Deshaune K. Stewart, accused of two homicides Dec. 23, was scheduled for an arraignment in Franklin County Municipal Court on Dec. 27.
His arraignment has been postponed indefinitely, however, until he is stabilized and can be brought back, according to Christy McCreary, public-information officer with the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office.
Stewart is at Twin Valley Behavior Healthcare Hospital in Columbus, McCreary said.
In addition to local charges, Stewart also is facing federal charges, according to WBNS-10TV.
Stewart, who, according to authorities, was facing discipline at his job, is accused of killing Lance Herrera-Dempsey, his immediate supervisor at the Dublin post office 6400 Emerald Parkway, and then traveling three hours later to the Columbus residence of Dublin Postmaster Ginger Ballard and killing her as well.
Stewart originally was scheduled for arraignment Dec. 26, but the proceedings then were continued to Dec. 27.
Herrera-Dempsey’s homicide was Dublin’s was first such crime in nearly six years.
Mohamed Hassan, 46, was shot to death Feb. 13, 2012, at the Sunoco gasoline station on West Bridge Street in Dublin, where he was a clerk.
Within 10 days, three young Columbus men were charged with Hassan’s murder.
Police also connected the men to a Feb. 3 robbery of Max & Erma’s, 411 Metro Place North in Dublin, and a break-in at the Powder Room shooting range in Powell.
In 2013, Austin Cusey was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in Hassan’s murder.
Jeffery Collins and Eddie Murphy pleaded guilty in connection with their roles in the robbery and murder of Hassan. Collins was sentenced to 43 years to life, and Murphy was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
The Dec. 23 deaths of Herrera-Dempsey and Ballard – so close to Christmas – shocked and saddened many in the community but none more so than Steve Dempsey, who said he last saw his husband when they went to bed early Friday night (Dec. 22) in Lewis Center.
The couple, together 26 years, had a ritual of saying goodnight.
“I told him I loved him,” Dempsey, 58, said.
He didn’t realize it was goodbye.
In a matter of hours, Herrera-Dempsey, 52, would be dead at what police say was the hands of a co-worker.
Herrera-Dempsey was shot after going in for his 3 a.m. shift at the Dublin post office to join a group of postal workers sorting through the flood of the last pre-Christmas mail.
Stewart, who, authorities say, was facing discipline at his job, allegedly killed Herrera-Dempsey, his immediate supervisor, according to police. They say Stewart then went on to kill Dublin Postmaster Ginger Ballard outside of her northwest Columbus home nearly three hours later.
Stewart was facing discipline for unspecified workplace violations at the post office, Dublin police Lt. Steve Farmer said. Stewart was charged with two counts of murder.
The chaos started about 4:25 a.m. Dec. 23. Panicked workers at the post office scattered as a naked Stewart, 24, walked into the sorting bay and approached Herrera-Dempsey three hours before Stewart, a postal carrier, was scheduled to work.
Witnesses told police Herrera-Dempsey asked, “What the hell?” when he saw Stewart naked. Stewart then shot him in the shoulder, according to records. Stewart fired a second shot after Herrera-Dempsey crumpled to the ground. He targeted his supervisor and threatened no one else, witnesses said.
“I don’t know what happened with this particular person, but (Herrera-Dempsey) had the respect of a lot of people,” Dempsey said. “I’ve been getting phone calls all day from people who are just broken.”
It’s unclear what Stewart then did for a few hours, but at 7:18 a.m., he was 4 miles from the post office, at the Bowland Place residence of 53-year-old Ballard. She is listed as the postmaster of the Dublin postal facility and also was a supervisor of Stewart, police said.
Stewart is believed to have waited inside his car outside Ballard’s residence, said police Sgt. David Sicilian of the first-shift Columbus police homicide squad.
Police reported Stewart was still naked and armed with a semiautomatic gun when he was seen chasing Ballard in the parking lot of her Strathmoor apartment complex near Tuttle Crossing in northwest Columbus.
Police said Stewart threw Ballard to the pavement, crushing her skull and killing her instantly. Her body was found between two parked vehicles.
Stewart surrendered when confronted by officers a short time later.
A close friend of Ballard’s said it was OK to use comments she had written about Ballard on her Facebook page.
Ballard, she said, was supposed to attend a winter-solstice lodge event Dec. 23.
“I just don’t understand; I loved her so much,” wrote Terri Rivera, who manages Peebles-based Serpent Mound Seed and Water Peace Summit Water in Adams County. “I pray for all of you who she touched. Big prayers for her mom and dad, their only child and the light of their lives; her partner, Karen, and all the postal employees and family she leaves behind.”
On Saturday evening, Dempsey spoke about his husband, saying the couple had lived in Ohio for the past 14 years. Herrera-Dempsey, he said, worked for the post office for more than a decade, starting as a carrier and then working his way up to supervisor.
“He was about taking care of his people,” Dempsey said. “He was a carrier himself. He knew what the challenges were.”
Sicilian termed the homicides “workplace violence,” stating he believed Stewart apparently retaliated against those whom he had accused of being behind his pending dismissal from the U.S. Postal Service.
Stewart was charged by Dublin police with premeditated aggravated murder in the death of Herrera-Dempsey. Columbus police charged him with murder in the death of Ballard. Dublin police listed Stewart with a northeast Columbus address. Columbus police said he lived in the Canal Winchester area.
The post office was not open to the public when the shooting occurred and remained closed Dec. 23.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service offered a brief statement: “Because this tragic matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Postal Inspection Service and local law enforcement, we are not yet in a position to provide details concerning the incidents,” said Kathryn Woliung, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The U.S. attorney’s office later will provide additional information, she said.
Herrera-Dempsey’s relatives said they still were processing the news. A man they described as kind, family-oriented and hardworking was suddenly gone. He was a member of United Methodist Church For All People on Parsons Avenue.
Herrera-Dempsey, a native of Bishop, California, was one of eight children. He still looked in on his sisters and adored his nieces and nephews. He mailed his sister, Lisa Gonzales, and niece, Asia Gonzales, a box of Cheryl’s Cookies to California for Christmas. The package had arrived there on Friday evening, his niece said by phone.
“He should have never died the way he died,” Lisa Gonzales said.
Dempsey, who spent Saturday evening surrounded by family members, shared memories of his husband. The couple met when they were serving in the Army and stationed in Worms, Germany.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Dempsey said. “There’s not going to be a Christmas, right?”
ThisWeek staff writer Sarah Sole contributed to this story.