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Denton
New Texas Health center for women and infants on track for summer opening

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton’s new specialty center for women and infants is well underway, with the center expected to open late next summer.

The 215,000-square-foot facility will feature 12 labor and delivery beds and two C-section suites along with six antepartum and 24 postpartum beds. The project also will expand the number of emergency department beds, adding 10 to the hospital’s current 28.

The facility will help meet the growing demand for OB-GYN services in the Denton area.

“We are the only hospital that provides OB services in our market, and the hospital we’re moving out of was built in 1987, so it just doesn’t meet the standards people expect today,” said Jeff Reecer, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.

The ground floor of the new building also will house an internal medicine residency program. Thirty residents will participate in the three-year program in Denton, scheduled to begin next summer.

Staff are expected to begin moving into the new building in June and open the facility in August. The current building housing obstetric departments will be demolished to make way for more parking, Reecer said.

“Our mission is to improve the health of people in the communities we serve, and obstetric services is a key service you have to make available to people if you’re going to fulfill that mission,” Reecer said. “This new facility is going to allow us to do that in a much more modern environment. We’re very excited.”


Crime
featured
A business fire and Denton police officer's arrest led 2021 crime stories
  • Updated

The most-read crime stories in the Denton Record-Chronicle this year touched on a woman being accused of setting fire to her family’s business and the FBI opening an investigation into a Denton police officer who allegedly viewed child pornography in his patrol car.

The Record-Chronicle followed a handful of crime stories this year from the initial report to follow-up stories.

Some of these stories will see future coverage in 2022.

Fire at Denton Sewing Center

Debbie Weigenant, co-owner of Denton Sewing Center, spoke to the Denton Record-Chronicle shortly after her daughter was arrested and accused of setting fire to the family business back in May. The sewing center, which has been in business since 1986, is still rebuilding from the fire, although it was able to reopen in a neighboring storefront.

The fire started at the building at 1504 Malone St. around 2:30 a.m. May 24, the same night there was a small fire behind Drug Emporium and a few days after a fire at the Holiday Lodge motel.

Jennifer Spillane

The Denton Fire Department connected Jennifer Spillane, 45, to the fires, and she was charged with three counts of arson. In September, she was deemed incompetent to stand trial by a judge.

Weigenant said it’s been a tough road for the past 21 years watching her daughter struggle with mental illness and drug addiction. She said the system has failed many people with mental illnesses, but she hopes her daughter can find the help she needs.

Denton police officer accused by the FBI of possessing child porn

David Schoolcraft was a 15-year veteran of the Denton Police Department when he was arrested on one count of distributing child pornography on March 3.

In the weeks that followed, federal court records stated that Schoolcraft used Kik, an instant messaging application, to send two sexually explicit videos late last year showing girls who appeared to be prepubescent.

Schoolcraft was an administrator of several child exploitation messaging groups, and at one point, Kik deleted one of his accounts, according to court records.

He allegedly used Kik to trade content that was “entirely underage” while he was “at the park, in his squad car, at the police department, and anywhere else he had Wi-Fi.”

Schoolcraft pleaded not guilty shortly after his arrest, and he resigned from the Police Department in April. On Tuesday, Schoolcraft changed his plea to guilty. A sentencing date hadn’t been published by Tuesday afternoon.

Schoolcraft faces up to 20 years in prison.

Man accused of shooting at Corinth police

Attorneys for a Corinth man accused of shooting at three police officers in February released surveillance footage in July.

The Corinth Police Department found Charles Williams Jr. near his home after they got a call about a reckless driver on Feb. 2, but Williams’ attorneys said he never should’ve had that confrontation with police since they didn’t actually see the alleged reckless driving.

Corinth police claimed the video released was “carefully edited” and that viewers were getting only the perspective from Williams’ camera. Surveillance footage shows Williams telling police repeatedly to leave his property, an officer shooting at him and Williams returning fire during an encounter that escalates within a few minutes.

Williams was arrested once he was cleared at the hospital and was charged with three counts of aggravated assault against a public servant. Corinth police said they first shot at him with less lethal munition.

Woman, two children died in a crash on University Drive

Twenty people and a dog died in car crashes in Denton this year as of Dec. 28, and a story about the deaths of three people in one crash stood out to Record-Chronicle readers.

Two young sisters and a 31-year-old woman died in a crash this spring, bringing an “unexplainable loss” to their local families. It was one of two fatal crashes this year along U.S. Highway 380 toward east Denton.

First responders were called out to a crash just before noon May 23 on U.S. 380 at Rockhill Road. Investigators said a white Mustang and black Mercedes were involved in a head-on crash in the westbound lanes.

The crash killed three people: Denton residents Kimberly Katherine, 4, and Karoline Jaclyn Satterfield, 4 months old, were described as happy, social butterflies. Jordan Nicole Dodson, 31, of Providence Village, underwent three kidney transplants throughout her life and was set to be married next year.

“People want to assign blame, but the reality is, regardless of what happened, two families have lost loved ones and are dealing with the devastation,” said Brian Rebecek, a spokesperson for the Dodson family, shortly after the crash. “We’re all dealing with this unexplainable loss.”

Dodson’s fiance was with her in the Mercedes at the time of the crash and was injured. The Satterfield sisters’ father and grandmother were with them during the crash, and both lived, although they were critically injured.

$45 million in meth the largest bust in Denton County

The Dallas Drug Enforcement Agency in January spoke for the first time about an October 2020 methamphetamine drug bust involving nearly 2,000 pounds of the drug, worth about $45 million.

Dallas DEA agents on Oct. 8, 2020, stopped an 18-wheeler in Denton County, although the agency declined to specify where on Interstate 35 the bust happened. Agents found about 663 packages that totaled about 1,930 pounds of meth.

Although the bust happened in Denton County, Dallas special agent in charge Eduardo Chavez said they didn’t know if its final destination was in the county.

Chavez said they seized about $45 million in product, based on what they believed was the current market price for the drug, from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.


Year_in_review
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In 2021, Blotter stories chronicled road dangers, misbehavior
  • Updated

Although Denton Record-Chronicle staff removed the well-known word “Blotter” from headlines this summer (partly as an experiment), the daily Blotter has remained a highly read staple where readers can get a glimpse into what happened in their city the day before.

It’s not uncommon for arrest and incident details to raise your eyebrows. This year, the most read Blotter items included a couple’s shenanigans on the Fourth of July, a mother’s arrest after her child fell out of her car, and a deadly crash on one of Denton’s main streets.

These nuggets were chosen as top five blotter items because of the number of unique visitors, not total page views, at DentonRC.com.

Motorcyclist dead following crash on McKinney Street

A 33-year-old motorcyclist was one of 20 people to die in a vehicle crash in Denton this year.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Anthony Minich of Denton died at about 7:52 p.m. Nov. 19 from blunt trauma. His death was ruled an accident.

Around 7:44 p.m., first responders learned of the crash on East McKinney Street near Laney Circle. Crash investigators found Minich was driving eastbound on McKinney when he went down Laney Circle “for an unknown reason,” and another driver struck him.

Pair broke away from gathering to engage in parking lot lewdness

Two people who left a gathering at the UC Denton apartments on the Fourth of July allegedly had oral sex in the parking lot, leading to their arrests on one count each of public lewdness.

A 911 caller around 8:39 p.m. that day told officers a man and woman were being intimate in the parking lot of the apartments on Bonnie Brae Street. The police report said officers saw the parked vehicle, noting the woman was standing outside and leaning through the open passenger door engaging in a sexual act.

While the 21-year-old woman said they were just talking, the 22-year-old man admitted they were having oral sex. Both were arrested and taken to the city jail.

Teen allegedly grabbed ex, argued with police as father tried to stop him

An 18-year-old who showed up intoxicated at his ex-girlfriend’s home allegedly yelled at everyone at the home and then threatened police officers called out to the scene.

Police on July 9 went to a house on Clubhouse Drive after the ex’s brother reported the disturbance. The 18-year-old allegedly tried to drag his ex out of her home, and his father was there trying to take him home.

Officers said the man’s father held him back while officers approached, but the teen yelled that police couldn’t tell him what to do and allegedly moved his arms away when they tried to handcuff him.

They eventually arrested him on one count of public intoxication and one count of resisting arrest, search or transport.

Woman allegedly skip-scanned party supplies at Walmart

In October, a 43-year-old woman allegedly stole some party supplies from the Walmart on Loop 288.

She was accused of skip-scanning only certain merchandise on the evening of Oct. 13. A lot of balloons, a cheese board, cake stands and orange plates were among the items she tried to steal for a total of $275.87, according to police.

She was arrested and charged with theft between $100 and $750.

Driver arrested after baby falls out of her vehicle

A 42-year-old woman was accused of abandoning or endangering her child after her baby fell out of a moving car.

A baby, still in a car seat, fell out of a car and into traffic on West University Drive on Aug. 23. One 911 caller told police they saw a driver turn left onto University near Town Center Trail, and during the turn, the right rear door opened and the child fell face-down into the middle of the intersection.

The driver then allegedly hopped out of the car to put the baby back in and then took off. Police caught up with the driver and found that the child, a little over a year old, had a large bump on the forehead and some road rash.

Paramedics checked on and released the child. The child’s mother was arrested.


Crime
featured
Ex-Denton officer changes plea to guilty in federal child porn case
  • Updated

A former Denton police officer accused of possessing child pornography will no longer face a jury trial next year after instead pleading guilty.

David Schoolcraft was first arrested in March for allegedly sending and viewing child pornography late last year. While he first pleaded not guilty shortly after his arrest, Schoolcraft now has changed his plea to guilty.

Instead of a jury trial, a judge now will sentence Schoolcraft, 37, in the child pornography case. The plea agreement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, was sealed Tuesday. In a plea agreement, parties can agree upon a sentence for the defendant, but the sentencing is ultimately left to the judge’s discretion.

The penalty, according to a document filed Tuesday, is up to 20 years in prison if the content showed minor(s) who weren’t yet 12 years old. The court record says Schoolcraft’s phone had images of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor and a minor who wasn’t yet 12 years old.

The FBI first arrested Schoolcraft in early March, but the charge in his arrest wasn’t available to the public until the following day after his initial court appearance. Schoolcraft pleaded not guilty to one count of distributing child pornography, and a jury trial was set to begin Jan. 10, 2022.

According to records, FBI agents in Newark, New Jersey, were looking into one particular group he was a member of and were able to identify him through his IP address, which they subpoenaed from Kik, an instant messaging application.

Schoolcraft allegedly used Kik to send two sexually explicit videos showing “prepubescent” girls on or about Dec. 23-29, 2020. Court records show he was also an administrator and member of several child exploitation messaging groups.

At the time of his arrest, Schoolcraft was a 15-year veteran of the Denton Police Department with an annual salary of $91,000. He resigned from the department in April.

Court records show Schoolcraft hasn’t been sentenced yet. The plea came before a magistrate judge, who recommended the court accept his guilty plea, but only a federal judge can sentence him.


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