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Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Investigators hope cars will supply evidence

By Margie Wuebker
Investigators are hoping data recorders taken from two demolished cars will yield valuable information regarding a crash that claimed the lives of four young men early Saturday morning.
Such information could include engine speed/revolutions per minute as well as any indication of evasive maneuvers like braking, according to Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey.
"This will assist us in preparation of a timeline leading up to the last critical event and answer a lot of questions in the process," Grey added.
The family of Jordan Moeller gave authorities permission to search his 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix. The 18-year-old driver and his 19-year-old passengers. Jordan Diller, Jordan Goettemoeller and Bradley Roeckner, were pronounced dead at the scene near the intersection of County Road 716A and Brockman Road, north of St. Sebastian.
Authorities sought a search warrant to inspect Nicholas Schwieterman's 1996 Pontiac Bonneville and to remove not only the data recorder but the front-seat air bags. The air bags, along with DNA samples, fingerprints from the car interior, hair embedded in the air bags and Schwieterman's clothing, are being analyzed at the BCI & I laboratory to definitively establish the identity of the driver who reportedly ran the stop sign and caused the crash, Mercer County Prosecutor Andy Hinders said.
"We have statements that Nick Schwieterman was behind the wheel," Hinders continued. "Forensic evidence will support what we believe."
The 22-year-old Schwieterman remains incarcerated on a $1 million bond after four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated were filed in Celina Municipal Court. Tests administered at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater pinpointed his blood-alcohol content as 0.134 significantly over the legal 0.08 reading.
The case has been bound over to a Mercer County grand jury, which is meeting today. Schwieterman is scheduled to make an initial appearance Friday before Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Ingraham on an anticipated indictment.
Grey said Lt. Martin Emerine and Detective Chris Hamberg continue to follow up on rumors ranging from where the drivers and their passengers spent the early evening hours to where they were headed at the time of the crash.
Schwieterman's passenger, Kyle Schmitmeyer, 21, will appear March 28 in municipal court to face a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge. According to Hinders, the charge was filed when the young man refused to identify the driver after repeated warnings.
Hinders said he has heard numerous comments regarding the odds of two vehicles coming together at precisely the same instant at the intersection of two country roads.
"I went to the scene at 3 a.m. and met only one vehicle on U.S. 127," he said. "And there was only one other vehicle on Brockman Road other than emergency personnel. These things happen, but I'm sure the odds are staggering."
Flowers have been placed at the edge of the field where the Moeller car came to rest.
"We have been chasing down a lot of rumors and talking to a lot of people," Hinders said. "The goal of the investigation is to leave no stone unturned. We want to provide answers for the parents and facts, not rumors, to the prosecutor's office."
Additional online story on this date
A Celina couple appeared in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday afternoon and entered no contest pleas to charges stemming from a May 2005 arson fire that heavily damaged their flooring business. [More]
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