Dowagiac Top 10 stories of 2015: woman killed in home; former warehouse demolished; developer pleads guilty

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Marked by several major triumphs for the city and school district along with a handful of shocks, setbacks and tragedies, 2015 was yet another monumental year for Dowagiac and its neighboring communities.

Throughout the next several issues of the Dowagiac Daily News, 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.

Leader Publications’ editorial staff created the list based on stories that were the most read, most talked about and most impactful in the community. Stories four through two are as follows:

4: Dowagiac woman found murdered in home

A Dowagiac family was forever devastated following a shooting that occurred during the late evening hours of May 12.

At around 9:48 p.m. that day, deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a residence on Flanders Street in Wayne Township after Cass Central Dispatch received a call reporting a shooting at the home. When police arrived, they found that one of the occupants of the home, 42-year-old Laura Jean Stineback, had been shot to death, receiving multiple gunshot wounds.

The two other occupants of the home at the time of the incident were Stineback’s husband, Terry Ray Stineback, and her 9-year-old daughter, according to police.

Terry Stineback was taken into custody by police for questioning; authorities suspect that the man shot his wife during an argument that turned physical. He was later arraigned in Cass County Court, charged with charged with murder and assault with intent to murder.

Stineback pleaded not guilty to the charges against him during an appearance in court on June 3.

The daughter, meanwhile, was placed with family friends after an examination at the hospital. She was unharmed during the altercation, police said.

Terry Ray Stineback’s case is expected to go to trial in April 5.


3: Former Goerlich building demolished

The skyline of downtown Dowagiac was forever altered earlier this month, after demolition crews contracted by the city tore down the big grey building that has sat near the railroad tracks for nearly a century.

What was once a giant three-story warehouse built by the famed Round Oak Stove Company now lies in ruin, after workers with Melching Inc. spent most of December destroying the former Goerlich building located near the intersection of Division and Railroad streets downtown. Contractors are currently sorting through the debris to separate the wood, metal and concrete in preparation for final cleanup.

Built in 1916 by the Dowagiac heating company, the giant grey warehouse was operated by Round Oak until it went out of business in 1946. The building was run for many years by Goerlich Muffler Company, which closed in the late ‘70s.

Despite attempts to repurpose the building since, the warehouse has remained largely vacant, and has fallen victim to vandalism, trespassing and deterioration.

In May, the city acquired the old building and quickly set about trying to secure funding for its demolition. The government received a $250,000 blight elimination grant from the state in July, which will pay for the majority of the $392,000 price tag attached to the demolition project.

Once cleanup of the site is complete, the city will proceed with plans to turn the warehouse grounds into green space.


2: Theater developer pleads guilty

Dreams of seeing the silver screen return to the Grand Old City turned into a nightmare for local officials.

Developer Ken Allen pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted larceny in a building earlier this month in Cass County Court. The Sister Lakes man had been charged with a count of embezzlement by the county prosecutor’s office in the summer, following a criminal investigation by Dowagiac police into his efforts to transform a former Front Street storefront into a single-screen movie theater.

According to law enforcement, police began looking into the financials of the project after the city, which was administering state grant funding toward the construction, began to notice a lack of progress from the developer. Allen had been working to transform the former Mr. K building to a theater since 2013.

Police discovered that Allen had invoiced the city for several pieces of theater and construction equipment that detectives believed were never actually purchased. Authorities confirmed these suspicions when a search of the building and Allen’s home failed to uncover the materials Allen claimed for reimbursement. Police also contacted the companies Allen claimed to have purchased the goods from, and were told that no record of the purchases existed.

Allen is scheduled to face Judge Michael Dodge for sentencing Feb. 5.

The developer is expected to be ordered to pay $80,000 worth of restitution back to the city of Dowagiac.