An East Toledo man was charged with murder last night in the death of a nurse's aide after police said he dropped a 24-pound metal plate from a railroad overpass - shattering her windshield and striking her in the face and chest.
Dorothy Minggia, 42, had just finished her late shift Thursday at Lutheran Home on Wheeling Street and was driving westbound on South Ravine Parkway just west of I-280 when the assault occurred shortly after 11 p.m.
She drove under a Norfolk Southern railroad overpass when a steel plate, used to anchor rails to ties, dropped through her windshield from about 20 feet above her. After she was struck, her vehicle continued some 150 yards through a stop sign at Dearborn Avenue before running into a utility pole on the opposite side of the road.
Ms. Minggia was taken to St. Charles Mercy Hospital in Oregon, where she was pronounced dead. She died of blunt force trauma to the neck and chest and had a broken neck, according to the Lucas County coroner's office.
Dorothy Minggia (see more photos from this story below)
Morrison / Blade photo Enlarge
"This is what's so sickening," police Lt. Bill Moton said. "She was just doing her job, making a living."
Charged by Toledo police with murder was Jamie Pacheco, 20, of 2018 Price St. He was being held last night in the Lucas County jail pending arraignment in Toledo Municipal Court.
Mike Manning, 21, of the same address, and a 14-year-old who had run away from a foster home, were charged with vandalism and delinquency in connection with vandalism, respectively. Mr. Manning was being held in the jail; the runaway was being held in the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center.
The incident left one family in Toledo's central city grieving for a mother of two who a sister remembered as "always laughing, always smiling," while an East Toledo couple were led to call a police tip hot line to turn in the two men, who lived with them, and the 14-year-old runaway who recently had become their companion.
"They deserved it," said Jenny Huffman, 25, who said she called the Crime Stopper tip hot line by midday yesterday. "They killed an innocent woman."
Mrs. Huffman and her husband, Walter, had guardianship of Mr. Manning until he became an adult, and Mr. Pacheco had moved in with the Huffmans this summer.
The pair had a history of breaking windows, she and others said.
Earlier in the evening Thursday, the three had been dropping rocks off the nearby I-280 overpass, but fled their perch for the railroad overpass after a motorist stopped on the interstate, Toledo police Detective Kermit Quinn said.
"When they left last night, they intended to go out and do some window busting," Detective Quinn said.
Mrs. Huffman said she knew Mr. Pacheco broke windows and Mr. Manning often went, with him, but she noted that the two were adults and she couldn't tell them what to do or tell them not to spend time with each other.
"He'd break out windows of cars that were parked, but I never thought he'd do this," Mrs. Huffman said of Mr. Pacheco.
Ashley York, a 17-year-old friend of the family, said Mr. Pacheco would take pictures of the windows he shattered with a cell phone camera.
"He'd say he'd have to make a quota," she said. "He makes it a job, a hobby."
Ms. Huffman said Mr. Manning and Mr. Pacheco returned to her Price Street home late Thursday, then arose the next morning, showered, and went to work.
Later in the day, Mr. Manning watched a noon newscast that included video of Ms. Minggia's grieving sisters. Mrs. Huffman said her husband, who knew the trio had been out late the previous evening, confronted Mr. Manning, who began pacing from the kitchen to the living room - obviously upset.
"He said he's not the one who threw it, but he's willing to tell," Mrs. Huffman said. "He said he was ready to confess."
Mr. Manning went to the phone book to look up the Crime Stopper number to turn himself and the others in. Mrs. Huffman, who knew the number, instead called for him.
Police arrested the two men and the runaway a short time later.
Ms. Minggia had returned to her childhood home on Milburn Avenue in Toledo just over a year ago to take care of her ailing mother. Police responding to her damaged vehicle originally had been dispatched to a report of a single-vehicle traffic accident.
Shortly after Ms. Minggia arrived at the hospital, however, doctors alerted investigators at the Ravine Parkway scene that Ms. Minggia's chest wounds were not consistent with injuries from a vehicle collision.
They originally believed she may have been shot. Police then found the 10-inch by 14-inch metal plate in the rear seat of the Chevy Lumina that Ms. Minggia had been driving.
Later in the day, siblings and friends gathered at Ms. Minggia's home.
Her sister, Iris Wyatt, said Ms. Minggia had been at Ms. Wyatt's home Monday "saying how things were going so well."
She'd come out of a divorce and had lost a job in Colorado when her factory closed last year. Knowing her widowed mother had become sick, Ms. Minggia, the mother of a grown son and daughter, returned home to be with family.
"She was saving for a new car, and she liked her job," Ms. Wyatt said. "She seemed so happy."
Ms. Minggia had taken classes to be a nurse's aide and began working at Lutheran Home about two months ago. She planned to sign up for classes to become a licensed practical nurse.
"She was always laughing, always smiling," said another sister, Kendra Wyatt, who is a nurse.
Police said unidentified suspects for weeks now have dropped rocks and other objects off East Toledo overpasses.
On Oct. 5, a Newport, Mich., trucker driving on I-280 through East Toledo stopped his vehicle after a rock crashed through his window. He and another man chased the suspects, later identified as juveniles.
The incident does not appear to be related to Ms. Minggia's homicide, and it's unclear who has been responsible for the dangerous rock-throwing, police said.
"It's a secluded area and under brush," said Sgt. Al Papenfus. "You're going along in a truck and you only see the rock coming down. By the time you realize what's happened, these [suspects] are gone."
During an evening news conference, police officials and Mayor Jack Ford credited a Crime Stopper tipster, but they declined to offer details or confirm the caller's identity because the program's success has been driven, in part, by the callers' option to remain anonymous.
At an earlier news conference, authorities offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Whether any money is awarded will be up to Crime Stopper board members.
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