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A day of killing

Published: Thu, November 17, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Christine Keeling

and Ashley Luthern



The city recorded three homicides Wednesday, bringing the total to 22 this year — three more than this time last year.

Stephen Cortner, 30, and Shanell Jackson, 23, were found shot to death just before 2 a.m. in an upstairs bedroom of a home at 2907 Mahoning Ave. on the West Side.

About 10:30 a.m., a black man about 25 years old was found face-down in a lot on the corner of Knapp Street and Gerwig Avenue on the East Side with gunshot wounds.

Police have identified the man, but would not release his name Wednesday afternoon because his family had yet to be notified. Detectives estimate the man died between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, when a passerby called police and reported a body in a field.

Detectives said that man’s killing does not appear to have any link to the killings of Cortner and Jackson.

Jackson was found on a bed with a pillow partially covering her face and an apparent gunshot wound to the left side of her head, police said. Her 2-month-old daughter was next to her body and unharmed.

Cortner was lying on the floor at the base of the bed in a large pool of blood with an apparent gunshot wound to his upper body, officers said.

Dr. Joseph S. Ohr, Mahoning County deputy coroner, was at the scene and will conduct an autopsy today. Dr. Ohr said Cortner and Jackson were shot multiple times.

A man who lives at the Mahoning Avenue home and called police when he saw Cortner and Jackson was questioned by authorities. He is not considered a suspect, Police Chief Rod Foley said.

Cortner pleaded guilty to possession of drugs last March and in March 2008.

Jackson pleaded guilty to theft in June 2010.

In September, police were called to the address for a report of people with guns in an argument.

Foley said the Wednesday incident didn’t look like a burglary and there were no signs of forced entry.

“This home was targeted for a reason,” he said.

Although it appears this was not a random act, police have been trying to ratchet up presence on the West Side because they are seeing more vacant homes and drug activity, Foley said. Those efforts need to be followed by code enforcement, he added.

Wednesday was the first time in recent years that three homicides were reported on the same day. In January 2008, six people — including four children — were killed in a fatal arson on the city’s East Side. In January 2007, three men and a woman were found shot to death in a South Side home.

Wednesday was the second time within two months that an infant has been found at a homicide scene. On Oct. 8, 20-year-old Tequon Sharpe was found shot to death in his South Side residence. Police said his 10-month-old daughter, of whom he had custody, was lying on his body but was not hurt.

In the latest case, Jackson’s infant daughter was found lying face down and partially covered in a blanket next to Jackson, according to reports. The child is in the custody of Mahoning County Children Services, police said.

“She is still in our care, and we are pursuing possible placement with family,” said Denise Stewart, the agency’s executive director, Wednesday afternoon. “It’s such a tragedy, and we just want work with the family.”

Jackson’s grandmother, Peggy Jackson, said two older siblings have been in her care. The family, she said, is “coping.”

Experts say research shows that children at that young age usually don’t remember events firsthand.

Christopher A. Wall, Mayo Clinic assistant professor of psychiatry, said children under 1-year-old are pre-verbal and don’t remember things in the same manner as adults.

“...They remember through touch or sensation but not necessarily on a language basis,” Wall said. “... In one way, they may be able to learn of it from others, but they will not in and of themselves be able to recall the event, in my view or based on theory, from a firsthand account.”

Sometimes children who lose a caregiver at this age could develop reactive attachment disorder. In such cases, children need a strong connection with someone after the event.

“The most important thing at this early stage is attachment. ... If you lose a mom at that stage and don’t have a good nurturing, warm provider that can keep you fed and cuddle up close, that’s the biggest risk for these kids under the age of 1,” Wall said.

“A little kid left crying hour after hour, along with the health concerns, there would be this tragedy with emotional development: ‘I needed someone, and no one was there.’”

That can create an insecure view of the world, Wall said.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Nice mugshots! These two Youngstown Hoodrats obviously had a long criminal history. Those that live by the gun, die by the gun.

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2foxyglo(372 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


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3steelwagon(284 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm betting these killings are drug related.
Live a violent drug addicted life and this is the usual outcome.
I'm sure the victims knew the killer(s) and why they were being targeted.
They either owed a drug debt or they stole the dealers stash.

Black on black violence has become the norm in Y-Town.
Increase in welfare benefits,section 8 housing,special programs,set asides ect.. haven't worked and are not the answer.

Quite honestly I don't know what the solution is but until the black community comes together and begins to value life and family expect to see more of the same.
Grandparents raising children and more unfortunate children never knowing their parents.

A sad tragic waste of life and continued drain on society.

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4author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the people involved in some of these crimes do not think that the criminal justice system can or will catch the bad guys/gals and they are taking the law into their own hands?

Vigilante justice might be the reasons for some of these murders if you think about how some of the cases in the past have been botched up or not solved.

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5Attis(1134 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The whole city of Youngstown, especially the Southside, has been redlined by our institutions for decades as a killing field. As long as the killing are Black on Black and stay within the ghetto, the institutions will do nothing more than the minimum. But when a bullet goes through the White House, heaven and earth are moved to find the culprit. Once our institutions define and treat the poverty-stricken residents of Y-town the same as the residents of the White House, nothing much will change.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Nothing is being done to generate jobs in The Valley on a massive scale to employ the unemployed masses . Much more can be done to shut down the drug activity .

Street justice after a killing is swift . There are no appeals nor any worries about overcrowding .

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7Handala(38 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Executions can only be a deterrent to those that wittiness them! So I guess you think giving murderers three hots a cot along with health care to set on their rear end for life is a better idea!? Hmm?

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8kensgirl(1063 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The reason why some people think executions don't work is because they don't happen! People know they can sit on death row for 30 years while appealing their sentence. There's no such thing as swift justice. Ask Miriam Fife.

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9Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


Violent government , violent society"

So, let these murderers sit in prison for a bit and then get out and kill more until their six feet under. What if they kill some one you love? Would the death penatly be enough?
Violent society? Seems like all the homicides this year are black on black. That seems the violent society, not the every day innocent people.

What happened about the black community coming together and such after the YSU area killing. If they want to kill each other over drugs and what not then go right ahead. It's a shame they bring babies into the world on top of it. Won't stop until they become productive members of society instead of the life style they lead on a day to day basis. It's their choice no one else.

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10fcb(463 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This is weird . I just tried to write a comment but realized that throughout the past years I've written so many comments about killings in Youngstown that I can't think of any thing new to say. Oh well,just another day in Youngstown.

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"The mayor barely addressed the recent violence"

Chuck has nothing to offer . He is challenged as to which way to go at a four way intersection .

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12boxerlover(133 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

There are jobs out there that no one wants. And the ones that do want the jobs expect top pay at entry level instead of WORKING to get to the top. Drug trade pays more. More risk but more reward. They all want to start at the top. How about job creation? Well, we seem to be letting these lowlifes back on the street because of overcrowding. Build (construction jobs) more prisons (police jobs, janitorial jobs, cooks, nurses, etc). BUT the only state of the art item in this prison--alarms, locks and such. No country club deal. Prisoners work for their meals on a credit system. The more trouble you get in the less credit you get, the less "extras" you receive, like full meals, recreation access. Let's start treating them like they are PRISONERS.

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13VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Our local governments are helpless with this drug violence.

This past week, I saw two seperate traffic stops where the police had drug sniffing dogs crawling over the vehicles, while the occupants were standing near the cruisers. Other patrol cars were parked alongside and the cops had their hands on their holstered guns.

Our cities are becoming crime infested pitholes, while we can't even police our borders and Mexico has lost control of their country...all because of drugs.

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14georgejeanie(1540 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I am Mel, seems like he actually cares about his city and neighborhood I hope he can keep . his head up and try to change the culture that Youngstown has evolved into It has taken two generations to put the black community into its present state, ever since LBJ and his Great Society it has been all down hill for the black community and family.

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15onthewest(4 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm sorry but more blame needs to be placed on the police department in this city. I've lived many places including much bigger cities like Atlanta.

No one in Youngstown fears the police. They view them as a joke. They know that could never respond to a crime in time to actually stop anything. I've lived on the west side for two years and had to call the cops twice. The first time a random drunk guy staggered into my driveway in the middle of the night and was urinating and breaking bottles. I called the cops because my 2 year old kept getting woken up. The cops arrived and made more noise chatting with the guy about how they both grew up on Brier Hill. They then let the guy call a friend to pick him up while they continued to chat. You've got to be kidding me?!

The second time was just several weeks ago when a drunk driver blasted a fire hydrant in front of our house. I approached the driver when he said he was calling a friend to come pick him up. It took the cops over 30 minutes to arrive. I even called them back and said "this guy is going to leave if you don't hurry up". They treated it like it was the most minor offense. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed before.

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16borylie(951 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Brown and kensgirl,
The Raymond Fife murder is the worst thing that ever happened around here. If we can't forget about that tragedy,can you imagine what his mom goes through everyday?
I've made this point on here many,many times. You can't keep on having babies without the resources,maturity,education and in a one parent home,and expect anything less than what you're seeing. And it's getting worse.
I've complained to the children services and anybody else who will listen to me,but it seems that this government wants more and more people dependent on government.
If any of you really want to help,write to the Vindy,call all the churches and let your politicians know that having grandma raising their babies is no longer acceptable. And one would be bad enough,but these young girls and boys are having multiples without any conscience.

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17redvert(2240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I guess the only consolation for the grandmother if there is any is that she will only have to raise 3 grandkids....unless of course if Miss Jackson had any sisters. In that case all bets may be off!!!

As fcb said, it is the same old story, just change the names.

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18kensgirl(1063 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

On the west - do you actually think the Y.P.D. will run to a random drunk call when there's murders happening every night? They're so backed up with calls now it's lucky they responded at all. By no means do I support drunk driving either but geez it's not the cops fault that these thugs have ruined the city. It's a cancer and it has metasticized so widely that the Natuonal Guard wouldn't be able to handle it. More dads need to step up to the plate and more moms need to get off crack. And it's just not the blacks. There are just as many trashy whites, let's be honest. And BTW if anyone is talking about death row and how inhumane lethal injection is then just shoot them by firing squad. Bullets are cheap. Just ask any thug. Let's get with it people. No more coddling. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Send a message.

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19onthewest(4 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Kensgirl - Umm yea I do expect them to come to a random drunk call. Is that too much to ask from my local police department? I'd also like to see the data on how many of these murders they actually solve.

I couldn't agree with you more about the moms and dads, but that is not going to happen. That is a sociological issue. But having more police on duty is easily possible.

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20lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

obviously, we need more marches and candlelight vigils !!

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21jgm820(133 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's time to bring back orphanages.

There is no reason to have people who have no business walking the streets unattended raising children who were born as innocent bystanders into this foolishness.

If you have a child and have no means to PERSONALLY support it (either by a 2 parent home, or a job), that child goes into an orphanage where it can escape the generational violent crime inbreeding that is occurring.

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22Fred(131 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

You're on your own in Youngstown and have to stand up for yourself.

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23kensgirl(1063 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

You can have a cop on every corner and if someone wants to kill someone they're going to do it by hell or high water. It's how the criminal mind works. Remember, their minds aren't like ours. They're all doped up and they're irrational. Ever try to subdue someone high on drugs? I have. Sometimes even a taser won't stop them as we've seen in the past. As my father used to say "Bring back the chain gang". Herd them in and tie 'em up. Give them a pick ax and have at it.

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24One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


You are such a coward.

"If you don't like the way this place is, take yourself to higher places!"

Run away to the safety of the burbs. Run-away - Run away. . . What are you going to do when the same crime you are advising people to run away from shows up on your doorstep in Canfield. . . run further out? Pretty soon you'll be living in East Liverpool. . . oh wait - there's tons of crime there too. Then you'll have to revise your red-zone.

If people had drawn the line in the sand 25 or 30 years ago in Youngstown, we wouldn't be having these problems now. But no - the answer is run away to the burbs and draw circles around maps with warning signs in them.

How about growing a set and help solve the problem rather than running from it.

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25DMB(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Why did the Vindy have to use a mug shot picture? If you guys can go and talk to the family I am pretty sure that they would give you a photo to put in your newspaper. Two lives were taken in front of a baby, who cares what they did before... All that matters is that they were murdered and that is a tragedy.

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26NilesOhio(997 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The really sad thing is that this might be the only chance for the baby to have an opportunity for a better life. With role models like this, this little girl had no chance.

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27onthewest(4 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

None of you, including me have any idea what happened. What are you the judge and the jury? So once someone makes a mistake in life they are permanently labeled in our city? No wonder those who are down and out can never get back up.

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28Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I take it that the two victims at 2907 Mahoning Ave. weren't armed as I see no mention of it .

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29Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I noticed a lot of EastSide Real Estate ready for urban homesteading . . .. Do you have these listed? . . ..

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30Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"Your town is down for the count and it doesn't look good."

And it's always greener on the other side, huh? Crime, Violence, Drugs, etc are Everywhere, there is no paradise. You can run all you want but you can never escape it.
So keep dreaming in your mind that your exempt from it, if it makes you feel better. Because in reality it's all the same...everywhere in the good ole USofA...

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31Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


Why did the Vindy have to use a mug shot picture?

Why not? Why try to sugarcoat the lifestyle they lead. It's called Reality.

"Two lives were taken in front of a baby, who cares what they did before... All that matters is that they were murdered and that is a tragedy."

And what they did before is the reason they were murdered and they are to blame for putting that INNOCENT baby in that situation. No one else! A tragedy? No, a tragedy is a INNOCENT person murdered. This was over drugs! Pure and simple.


While they aren't saying much about the murders, police believe one of two people shot to death on the city's West Side was targeted in a possible drug-related shooting. "These individuals, or at least one of the two individuals, that was murdered was targeted, and probably the second one was shot because they were a potential witness," said police Chief Rod Foley. "We think that was more of a set-up style murder, it wasn't a random home invasion. For some reason this individual was targeted."


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32you_really_dnt_knw(2 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I read the different comments that people leave on vindy every now and then,mostly then. I have never cared to comment myself. But today I just had too. It's always the same people on here leaving some of the most ignorant comments. I didn't know any of the people who lost their lives in these last few days but none of them should have lost their life like they did. I don't care what they have done in their lives,its just not right! What gives anyone the right to determine when its another persons time to go. And you people act like this stuff only happens in the hood. What about the white boy who killed his friend,but told the 911 operator that the boy shot himself. Or what about the guy who got murdered in Howland. Did they deserve to die. What do you rude a s s people have to say about them? I can't hear you... The point is,no matter what any of them has done they all have someone who loves them,someone who will miss them!

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33lumper(301 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

they probably didn't get enough hugs growing up.

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34dd72(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I worked with Shanell Jackson and although I did not know her for very long, she was a really nice girl. She was a good worker at her job and was an intelligent person. She frequently showed pictures of her new baby girl like any proud mother would. Whatever the circumstances where that led to this tragedy are unknown to the rest of us. It is unfair to stereotype a person who may have been in the wrong place or made a mistake. No one deserves to die in that manner. RIP Shanell, your co-workers will miss you.

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35Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The victims have no grasp of the dangers that they face . . .. Those who they hang out with many times end up taking their lives . They never expect what is in store for them .

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36Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"What gives anyone the right to determine when its another persons time to go. "

The animals that did this. Get mad at them. And over what? Drugs? Are you not sick of it?

"And you people act like this stuff only happens in the hood."

Whether you agree or not, 99.9999% of the time it does and you can't deny that or fear for your life in the "hood.

"What do you rude a s s people have to say about them? I can't hear you..."

Why do you bring race into it? If you want, of all the homicides in the city this year, how many were blacks? I'm waiting......

People need to quit being so defensive when it comes to this violence. There is no sugarcoating or ignoring it. It won't go away. Be proactive against the violence instead of getting mad at the wrong people. Comprehend?


"It is unfair to stereotype a person who may have been in the wrong place or made a mistake."

Who is stereotyping anyone? It is what it is, no more no less. You can't be that naive.

"No one deserves to die in that manner."

No, no one does. Who said someone deserves to die in that manner? What happens when you play with fire??

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37One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


I made no mistake by staying, nor am I jealous of your property value.

I bought my house for about 35K, improved and have enjoyed it over the years and it just appraised for around 70. True - it's not appreciating in value as much as it might, but I promise you this - it's not loosing nearly the value that your McMansion in the burbs is.

In addition, the 2.75% income tax I'm paying is not even remotely close to the obscene amounts of property taxes I'm certain you are paying. Hopefully you have kids in school, because that's the only reason that anyone in their right mind would pay the inflated prices and taxes for those places in the burbs.

Fact is that staying and addressing a problem is better than continually running away from it no matter how many hand-scrawled maps and home-made YouTube videos you post to bolster your chicken-sh1t opinion. If you're not going to help, at least have the common decency to not try to drag down everyone else who is.

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38briant(57 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

WOW...Muders up from last year...for a short time I thought things were getting a "Little" better???

Guess Not.

Loss of life...no respect for life...

Very sad.

I agree with an earlier comment: "Stan should run for Mayor or a Council seat"...He is usually, like it or not, pretty much on target.

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39Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

YoungstownBornRaised Is still shell shocked from being slapped silly by a hood mama .

I want Obama's job . . ..

The powers in Youngstown are content with raising the taxes to get more money and the people love them for it . Few jobs are being generated in which to oppress the masses with employment .

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40onthewest(4 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

9529 Comments = GET A LIFE

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41One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"You're "70K" house isn't worth $25K!"
Always good to get an "expert opinion" from someone who doesn't live or spend any time here, other than to skip in, take some stock damning photos for his sky-is falling blog and skip out.

Apparently banks who have been red-lining this area for years disagree with you. That''s what they appraised it at just before they refinanced it for me. Not the county auditor, not some real-estate speculator, not some suburb crazed know nothing like you. . . a real bank loaning real money against the "real" value of a property right now - not at some hypothetical point in the future

I don't care nor have to know how much you make. Your property tax is based on the inflated perceived value of your McMansion, which is why you are paying a ton more than my 2.75% income tax.

Face it Carl, you're a surburbanite snob with delusions of grandeur propped up by the fact that you can take pictures of and blog about some vacant property in a city you clearly know nothing about.

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42KarieeDee(7 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This situation is truly sad but yes, I ‘ve heard it all before….I believe a huge issue we have here in the city is “Education” and not in the formal sense. Women sometimes believe they have the power to “change” an individual, men in particular, and this is where the miseducation/misconception begins. Or even worse, (both men and women in this situation) begin to believe that something like this will never happen to them. And dare I ask “what makes you so special?” Young black women and men alike need to hold themselves too much higher standards and dare to rise above what has become the “norm” for our city. I feel women engage in these relationships and shroud their conscience with ignorant thoughts, “I can change him”, “He means well”, “He’s a good man at heart” when the truth of the matter is, is if that man doesn’t value his own life to want more for himself, why would he do anything different for you? I’ve never done the statistical research (which I will now do), but I am certain the facts are startling! Our young people need to fully realize the risks they are taking with their lives! These are lessons that now have to be taught at home. Times are changing. Just as with the onset of the Internet (even though, on a much larger scale) and precautions taken against child pornography, cyber-sex, sexting, and Internet predators, parenting in the city of Youngstown must evolve. Our children need to be exposed to more positive experiences. I am truly saddened by these lives lost. My prayers are with the families and my fellow residents of the City of Youngstown, because “we” all are NOT crack-addicted, hoodrats or thugs trying to make a living off welfare, LOL (I'm sorry, I had to add that....)

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43Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

onthewest :

"9529 Comments = GET A LIFE"

What would you suggest ?

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44One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


"When was the last time that ANY house of 2000 ft.^2 or more built within city limits? Is there anyone stupid enough to build a new-construction "McMansion" in Youngstown?"

I think a better question is why would anyone want to build a cardboard, plastic and Corrian McMansion for big bucks when you can buy the real thing for half of what it costs to build a brand-new fake one.

Jealous? Not hardly. I live in a 106 year old 4000 sq ft house that will still be standing long after those cardboard wanna-be's have crumbled to dust. My 10 inch baseboards and crown moldings are real quarter-sawn oak. My leaded glass windows were hand-made by real craftsmen. My hardwood floors are actual hardwood (not Chinese made pressboard with oak veneer on top of it).

Seems to me that you're the jealous one Carl. There's a reason people make fun of the suburban life and you seem to embody most all of those reasons.

PS - Burglarized 3 times in 3 days? I've lived here 24 years and have been burglarized exactly 0 times. You gotta be doing something seriously wrong to have them hit you up 3 times in a row.

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45Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

New eco friendly lead free housing coming soon . . ..


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46One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

If the ones who leave are people like you Carl, we can only hope. . .

2112 = Bigger Joke.

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