It was a notable year for law enforcement as the Hampstead Police Department swore in a new police chief and Mount Airy put into service its first police force. But, throughout the county, a number of high-profile crimes were adjudicated while others were committed.
Changes to police forces
Steve Gossage was appointed by Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin and sworn in as the new chief during the March Town Council meeting. He started work on March 27, taking over the position from Chief Ken Meekins, according to a news release from the town.
Gossage brought with him 34 years of experience with the Baltimore County Police Department and was selected from a 20-person candidate pool.
"I expect Chief Gossage to build upon the excellent police team we currently have and to maintain the high standards currently employed by the department," Nevin said.
In Mount Airy, during a Sept. 11 Patriot’s Day ceremony, five officers were sworn in to the newly formed Mount Airy Police Department. Sgt. Curt Snyder, Cpl. Russell Halterman, Pfc. James Brooks, Pfc. Michael Ginevra and Pfc. Christie Medeiros took the oath from Mount Airy Police Chief Douglas Reitz.
The seven members began their official service on Oct. 1. Previously, five Maryland State Police troopers served in the town through the Resident Trooper Program.
“There’s never a manual for starting a new police department,” Reitz said.
Fatal crashes adjudicated
Guilty verdicts were handed down in 2017 in two cases involving deadly auto crashes from the previous year.
On June 29, Michele Seibel, a former North Carroll High School teacher, pleaded guilty to two counts of homicide with a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, but received no active jail time for her role in a February 2016 crash on Md. 27 that killed Mary Lou Wolfe and Gertrude Rose.
On July 25, Florida man Wendy Morpas was found guilty of criminal negligent manslaughter by vehicle. Morpas was driving a tractor-trailer when he collided with a vehicle on Feb. 19, 2016, killing Westminster bakery owner Jeannie Vogel. On Sept. 21, Morpas was sentenced to three years incarceration with all but 18 months suspended.
Child abuse case
Paul Trapani, 56, and Melissa Trapani, 46, were each charged with more than 30 counts related to child and animal abuse, according to electronic court records. During a hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court, both Paul Trapani and Melissa Trapani elected to take an Alford plea to six counts each of neglect of a minor.
According to investigators, when they went to the Trapani house, they found animal feces on the floor. Melissa Trapani showed the investigators one of her children who was sleeping on his bed, a mattress and box spring without sheets. The investigators then saw two kids peering out from a door that looked like a cage. Inside was a naked girl and a boy with a diaper taped to him. Both children showed developmental problems. The four other kids were covered with flea bites and were later diagnosed with several health problems.
Sexual assaults in Westminster
No arrests regarding either case had been reported as of Dec. 15.
Shortly after those two assaults, on April 3, a Westminster man pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and one count of first-degree sexual offense. David John Stultz III, 49, of the unit block of Pennsylvania Avenue, was sentenced to life in prison in August after pleading guilty to abducting and sexually assaulting a woman.
Two arrested in infant’s death
Two Westminster residents, Tyler Tennant and Ashley Love Davis, were indicted on Aug. 31 and later arrested on child abuse charges in relation to the death of Davis’ daughter on Jan. 7, 2016. The infant died in the hospital following breathing complications. An autopsy determined that the death was a homicide.
Tennant and Love are scheduled to appear in court on Jan 2, according to electronic court records.