Allison Moore, 22, from Colerain Township in Ohio, has been formally charged with the murder of Nancy Hershman. She has also been charged with Burglary of a Dwelling, a Class B felony, concerning the Hershman home, and another charge, Conspiracy to Commit Burglary, also a Class B felony.
According to Prosecutor Hertel, on December 29 the night began with juveniles and Moore driving from Colerain to Cross Plains. The carload made their way to the home of Ryan Jackson at 8879 S. Locust Street, Cross Plains, where he was robbed at gunpoint.
Court records indicate that Jackson told police he was awakened about 11:30 p.m. by a "bang", which he said was the assailants coming through his front door. They then kicked in his bedroom door brandishing a black handgun.
Jackson said they demanded he give them his money, which he did. The amount came to about $600, which was money from both Jackson and his girlfriend, who was also in the bedroom at the time of the robbery. A juvenile, described in the affidavit as D.H. took about an ounce of marijuana that Jackson was possessing illegally.
Jackson said he knew the armed robber, because the juveniles' father has a construction company and had done some work on the home Jackson was living in. He said D.H. was wearing a black sock-hat like a toboggan, a black neck warmer, black cloth gloves, and a pair of "Shaq" shoes.
Allison Moore was the owner and driver of the car that night. The group continued with their rampage of crime, telling police they went to four separate homes with the intent to take money or other valuables. Police only gave information on two homes, the Jackson residence, Cross Plains, and Hershman residence, Milan.
They then traveled to Milan, to 607 Ellis Street, the home of Nancy Hershman. This home was also a residence familiar to one of the juveniles who had ties to Ripley County. Moore admitted she went inside the Hershman home in an attempt to take money. She said that D.H. and another juvenile, S.N., were all three inside the Hershman home after they broke the door down.
A short confrontation with Hershman ended with her being shot with the .40 caliber handgun. The autopsy report would later reveal that Hershman indeed died from a single gunshot wound to the neck and/or facial area.
Investigators say nothing was missing from the Hershman home. Moore told police after Hershman was shot, that she ran. The group then traveled back to Colerain. When police questioned Moore, they said she showed little or no remorse for the shooting.
Another twist to the story is that the gun was purchased illegally just shortly after Christmas by a 15-year-old juvenile - the one who had ties to Ripley County. Police say that the juvenile, D.H. had been placed on probation in March of 2012, for a period of one year in Ripley County. However, just days before the murder on December 21, 2012, his probation was terminated by the judge. Law enforcement would not say what D.H. was on probation for.
Hertel noted that while at first it was reported that the home of Hershman was chosen at random, that is not exactly the case. While much of the case is under investigation and not everything was released at the press conference, the prosecutor said there were ties to the juveniles involved, the homes they went to and people they were connected with in the county.
Authorities believe Moore and the juveniles set out to commit robbery from the interviews obtained from those involved.
The prosecutor said Ripley County has every intention of having both of the 15-year-olds, D.H. and S.N., who are now in custody in Hamilton County, Ohio, brought to justice in Ripley County. He went on to say the prosecutor's office's intention is to request the juveniles be waived into adult court and tried as adults in the matter. In that case, they could face the same charges as Moore, which are Murder, Burglary, and Conspiracy to Commit Burglary.
While it is too early to say whether the death penalty would be considered, the question was raised by media at the press conference with authorities saying it's not off the table.
Hertel again expressed his remorse to the family of Hershman, saying she was a pillar of the community, and a leader in her church. "We're going to do what we can to prosecute," he assured those in attendance at the press conference. He went on to say the crimes "sends shivers down the spine" in a small sleepy community such as Milan.
The arrests of Moore and two juveniles came late Saturday, January 5 with police releasing information concerning the arrests on Sunday, January 6. Moore is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center in Cincinnati. Ripley County prosecutors have requested she be extradited to Ripley County. Hertel said if she waives extradition, it could be a few days before she is in court. If she resists, it would take longer.
The two juveniles are being held in the juvenile detention center in Cincinnati. Requests for them to be waived into adult court and brought to Ripley County have been made.
Indiana State Police, along with the prosecutorial team had high praise for the Colerain and Fairfield township police departments for their cooperation in the matter. They have also worked with Milan Town Marshal Gary Skaggs, who was in attendance at the press conference. He said in his 17 years in law enforcement in the Milan area, he doesn't remember another murder inside the town limits.
Prosecutor Hertel expressed condolences to the Hershman family, many of whom were gathered at the courthouse annex building in Versailles on Monday.
With numerous news crews set up, the prosecutor continued by saying he has been involved with a number of cases over the past 14 years of his career, but never to the extent that he was with this case. He noted that watching the Indiana State Police do their jobs was not only interesting, but confirmed their professionalism and thorough approach.
The prosecutor thanked a number of people for their work on the case, including Indiana State Police Detectives Pete Tressler, Tracy Rohlfing, Tom Baxter, First Sgt. Anthony Scott, Steve Weigel and Vance Patton. He praised his team, which includes: Ryan King, Kurt Enneking, and Shane Tucker. A resident who played an intregal part in helping with getting witnesses to come forward is Versailles resident Ron Pollard. He was thanked from the prosecutor who said we need more people like him who are willing to get involved.
The investigation is ongoing with officials stating more arrests could be made in the case.
Hershman family responds
In a press conference held at the Milan First Baptist Church, also on Monday, January 7 Dawn Hershman, Nancy Hershman's only child, spoke with the media. Flanked by family friend, Randy Ashcraft, her soon to be ex-husband, Mike Evans, and children, Keegan and Coty, Dawn told the media she and those gathered with her appreciated all of the hard work law enforcement has done. "We also would like to thank our community for the support and encouragement," they noted.
In a prepared statement, it noted, "Nancy Hershman was a pillar of this community and with these arrests, our hope is that she will be at peace. We also hope that these arrests will bring closure to our community and all of the people that knew and loved Nancy."
"My mom was a wonderful lady," Dawn told those gathered at the church.
Ashcraft, who is the former Dearborn County Coroner, and close friend of Dawn's, told the media that there had been a lot of speculation in the community. These arrests have put that to rest. Dawn said she knew from the beginning she was a suspect, but also knew the truth. She said those who thought she would or even could do such a thing to her own mother don't know her. The group noted the speculations and rumors have been hurtful.
Grandson Coty noted, "This isn't like she just passed away." Hershman's other grandson, Keegan, resumed his classes on Monday, Jan. 7 at Milan Middle School, where he is in the eighth grade. They were both close to their grandmother.
The murder has people in Milan locking their doors at night and wondering how something so tragic could have happened to someone so wonderful.
Sue Greer, who heads up the local food pantry, has lost a dear friend in Nancy. She told the Osgood Journal that after Hershman would run her school bus route, she would stop at the pantry and see what needed to be done. "She would always help me with whatever I had," Greer noted.
Dawn said her mother would have given her last cent if someone was in need. She said if those who allegedly committed the crimes that night would just have asked, they would have gotten anything they wanted. "That's how mom was," she said. "She was an angel."
Shopping every single year on the day after Christmas with her mother was something Dawn said that took place in 2012 as usual. "We headed out in that nasty weather," Dawn noted, saying they wound up in Florence, KY, where her mother bought candles for the 2013 Christmas program at the church. It was a tradition.
Dawn said the woman who killed her mother will never know what she has done. Nancy was Dawn's maid of honor at her wedding many years ago, her best friend, confidant and more. The hurt of the loss of her mother will be something Dawn says will stay with her forever.
Editor's note: More will be reported on the case as it unfolds. As soon as the three are brought back to the county they will face the charges as outlined in the above story with bonds and trial dates being addressed.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured at left, Dawn Hershman, seated, looks over family photos that include her mother, Nancy Hershman, who was shot to death in her own home in Milan on December 30. Also pictured is Sue Greer, left, and Rev. Harris Long, who have been there for the family during this difficult time. Dawn called the press conference on Monday at the First Baptist Church at Milan, because her mother was a long-time member there. Dawn, along with others, said they are grateful to police for finding the suspects and arresting them and putting many rumors to rest in the community.