The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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December 31, 2013

Top stories of 2013: Enid Renaissance headliner of the year

ENID, Okla. — The ongoing Enid Renaissance Project was the top story of 2013 as voted by News & Eagle staff members.

Other top stories were the failure of the city’s $50 million parks plan at the ballot box, the dedication of the Vietnam Wall Memorial at Enid Woodring Regional Airport, murders in Enid and the situation involving Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid’s future.

Here are the top five stories as judged by the News & Eagle staff:

No. 5 — Vietnam Wall Memorial dedication

Dedication on Nov. 11 of the memorial to those who lost their lives in the Vietnam War capped a 21⁄2 year effort to bring the 80 percent scale replica of the black granite memorial in Washington, D.C., to Enid.

Fundraising efforts in the community generated $250,000, which was matched by an anonymous donation of $250,000 and made up the $500,000 purchase price of the wall. The fundraising committee wound up raising more than $400,000 in all, and received approximately another $125,000 to $150,000 in assistance in donated materials and labor.

The wall here is made of anodized aluminum and contains the names of 58,286 Americans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, including several from Enid.

No. 4 — Murders in Enid

Sadly, there were two murders apparently committed in Enid in 2013.

On Aug. 17, 33-year-old Crystal Star Johnson was found beaten to death in her home at 601 W. Maple. Jason Dwayne Lowe, 24, of Enid, has been charged with first-degree murder. He faces life in prison, life without parole or death on the charge.

Enid and Garfield County 911 Center received a call from a person at 601 W. Maple who said a woman inside was unresponsive and appeared to have blunt-force trauma to her face. The caller, Johnson’s roommate, later told police she was asked to check on Johnson by a neighbor in their duplex.

The neighbor told police he heard Lowe beating Johnson the night before, but it only lasted about 10 minutes, according to court documents. Both the roommate and the neighbor told police it was common knowledge among their social circle that Lowe “routinely” abused Johnson, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states Lowe used Johnson’s debit card to get cash for the purchase of an 1983 Ford Fairmont and also made multiple ATM debits from the account at locations leading to Hobart, where Lowe was arrested.

On Dec. 16, David Richard Wimmer, 43, was found shot to death at 413 W. Walnut.

Michael Laurence Berdahl, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder. He faces life in prison, life without parole or death if convicted.

A second charge of felon in possession of a firearm also was filed. It is punishable by one to 10 years imprisonment.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, at 6:48 p.m. Dec. 16, a man who lives at 413 W. Walnut with Berdahl arrived home and found Wimmer shot to death.

Enid Police Department officers noted a single gunshot wound to Wimmer’s chest and an empty holster on the bed next to Wimmer, according to an affidavit prepared by EPD Detective Shawn Ramsey.

Ramsey was able to view video surveillance from a nearby building and saw Wimmer and Berdahl entering and exiting the house at 413 W. Walnut several times. At 5:53 p.m., Berdahl was seen leaving the residence in a white Buick Roadmaster and not returning.

Police in Anthony, Kan., contacted Enid police after locating the vehicle at a residence there.

According to Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, Wimmer had two gunshot wounds: one to his chest and one to the back of his head.

Legal progress also was made in the December 2012 murder of Heath Crites.

Two men were arrested and charged in Crites’ shooting death. Ronnie Eugene Fuston was charged in March with first-degree murder. In December, Anthony Brown Jr. also was charged with first-degree murder in the case.

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