Strangely enough, in the Dayton, Ohio area, we haven’t heard a lot about the case of two Franklin men who recently beat an African American teen to death. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve talked about it on the news, but it has received disproportionately little coverage compared to many other issues. To make matters worse, when the local news has covered this story, they have tended to implicitly blame the victim – 16-year-old Dione Payne – who was raped, and beaten to death by Michael A. Geldrich, 36, and Michael J. Watson, 39.
The men have been arrested, arraigned and charged with aggravated robbery and murder. They are currently in the Warren County Jail.
In a sworn affidavit signed Monday by Franklin Detective Jeff Stewart we are told that “During the robbery Geldrich struck the male victim (later identified as Payne) with a table leg, fists, stomped the male with his boots and repeatedly struck the male victim’s head against the floor.”
The two rapists then dumped Payne’s nearly dead body off around 10:30 a.m. in the emergency room at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, not far from where they lived. The two seemed worried that they had “over done it” and knew that they would likely face an investigation if Payne were to die. They were right.
The hospital reported that upon arrival he was in critical condition and had “heavy damage to his head and was bleeding from his ears,” according to the police. Payne also had “heavy damage done to his chest from what appeared to be someone striking him repeatedly.”
The injuries were too severe for the small Middletown hospital to handle, so he was promptly transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. Upon further examination, the MVH workers discovered that Payne had been sexually assaulted. Hospital personnel there contacted Middletown police and stated the teen appeared to have been sexually assaulted, according to the police report.
Payne’s mother Tamiko Payne told a family friend Donna Parson that the family considers this a premeditated act, and thus want both men to receive the death penalty.
“This is what they deserve. Death. This was a 16-year-old boy (beaten) by two full-grown men,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Local Dayton Daily News seemed most interested in emphasizing two things throughout their reporting, in the article, ‘Dayton teen beaten to death had troubled past’:
1. That the 16-year-old rape and murder victim had a “troubled past”, bringing up narcotics possession and sales on the youth’s juvenile record. They emphasize that he was just released October 22 from the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services. They even note that he was arrested for littering recently. Why such a hyper-fixation on his juvenile record? Isn’t this a case, a story and a tragedy about assault, rape and murder? Why should the local media focus so much on what the victim has done in his past?
2. That Franklin Police Chief Russ Whitman emphasized that “there is no evidence whatsoever” the rape, beating and murder of Payne was racially motivated. Perhaps they suspect that this was the first time the two men had ever purchased drugs, or maybe that they had raped, beaten and murdered other people they had bought drugs for.
According to Dayton Police reports, that incident involved him firing five shots at his mother’s boyfriend after an argument at the family’s home in October of 2012. Payne was arrested on a warrant several weeks later when he was stopped for littering in the DeSoto Bass neighborhood several blocks from his house. He was transported to juvenile detention where a small amount of cocaine was found in his pocket, according to the report.
The police offer no evidence nor even propose a motive for this attack and murder. Why? And more importantly, why is the local Dayton media trying to highlight statements that would exonerate the rapists and murderers from hate crime charges, while simultaneously focusing on the low points in the youth’s life that in no way justify nor caused his physical and sexual assault, as well as murder?
Throughout the Dayton area, the African American community is saying they are not surprised. Dayton has a long history of slanted, anti-African American reporting such as this, where the victim is first and foremost blamed for whatever happens to them.
“All evidence points to the crime being drug-related,” Dayton Daily News emphasized Chief Whitman’s statement. “Any suggestion that this is a ‘hate crime’ or racially motivated is not based upon actual evidence.”
Strange, since so incidences like this are relatively unheard of in the area, regardless of whether drug sales are involved or not. Why are the police so quick to dismiss a motive of racism, and perhaps just as importantly, why is the local media asleep at the wheel?