By Jason Schock
With the smartphone securely settled in one of two burly meat hooks branded by engine grease and a torque wrench, Josh Nincehelser flicks his right index finger maybe three times before the list of recent calls abruptly stops at 1:09 p.m. Monday, June 29.
“You can see it’s a Lincoln number,” Nincehelser says while turning the screen around to offer visual confirmation. More than two hours into a generally casual conversation, and one year after his notorious shooting/false report/arrest, the 26-year-old former Richardson County Sheriff’s Deputy assumes skepticism accompanies everything he says.
The number, he says, is that of the Child Advocacy Center in Lincoln and he had called in an attempt to arrange a visit with a four-year-old daughter he had not seen or spoken to since March 22. He was uneasy, to say the least, about the potential meeting because in the days following that weekend visit, he had become “the offender” in the eyes of the CAC, the Dept. of Health and Human Services and his one-time band of brothers — law enforcement.
Days after the little girl spent that weekend with her dad and his girlfriend in their Dawson home, ugly accusations were made against the father and an order of protection was issued by the judge. Josh could only see his daughter at the CAC, for an hourly fee of $50, and under the supervision of a “child advocate” employed to “support the child victim and the non-offending caregiver.” The Advocacy Center’s vast informational website does not give reference or direction to “alleged offending caregiver.”
“You can see it’s a Lincoln number,” he says.
Former Richardson County Deputy Sheriff Josh Nincehelser, currently serving three years of probation for last summer’s much-publicized shooting incident, is in Nemaha County Jail facing felony charges of first degree sexual assault on his four-year-old daughter, incest and child abuse. He was arrested by Nebraska State Patrolman Eugene True at work Monday afternoon at Koch’s Auto in Dawson, almost a year to the day after True arrested him for shooting himself in the arm with a department-issued gun and then lying about it.
The 26-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison. The minimum sentence is 20 years. Judge Curtis Maschman Wednesday in Richardson County Court set bond at $150,000 (10 percent allowable). He remains in jail, but family members said they’re currently trying to ascertain a line of credit and post the $15,000 needed for his release. He’s being held in Nemaha County Jail, but because the alleged crime was reportedly committed in his Dawson home, Nincehelser will appear before Judge Maschman back in Falls City for a pretrial hearing Wednesday morning, July 22.
Nincehelser’s former employer, the Richardson County Sheriff’s Office, received a child sexual assault complaint from his estranged ex-girlfriend’s sister, Tiffany Dettmann, 21, in March and requested the Nebraska State Patrol conduct the investigation, according to a source close to the case.
According to his girlfriend of four years, Courtney DeBuhr, 25, who lives with Nincehelser in Dawson, the accusation is without merit and a result of a tumultuous custody battle. DeBuhr accuses the toddler’s mother, Tessa Dettmann, and her family, of “coaching” the little girl into telling authorities a fabricated story in which her father touched the little girl inappropriately when she spent a night in he and DeBuhr’s home last spring.
“They’re just trying to nail Josh on something so he can’t have any parental rights,” DeBuhr said. “It didn’t happen – I was there. She was in our bed all night; I heard nothing and saw nothing. She was the last one to fall asleep. They just want to put him back in jail.”
After Nincehelser’s arrest last summer, his parental rights were suspended, but “progressive custody,” which began with monitored hourly visits, was resumed over the winter. Following his January sentencing, DeBuhr said Nincehelser took out a bank loan against his vehicle so he could afford to hire a lawyer and gain more time with the child. The latest accusation, she said, was made against Nincehelser both in retribution for his attempt to fight custody and also as a means to end it. If so, it’s worked thus far on the second count – he has been allowed no contact with the child since March 21, DeBuhr said.
“He’s avoided them (the Dettmann family) at all costs,” she said.
DeBuhr was questioned by Investigator True and Nincehelser was twice interrogated after the accusation was made; the second time, in early April, he willingly drove to State Patrol Headquarters in Lincoln, took a polygraph test and answered questions for some four hours, according to DeBuhr, who also said Nincehelser was told he’d failed the lie-detector test. Thereafter, authorities made no contact with Nincehelser for more than two months, until Monday’s arrest.
“We were told in March they didn’t have any evidence to make an arrest,” DeBuhr said. “I don’t know what could’ve happened the last two months because Josh hasn’t even seen her.”
“I’m fighting this with full force – because it’s not right,” she said. “He (messed) up last summer, but he didn’t do this.”
In June 2014, while on patrol along Highway 73 north of Dawson, Nincehelser reported being shot in the arm by a stopped motorist. He later admitted to shooting himself. He eventually pleaded guilty to a felony charge of criminal mischief and a misdemeanor charge of false reporting after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. In January he was sentenced to a three-year probation term and ordered to perform 180 days of community service.