegedly seen masturbating in his car as “children were being dropped off” from the school bus in that area. He was previously arrested in October.
Lenhart said he was surprised by the age of the men. “Most of them are older,” including a 72-year-old. Another man works for American Airlines as a supervisory gate agent and had allegedly previously been arrested for “lewd public acts” in Texas. In response to a question, Lenhart said the American Airlines employee was still employed “as of yesterday” and “had a chance at a promotion” and was worried his arrest could affect his chances.
Lenhart said he had seen some of the footage of the surveillance at the park and “some of the films, in my 47 years (in law enforcement)….never seen anything like it…..this was in a public park. It is not tolerated.”
The sheriff said there had been “lots of complaints” about the activity at the park, which is part of the Miami Conservancy District and part of the Dayton Flood Plain District. He noted that the illicit activity took place “on park benches” and on the trails.
An ad on Craig’s List advertised the illegal activity and Lenhart said, “it was passed from one person to another” by word of mouth.
Lenhart said the activity is an “embarrassment. Not good advertising” for Shelby County and he said he has decided more drastic action must be taken. “We’re going to ask that (the) park be closed.”
He noted that he is asking the Shelby County Commissioners and Shelby County Engineer Bob Geuy to close that area to the public and only allow it to be used with a permit.
Ehemann said, “We’re not looking forward to closing the park. But we will do what we can” to make sure it is closed. She noted that the Shelby County Commissioners ended funding for the park several years ago.
Guillozet agreed, noting, “The county commission will back up the sheriff.”
Ehemann said that she called Barb Heilers, Cara Kellersmith and Melissa Clark, all members of the park board, twice and left messages that there was a “pressing” matter she needed to discuss, which was the activity in the park and the arrests. She noted that none of the women returned her calls and that fact was also noted by Lenhart.
The Sidney Daily News attempted to reach all three women for comment and was not able to reach them. A message left for Heilers had not been returned.
The sheriff’s office released the names and information of those arrested in the sting operation and the arrests of others are pending. They include:
• Dennis Baldwin, 64, of Arcanum. Baldwin faces one count of public indecency after video surveillance captured him involved in sexual activity with a male in the park.
• Jeffrey Billiel, 69, of Sidney. Billiel was the former Sidney Daily News editor and resigned his position immediately after his arrest. He faces one count of public indecency after surveillance captured him in sexual activity with an 83-year-old man.
• Gerry Drees, 53, of Russia. Drees is a volunteer firefighter with the Russia Fire Department. Drees faces one count of public indecency after surveillance captured him walking around in the park naked.
• James Miller, 52, of Bradford. Miller faces one count of public indecency after surveillance captured him involved in sexual activity with a male in the park.
• David Murray, 51, of Sidney. Murray was charged with one count of public indecency after he was observed masturbating while sitting in his vehicle in the park’s parking lot.
• Michael Perando, 55, of Piqua. Perando is a former member of the City of Piqua Parks Board. Perando faces two counts of public indecency after surveillance captured him involved in sexual activity with a male and another incident exposing himself.
• David Scott Stone, 47, of Vandalia. Stone is employed by American Airlines as a supervisory gate agent at the Dayton International Airport. Stone faces two counts of public indecency. Surveillance captured Stone involved in sexual activity with a male in one incident and in a second incident exposing himself. Both incidents were at the park.
• Joshua Taylor, 29, of Piqua. Taylor is charged with one count of public indecency after surveillance captured him involved in sexual activity with a male in the park.
• George Treon, 72, of Versailles. Treon faces one count of public indecency after surveillance captured him involved in sexual activity with a male.
Public indecency charges are a third degree misdemeanor with a fine up to $500 and a 60-day jail term. Those charged with exposing themselves face a fine up to $250 and a 30-day jail sentence. It is a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Others are being sought in the sting and those names and their charges will be made public following their arrests.
“It is a sad day,” Lenhart said. “Our job is to protect the public.”