A police detective who helped uncover serious violations at a licensed group care home and another unlicensed facility has been recognized by the Columbus Police Department.
Cpl. Valerie Holder, a detective in the Sex Crime Unit, was named Officer of the Month for November for an investigation that led to four suspects arrested and new homes found for 19 disabled adults.
"I was just doing my job," Holder said. "I wasn't expecting to get Officer of the Month. It's OK. It's all good."
Holder, 29, also was recognized by other agencies, said Police Lt. Warren Dunlap, her supervisor. "Cpl. Holder's effort on this case has been noted by the FBI and she received a letter of commendation from the Child Advocacy Center in reference to her commitment to resolve this case," Dunlap said in a statement.
The FBI first contacted Holder in early November about a stalled investigation in a human trafficking case. The investigating led to police executing search warrants, conducting interviews and ultimately arresting suspects.
The first two arrests came against Marcus Miles, 32, and wife, Kashanda Miles, 35, who are accused of operating an unlicensed group care home at 5627 Monmouth Drive in the Yorktown neighborhood. Three women had told police they escaped from the Miles home after police found them at Fort Benning. A girl, 15, later told the FBI that she was sexually assaulted at the home.
The Mileses were charged with aggravated child molestation and two counts each of false imprisonment and sexual assault on a person in custody.
During that investigation, police learned that three mental patients who were staying at the Monmouth Drive home should have been housed at the Loving Care Independent Living Center at 4225 Alton St. but the director out sourced patients to the unlicensed home.
As the investigation moved to Alton Street, police went to the facility and found that patients were not getting enough food, some were sleeping on couches and bathroom floors. Canned goods at the home had expired dates and bags of beans were infested and covered in roach feces.
"It was just a pretty big group effort just trying to pinpoint everything," Holder said.
Sheryl Drakeford, 55, the director of the Alton Street home, and maintenance employee Bruce Davis, 61, are charged with intimidating or exploiting a disabled adult, a felony.
Holder, a native of Panama, has been at the department for nine years and hopes to remain there. Her first language is Spanish and she's one of a few Spanish speaking officers at the department.
She is a graduate of Hardaway High School in Columbus and Troy University. She has two dogs and spends her spare time teaching Zumba, a Latin-inspired exercise.