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Mount Vernon killings prompt Kenyon safety alerts

Mount Vernon killings prompt Kenyon safety alerts

Photo by Cora Markowitz

Students on Wednesday morning may have glanced at their phones and seen that a person of interest in a double-homicide in Mount Vernon was at large. The homicides were the number-one trending item on Facebook’s homepage for a time on Wednesday.

Sandra Lee Stelk, 50, of Mount Vernon and Jamie Lynn Barber, 23, of Newark, Ohio have been identified as the victims of the killing. They were found Wednesday at a home in the 18600 block of Coshocton Road, between Mount Vernon and Gambier.

Travis Bonham, 31, son of Stelk, remains a person of interest in the case. According to Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer, he was believed to be driving a 2011 black Dodge Charger registered to Sandra’s husband, David Stelk, with the licence plate “STELK2.” Barber, Bonham’s girlfriend, split her time between a home in Newark and the Stelks’ home, according to Shaffer.

Shaffer said in a live-streamed press conference Wednesday afternoon that he didn’t know if Bonham was armed. (A Kenyon email warned students he was dangerous and was not to be approached.)

At the time of the press conference, detectives were processing the home of Sandra and David Stelk and had not yet had the opportunity to discuss with David Stelk the availability of weapons within the house or locations of weapons, according to Shaffer. In a 911 call, Stelk’s daughter told an operator that her mother had been assaulted and was potentially dead, with “blood all over her” and “blood by her head.” Both Stelk and Barber were dead when authorities arrived on the scene.

Six elementary schools, including Wiggin Street Elementary, one middle school and one high school were placed on lockdown during school hours on Wednesday.

In July 2014, Bonham was indicted by a grand jury on a fourth-degree felony charge for stolen property after he was found in possession of a car that had been reported stolen, according to Knox County Municipal Court records. He also has nine convictions for domestic violence in Licking County. He’s been involved in 16 cases in Newark since 2003 and was released from a prison sentence at the Ross Correctional Facility last year, according to Licking County Municipal Court records.

Shaffer was unable to comment on how the two women were killed. At print time, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office did not have a suspect in custody.

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