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Corrected version: Sheriff's contest heating up

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In wide-ranging interviews, Sheriff Ron Peckman and his Republican challenger Jason Mosher detailed their plans for the next four years and reviewed details of the 2009 murder case that has become a focal point of their race.

Peckman, sheriff since beating incumbent Mickey Mason in their 2000 Democratic primary and a Vernon County deputy since 1992, touts his experience and success in operating the jail at a substantial profit, among other accomplishments.

Mosher, police chief at Jasper for two years, says he has more managerial experience than Peckman had upon becoming sheriff and would beef up patrols.

Absentee voting started Tuesday for the Nov. 6 general election.

Citing rumors that Peckman had an affair with murder victim Belinda Irwin Beisly, Mosher said even if the allegation is unfounded, Peckman should not be leading the investigation. "The biggest issue is the rumor that went around about the sheriff's involvement with Belinda," Mosher said Thursday.

"I'm completely neutral. I have no idea if it's true or not. But I do know that when a rumor like that gets spread this much, he should have stepped aside and let some other agency do it. If there's a conflict of interest or even the perception of one, it's fairly common to have an outside agency come in.

"If Ron really did it, he should step down. I definitely assume Belinda's husband (Bob True Beisly II) would be a suspect because of his relationship with the victim.

"They had been going through a divorce that lasted three years."

Peckman said Friday that he wasn't romantically involved with the 47-year-old woman who was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on July 15, 2009, in her home north of Deerfield. "It's a rumor," he said.

"We were friends. Belinda was a friend of just about everybody here (in the sheriff's office) because we had dealt with the problems out there. We see a lot of domestic cases and they are not good. Nobody likes to see the worst, but the worst can happen.

"There have been a lot of wild stories," said Peckman, 54. "I really want to say something, but I can't because I don't want to mess up the case when it goes to trial. The investigation is further along than people realize."

Saying that County Prosecutor Lynn Ewing and he will make an announcement "soon," Peckman said, "When it comes to a head, then everybody will see.

"It kind of hurts that Mr. Mosher is throwing up rumors. It has been tough on my whole family because they've been thrown into it, too."

Asked if his wife Shirley is standing by him, Peckman emphatically said, "Of course."

The Peckmans have three children, Courtney Hanson of Richards, Meagan of Nevada and Ty of Columbia, and a grandchild. "Through all the tough times, I still want to be sheriff," he said.

"I have a lot of good things to do and I want this case to come to a close. I've been in contact with the Irwin family quite a bit. We've had ups and downs and a lot of information that didn't pan out, but not a day goes by that we're not doing something about it."

Peckman said his management of the new law enforcement center, opened in June 2009, saw the jail make a $300,000 profit for the county last year and that it is $250,000 in the black this fiscal year.

He supervises 10 deputies and 12 jailers, two of whom were arrested Sept. 17 and charged with taking $2,500 in bribes from an inmate's girlfriend to bring marijuana into the jail for the inmate, who himself informed the sheriff on Sept. 12 of the jailers' complicity. "It's just something that happened," said Peckman.

"I wasn't trying to hide anything. I'm sorry it happened and it's my responsibility."

Emphasizing he has more experience than Mosher, Peckman said his budget went from $1.5 million last year to its current $1.4 million. "There is so much that goes on and you've got to work within the budget," he said.

"We've been through numerous audits by the state, private companies and the Missouri Department of Public Safety and there has never been any money missing."

Along with running DARE, Neighborhood Watch and identity theft prevention programs, Peckman said Chief Deputy Shayne Simmons and he have written a number of state and federal grant applications that brought in "several million dollars.

"With our chaplains' program, we use ministers around the county to go with us on death notifications, bad traffic accidents and house fires and when inmates get bad news like the death of a family member," he said.

"Our average inmate population is 82 a day, but we had 106 in late August and early September. When we have empty beds, we house prisoners for Dade, Cedar, St. Clair and Bates counties."

Peckman, who lives at Richards, graduated from Nevada High School in 1976 and served four years in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic and on searches and rescues and special assignments for the Naval Investigative Service.

He was studying agriculture at Fort Scott Community College when he dropped out to support his growing family and he eventually entered law enforcement. "I have taken classes at Missouri Southern State University on crime scenes, deaths, homicides, arson and drugs," he said.

"I'm not saying Mr. Mosher couldn't do the job because I don't know him, but this is what I have done and have been able to do."

Asked why he doesn't have a deputy on duty at all times, Peckman said, "I am only allocated the deputies the county commission lets me have. They give me so much money and that's it. We always have a deputy for peak times and I work the road often, especially at night and on weekends."

Mosher said his confidence was boosted by his Sept. 21 chili dinner, attended by 200 people at the community center, and his reception at Sheldon after he had proved relatively weak there in his Aug. 7 primary win over seven rivals. "Most of what I'm hearing is that people think it's time for a change," said Mosher, 31, whose family moved here from Walker when he was 8 years old.

"I hear a lot about the Beisly murder. They might have information they don't want to release, but I would look into it."

Mosher, the son of Terry and Karen Mosher of Nevada, attended Calvary Christian School until the fourth grade and then was homeschooled. He has three sisters and four brothers and he and his wife April have three girls and four boys. They live at Milo.

Mosher began his career as a campus policeman at MSSU, where he will earn a bachelor's degree in December. He had been with the Jasper Police Department for a year when he was promoted to chief.

Jasper Mayor Dusty Nelson sent the Daily Mail a letter Friday in which he said, "I write this with some reluctance due to the fact that I do not want to lose this man.

"However, he has earned the career advancement he seeks with his candidacy for sheriff of Vernon County. Jason has been our chief for nearly two years and in that time, his organizational skills have transformed our department from mediocre into one that is efficient, effective and well regarded.

"He has provided more enforcement with a limited budget. His leadership and investigative skills resulted in the resolution of many of the criminal cases that occurred during his tenure. His knowledge of the law exceeds that of others who have held this office."

Vowing heightened professionalism, Mosher said, "An officer is only going to be as productive and professional as his training allows.

"Experience is one of the best things you can have, but it's only valuable if it's good experience. I supervise seven officers and four reserves in Jasper and when I took over, we had old vehicles that didn't run well and we didn't have a set uniform.

"When somebody sees an officer approaching and they haven't had a chance to talk to him, the only perception they have is what they can see. Some nights, the sheriff's office doesn't have a deputy on duty, but it needs at least one 24/7."

Mosher said Jasper, population 931 about 38 miles south of Nevada, "is a good community, but we're in the middle of Carthage and Lamar and get quite a bit of drug activity, especially with meth.

"A lot of people run to a small town to evade law enforcement," he said. "There is meth manufacturing with shake and bake labs in empty houses. We keep after them over and over again and have taken down quite a few who are in prison now.

"One of my officers was performing a DWI stop a few months ago and the guy tried to run over him and hurt his foot. There was a pursuit and we caught him at 3 a.m. in a field near Jasper after he crossed into Barton County.

"It could be a slow night or it could be the most dangerous night you've ever had."

Due to a misunderstanding, this story initially made references to Bob True Beisly III; Belinda Beisly was married to Bob True Beisly II.

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I would like more than 2 years experiance at Jasper for someone to run a 1.5 million dollar budget only my opinion.

-- Posted by Denis Cannon on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 6:01 AM

It's time for a change. Peckman needs to go.

-- Posted by J Lawrence on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 7:15 AM

I AGREE it is time for a change!!!! There is to much unsolved business out there in our sheriffs Depts. Not only the Beisly case, But what about the young man that was ran over and killed outside of town here. I know allot of Belinda's family and they all say, that she was very open with her and Peckman's affair. And rumor has been, that getting close to election you watch and see Peckman will be trying to convict someone with this case. I think it is kinda suspicious about this drug bust at the Vernon County Jail, and the people involved, and Belinda's case....think about it and we will see what becomes of this...

-- Posted by classylady on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 8:15 AM

It may be time for change but I haven't seen anyone with the correct qualifications and experience in my eyes to get my vote other than the current sheriff. Also starting rumors in small town politics isn't good either unless you know the truth. looks kind of bad, kind of like the big politicians advertisements they play on tv all day long. I don't want to hear the rumors I want to hear your plans to help the citizens and community.

-- Posted by Denis Cannon on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 12:25 PM

I don't know how Sheriff Peckman came up with the profit figure he shows in this article but, someone must be using some very creative accounting practices. I'm sure there are a great number of people, besides myself, who would like to see how this figure was arrived at. Even if you use the figures that have appeared in the paper for the last two years,the jail has shown a hefty lose. If there is this much money to be made, I'm sure every county in the state would have built their own jail by now.

-- Posted by resident65 on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 2:00 PM

He did not "start" the rumors, they were already there. And if you want to hear how he is going to protect the people in the county then read the article again. Mosher was referring to a rumor between the Sheriff and a murder that is still unsolved and has made our county look very bad. Mosher is talking about an unsolved murder for four years. I think that IS talking about the people of the county. And rumor or not, it makes the department look bad. This is not a "common" rumor. Mosher has my vote.

-- Posted by matchstick on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 9:44 PM

Rumors??? Rumor has it Mr. Mosher filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009. If you can't manage your own money - how are you going to run a budget the size of the Sheriff's Office. Rumor also has it he hasn't paid his property taxes for two years.

-- Posted by onemoremom on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 10:05 PM

He doesn't have my vote matchstick you vote how ever you like, but I don't like dirty politics and in my opinion that's what this is starting and I have the right to my opinion in this country.

-- Posted by Denis Cannon on Sat, Sep 29, 2012, at 11:11 PM

Fact: you must have your property taxes up to date in order for the court house to let you run for any postion.

-- Posted by tom1234 on Sun, Sep 30, 2012, at 12:20 PM

Hmmm I agree, totally dirty politics here. Let me see i do remember hearing that the chairman of the republican party was totally campaigning for Mr. Mosher. Pretty unethical i believe or just really sad. Also heard that Mr. Mosher once upon a time had rental houses and yet they were taken from him due to not taking care of them. So, once again why would you all want someone running the county that can't take care of their own homes for their tenants. To me neither are fit running for sheriff...i sure do feel bad for Vernon Countians, it's a shame that they have these two to choose from. Glad i got out of Vernon County when i did. If he filed bankruptcy kinda agree with the person that made the comment on how can he run a multi million office. hmmm gonna get pretty interesting. If the tax thing is true wonder who would be covering it up so Mosher could run. Like i sd all DIRTY POLITICS. No one cares anymore about who can actually do something for someone, only in it for the money, not for the citizens of vernon county. Just watch and see what happens. Rumors are Rumors yes but they get started some how just so people can play dirty, not confident enough in themselves to win an election without all the rumors. Sad Sad...

-- Posted by georgeglass on Sun, Sep 30, 2012, at 6:56 PM

What about justice? James Besaw was murdered on May 12, 2012 and the Sheriff's department has totally ignored the case refusing to even have the professional courtesy of talking to the bereaved parents. If this were your child would you vote for that brand of justice?

Instead his deputies are the ones spreading rumors and lies regarding James' death. A deputy told his grandmother he was a drug addict and "prolly ****** them wrong people off" Which is slanderous at best and mean hearted to an old lady at the least.

People in this county need to wake up and do something before it is too late!

-- Posted by Lucky2live on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 7:16 AM

Keep this in mind that Sheriff Peckman is a supporter of President Obama. That alone should be enough to not vote for him.

Also when he was elected last time he promised 24 road patrol coverage, just another one of his lies it appears.

You would think with $250,000 in the black he could convince the commissioners to let him hire some deputies? I'm amazed he can't run his own department without the commissioners holding his hand.

Now take a look at some of his staff. You have the two who worked in the jail, that took a money to get drugs in to the jail. Going back to the $250,000 in the black, you would think he would maybe pay a little better wages? He has an investigator who's ex wife went to prison for theft while still married to him while as he worked for Peckman. Another investigator that works for Peckamn had court orders of protection against him by his wife while working for Peckman and still kept his job. It's investigators like this that are trying to solve murder cases?

What's really bad you call in or walk into the lobby you are treated with disrespect and with total disregard of your needs.

I expect the sheriff will pull out some big suspect name at the last second that he's been holding onto on the murder case, right before the election.

What do we really expect? We have a bunch of hateful females working in the court clerks office, road and bridge crew that does nothing, county commission that puts off everything they can back onto the out of date township governments, accessors office that nickel and dimes the citizens till their broke and the property is sold by county.

Then we have a local highway patrol that is a do nothing, but come after the damage is done and take report and look pretty.

Why should we expect too much? I guess we have to live by the law of man and take care of ourselves.

-- Posted by Bodybag on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 9:22 AM

Surely you know that even though the newspaper put something in " " does not mean that was what was actually said. I heard Mosher speak the other day, and I do not believe that he would have ever referred to a victim by her first name nor would he have called the sheriff "Ron" as was done in the story. The newspaper man probably did not know the difference between Beisly II and Beisly III and who had been arrested when he added those details. It does our community a disservice for "stories" like this in the local newspaper--and it is that--only a story.

-- Posted by MommaSue on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 11:04 AM

Im voting for Ron

-- Posted by kevinmckinley on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 12:48 PM

I'm voting for Ron

-- Posted by Concerned mom of 3 on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 1:58 PM

I'm voting for Mosher

-- Posted by matchstick on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 4:20 PM

Mosher's got my vote.

-- Posted by Mr. Chibbers on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 4:41 PM

go mosher

-- Posted by HEREWEGOAGAIN10 on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 4:52 PM