Top Niles stories of 2015: Nos. 7-5

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crime, tragedy and new business dominated the headlines during a busy 2015 in the Niles and Buchanan communities.
Throughout the next several issues of the Niles Daily Star, staff will count down the top stories of the year, culminating with the No. 1 story in the New Year’s Eve edition of the paper.
Editorial staff created the list based on stories that were the most read, most talked about and most impactful in the community. Stories seven through five are as follows:

No. 7: Multiple embezzlement cases

There was no shortage of embezzlement cases in the greater Niles area in 2015.

Earlier this month, Niles’ Christine Mahar was sentenced to three years of probation for embezzling money while serving as an office assistant for the Howard Township in Cass County. She was ordered to pay more than $28,000 in restitution to the township.

In April, former Berrien County Commissioner Bob Wooley was sentenced to 34 months for embezzling more than $300,000 from the North Berrien Senior Center over a period of seven years. Wooley, who served as commissioner representing District 1 for 16 years, was the director of the senior center during the time of the offense. He resigned from his commissioner seat as a result of the case.

No. 6: Shooting suspect apprehended after manhunt

In March, a 24-year-old woman was critically wounded after a shooting at Aaron’s Mini Storage in Niles.

Police soon named Michael Jerome Exom, III — the victim’s boyfriend — as the main suspect. He allegedly shot the victim during a domestic argument, according to police.

A nearly two-month long manhunt ensued that eventually culminated in U.S. Marshalls capturing Exom at a residence on the west side of South Bend, Indiana.

Exom is facing charges in Berrien County of attempted murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and unlawful imprisonment.

No. 5: Amtrak stabbing suspect found not guilty by reason of insanity

A Saginaw man accused of stabbing four people on an Amtrak train that was stationed in Niles was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Berrien County Judge Dennis Wiley made the ruling in October after a report by the state forensic examiner found the accused, 45-year-old Michael Darnell Williams, “mentally ill.”

Williams was charged with five counts of attempted murder, each carrying a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charges stemmed from an incident Dec. 5, 2014, on the Amtrak train stationed in Niles.

Following the ruling, Williams placed in the care of the state’s mental health system.