Scene & Heard

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mystery of Identity of Ohio Man Who Hid Behind Fake Name for Years Solved, Mystery of Why Remains

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 1:58 PM

In a press conference this afternoon the U.S. Marshals announced they and others had, through genetic genealogy, solved the mystery of the true identity of Joseph Newton Chandler III, an Eastlake man who hid behind the social security number and name of a deceased 8-year-old boy from 1978 to the time he took his own life in 2002.

His real name is Robert Ivan Nichols, we know now. But authorities still don't know why he left his family and lived under an assumed identity.

At the time of his death, he left $82,000 in a bank account and no next of kin. What appeared at first to be a routine case quickly became more as investigators for probate court searching for a next of kin discovered Chandler's social security number tied to a Joseph Newton Chandler who was an 8-year-old Texas boy who died in a car accident in 1945.

With dead ends at every turn, Chandler's story became the subject of speculation — could he have been the Zodiac Killer? — and media coverage.

What officials knew was that he came to Cleveland around 1978 at the age of 41 after working out west, where he got his fake social security number in South Dakota. Coworkers at the companies where he worked as draftsman described him as an eccentric loner.

In 2014 the Eastlake police department as the U.S. Marshals to take over the case. They discovered that he had been hospitalized in 2000 and that a tissue sample had been taken during a medical procedure.

That DNA was sent to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner for testing against nationwide databases. There were no comparisons of value. It was then sent in 2016 to Drs. Colleen Fitzpatrick and Margaret Press of the DNA Doe Project and Identifiers International. They began working, much like officials who investigated the Golden State Killer, on searching public genealogy databases to find matches for Y-DNA that all male family members share. That gave them the first real lead: that his real last name was either Nichols or Nicholas.

What came next wasn't a short or easy process, though it was impressive, and you should watch them explain it in video from today's press conference.

Eventually, early this year, they were led to a man who they believed to be Chandler's son, who actually lived in Ohio. His DNA provided a definitive match. Philip Nichols told them he lost contact with his dad in 1965. His last interaction came in the form of an envelope postmarked from Napa, California, that contained nothing but a single penny.

Officials then learned that Robert Ivan Nichols was a Navy vet who fought in World War II and earned a purple star after suffering injuries from a Japanese bombing in 1945, around the time that he left his wife and three sons, one of who has passed away, in New Albany, Indiana, telling his spouse, "In due time, you'll know why.''

The Marshals tracked what they could about his whereabouts from there, finding that he resided in Dearborn, Michigan in 1964 and then settled in the San Francisco area in 1965. That same year he was reported missing by his parents and numerous attempts by authorities in California and Indiana to find him were unsuccessful.

That's it, for now. One mystery solved, one left to go.

"Typically, when people are hiding, when people are scared, it's typically fugitives on the run," U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot said today at the press conference. "There's a reason he went missing and assumed the name of a deceased 8-year-old boy in 1978 and hid for so many years. There's a reason he never again contacted his family. Robert Ivan Nichols never wanted to be found throughout his lifetime and into his death, and someone out there may hold the key as to why."

As for the possibility that Nichols was the Zodiac Killer, Elliot said he couldn't rule it out — Nichols was in California during the time of the killings — but that more work needs to be done on that front and that he's constantly talking to law enforcement across the country to determine if Nichols could be the suspect behind unsolved crimes.

The Marshals continue to work with various agencies to find more about Nichols' life between 1965 and 1978 and are asking anyone with information to get in touch at 216-522-4482.
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Ohio Rep. Nickie Antonio Named State's Most Influential LGBTQ+ Activist

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 1:28 PM

  • Courtesy of
In honor of Pride Month, the website compiled a list this week of influential LGBTQIA+ people in entertainment and politics born in each state across the country.

Lakewood's own Representative Nickie Antonio was selected as the most influential LGBTQ+ activist in the state of Ohio.

The methodology behind the list came from using a mix of’s Power 50 List, IMDB and a list of the first LGBTQ holders of political offices in the states, featuring 24 people in the political field, 22 in entertainment and 4 people more directly involved in activism.

Antonio is a long-time advocate of same-sex marriage rights, and not only is she the first openly gay representative to serve in both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate, she is also the first woman to occupy the state senate seat in District 23.

Recently, Antonio was selected as the Democratic nominee for her corresponding Senate seat, Ohio Senate District 23, which will be decided in the upcoming November election.

Antonio winning the Democratic nomination is extremely impactful, especially since the Cuyahoga County Democrats endorsed her competitor, Marty Sweeney on the day of the Women's March last January.

In 2016, Antonio was one of the key legislators who joined with local activists to reboot Cleveland Pride as "Pride in the CLE," which we were fortunate to enjoy during this year's pride celebration.

Rep. Antonio and her partner of more than 23 years, Jean Kosmac, were married in 2015 and currently reside in Lakewood where they raise their two daughters.
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Cleveland Candle Co. Opens Third Location with New Store in Ohio City

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 1:06 PM

  • Courtesy of Cleveland Candle Co.
The popular 'make-your-own-scent' shop Cleveland Candle Co. is expanding, bringing its candle-making experience and educational classes to Ohio City next week.

The new Ohio City location (2032 West 25th Street) is modeled after the company's existing shops in Mentor and Coventry, which includes a "candle bar” to create custom scents, with guidance from in-house candlemakers. In just an hour or two (depending on size) the custom candle is ready to go home with its creator.

Founded in 2014, the Cleveland Candle Co. started because the owners wanted to bring the art of candle-making back to their community.

“We decided to build a place where people can create their own signature scents, at an affordable cost, using only the best ingredients possible,” said company president David Gin in a press release.

Ninety percent of the oils used at Cleveland Candle Co. come directly from Ohio. Plus, the company uses made in the USA products in their candles, including their 100-percent custom soy wax blend, glass jars and containers.

To kick off the grand opening, Cleveland Candle Co. is giving away free candles to the first 25 people through the doors when they open on Friday, June 29,
at 11 a.m.

Throughout the celebration, customers can take advantage of door buster deals, participate in hourly raffles, and, from noon to 2 p.m., free face painting for the kids.
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Ohio Legislature Finally Passes Bill to Regulate Puppy Mills

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 11:39 AM

  • Scene Archives
We previously reported that Ohio was listed as having the second-most amount of puppy mills in the country, as part of the Humane Society's 'Horrible Hundred' list.

Thankfully, Ohio lawmakers gave their final approval on Wednesday on a bill that would strengthen state regulations on "high-volume breeders," minimize the use of puppy mills and allow Ohio to set the standard for other states moving forward.

House Bill 506 was introduced by Rep. Brian Hill (R-Columbus), and was cosponsored by representatives across both party lines. Last month, animal rights activists agreed to end their ballot measure campaign in exchange for a guarantee that new regulations would not be diluted in the future.

The House approved changes made by senators on Wednesday afternoon, and the bill has been sent to to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

HB 506 offers a multitude of changes to the current regulations of puppy mills including:
  • Lowering the threshold for regulation from nine litters and public sales of 60 puppies per year to entities that keep six breeding dogs and sell five dogs or puppies to pet stores, sell 40 puppies to the public or have on the premises 40 puppies under four months old per year.
  • Establishing basic standards of care such as feeding dogs twice per day, providing clean water and requiring dogs have exercise and social interaction every day.
  • Limiting the number of litters a female dog can produce in her lifetime to eight.
  • Banning the practice of stacking cages on top of each other and setting minimum cage sizes relative to the dog's length.
Around 35 states have some form of regulation in place for puppy mills, and it's estimated that the new Ohio regulations could put pressure on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve its national standards for breeders.

The current regulations in some states are incredibly depressing, with small sizes on captive enclosures and no limitation on how frequently a female dog can be bred, meaning she can be bred every single cycle until her body can no longer handle carrying the puppies to full term.

Under these stricter regulations, it is estimated that many puppy mills will close down for good, knowing they cannot maintain the conditions required by the law.

The new bill is backed by the Ohio Dog Breeders Association and Sportsmen's Alliance.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cleveland-Area Bahama Breeze Calls Police to Make Sure Black Sorority Members Pay Bill

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 7:41 PM

  • Courtesy of Darden Restaurants

Approximately 40 members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority were celebrating one of their sorority sister's impending move to California when the manager of Bahama Breeze in Orange Village allegedly racially profiled the group by calling the police this week, believing they weren't going to pay their bill.

Chante Spencer spoke to on Wednesday, stating trouble began after a sorority member, who had been waiting 25 minutes for her bill, said she was going to leave.

Although the woman ultimately waited and paid the bill, Spencer said that police were still called and the manager wanted officers to wait until each member of the party paid their bills as well.

In her interview with, Spencer said "Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling."

The news quickly spread across social media.
Bahama Breeze's twitter page is currently flooded with personal apologies to people complaining about the racial profiling.

Bahama Breeze is part of Florida-based Darden Restaurants, the parent umbrella that also owns Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse. Darden's senior director of communications, Rich Jeffers, offered a brief statement to stating, "We clearly fell short of delivering great service, and we've invited the guests back in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience."

According to the police report provided by Orange Village, the manager informed police that some members of the sorority threatened to leave without paying, and the manager requested the police stay until the bills were paid because members of the group caused a "disturbance" and used profanity toward the manager.

The police report does confirm that all of the bills were paid and the police were on premises for about one hour after arriving around 8:30 p.m. Police did not take any action against any of the sorority members, and the report states that one member of the party told police when they arrived that she would be staying to ensure all bills were paid.

Given that the group celebrating was predominately female and people of color, it's difficult not to view this incident as anything other than racial profiling.

A protest is underway in front of the restaurant this evening.

This isn't the first time Bahama Breeze has come under fire for their racial insensitivity. Back in 2009, it paid $1.26 million to settle complaints about alleged racial harassment of 37 black workers at this exact location.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit in 2008, alleging that managers at the restaurant had repeatedly harassed black employees by using racial slurs, mimicking black employees and denying them work breaks.

In addition to the $1.26 million payout, Bahama Breeze had to update its chain-wide discrimination and harassment policies and provide anti-discrimination and diversity training to its Beachwood employees and managers.

Looks like it's back to the drawing board.
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May the Lord Bless and Keep the Enterprising Souls Who Created Their Own Bus Stop at the Corner of Detroit and W. 25th

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 2:56 PM

  • Sam Allard / Scene
As construction on the $60 million Quarter project at the corner of Detroit Avenue and W. 25th Street continues apace, some enterprising public transit users have set up an impromptu bus stop.

Currently featuring two plastic chairs, one of which is backless, and a plastic milk crate, the makeshift transit stop rests just outside the Quarter's construction fence and is peopled by west-bound commuters on the RTA's #26 route throughout the day.

Snavely Group, the Quarter's development company, estimated that the project would be completed this month. That would be ambitious, but a Snavely rep, speaking by phone, was unaware of an updated timeline.

  • Sam Allard / Scene
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Cleveland Boasts the Least Economically and Racially Diverse Neighborhoods Among Major Metro Areas, According to New Study

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 1:29 PM

  • Photo by Joshua Rothhaas, Flickr Creative Commons
City Observatory on Tuesday released a study of America’s most diverse, mixed income neighborhoods identified by dissecting the inclusivity of race and ethnicity measured by the variety of household incomes in said neighborhoods.

Cleveland failed. Miserably.

Looking at the Racial and Ethnic Diversity Index (REDI), City Observatory divided the median neighborhood level of diversity by the metropolitan level of diversity to calculate how close a region comes to realizing its potential neighborhood diversity given its racial and ethnic composition.

For comparison, in San Antonio the metropolitan area has a REDI of 56.4 and the average resident lives in a neighborhood with a REDI of 53.1, which means the average neighborhood is about 94 percent as diverse (53.5/56.4 = .94) as the entire metropolitan area.

In contrast, Cleveland has a metropolitan REDI of 51.3, but the resident of a typical neighborhood lives in an area with a REDI of 26.0, meaning it is only 51 percent as diverse as the metropolitan area.

Although both Cleveland and San Antonio have similar levels of diversity overall, San Antonio is much more racially and ethnically integrated than Cleveland.

Our hyper-segregated city literally fared the worst of major metropolitan cities for the median diversity of income and race in neighborhoods matching the median demographics of the city as a whole.

Gaps between the metro-wide REDI and the REDI of a neighborhood directly reflects the degree of segregation within metropolitan areas. Coming in dead last shows that Cleveland's segregation goes further than just racial divides. The lived experiences of Clevelanders are completely segregated, and the diversity of our neighborhoods are not similar to the region en masse.

The Brookings Institute praised Cleveland on Monday for the potential to use Opportunity Zone incentives, recently announced by each state and approved by the federal government, that hope to inject equitable capital flow into low-income communities to catalyze business growth and wealth building. While there's hope on that front, there are also concerns for a race to the bottom, not the top.

"We are motivated to consider that goal in light of the fact that the Opportunity Zone program does not foreordain more equitable outcomes. Indeed, many observers—including at Brookings—have cautioned that the program could induce a 'race to the bottom,' where investments flow to the hottest markets most free from regulatory constraint, without attention to the long-term social equity implications."

Whatever optimism exists must deal with some undeniable facts:

74 percent of qualified Opportunity Zone residents in Cuyahoga County, which contains the city of Cleveland, are people of color (compared to 56 percent nationwide).

As of 2013, 36 percent of black households in Cleveland have zero net worth.

Income inequality between white and black residents in Cleveland has nearly doubled from a difference of roughly $12,000 per year in 2000 to $22,000 per year in 2016.
This April, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson signed off on a list of census tracts submitted to the state of Ohio for the Opportunity Zone economic development incentive that aims to stimulate private investment in "low-income, high-poverty" areas.

As we noted, some of the so-called "opportunity zones" are really just Cleveland's prime real estate sectors. These aren't underfunded neighborhoods in need of a facelift or lacking in development.

Included were the eastern portion of Ohio City, including Hingetown and the W. 25th Street corridor, and Tremont. On the east side, the selected tracts encompass University Circle and points north, the Opportunity Corridor and the so-called Health Tech Corridor.

In order for Clevelanders to be able to afford the rising housing costs, full employment must be achieved. Northeast Ohio is on its way, with 70 percent of working-age adults employed as of 2015. The difference between current employment and full employment (75 percent) translates to a need for roughly 123,000 more jobs in the region.

These jobs must also provide a livable wage. Only sixty-eight percent of Northeast Ohio families earned a living wage in 2016, and as we've already reported, eight of the ten most popular jobs in Ohio don't pay enough to cover rent for a modest two-bedroom apartment.

Racial unemployment disparities must also be eliminated, as unemployment rates for black Northeast Ohio residents in 2016 were nine percent higher than for whites. Similar gaps exist for Latinx residents, although as Two Tomorrows Fund states, limited data prevents a full analysis for Latinx residents or those of other races and ethnicities.

Most importantly though, Cleveland desperately needs to eliminate concentrations of poverty. According to Two Tomorrows Fund, the number of people living in areas of economic distress in Northeast Ohio increased by 31 percent from 2011 to 2015. One in 15 Northeast Ohioans now lives in an economically distressed neighborhood.
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