Grand jury returns indictments


Lancaster man indicted for high-speed chase

By Sarah Hawley - shawley@civitasmedia.com



MEIGS COUNTY — The April session of the Meigs County Grand Jury was held on April 19, returning indictments against multiple individuals, including the man alleged to have led law enforcement on multiple counties on a high-speed chase.

Jason Austin, 34, of Lancaster, was indicted by the grand jury on charges of receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony; failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony; and inducing panic, a first-degree misdemeanor.

According to previous Sentinel reports, the chase on March 15 started in Wood County, West Virginia, with a reportedly stolen vehicle in Parkersburg. The vehicle allegedly driven by Austin was then chased into Ohio, with numerous law enforcement agencies taking part.

As the vehicle traveled down Route 7, it crossed into Meigs County where the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office joined the efforts to stop the vehicle. The vehicle continued down Route 7, going onto Route 33 toward Athens before turning around at Rainbow Lake Road. The vehicle then turned off Route 33 onto Route 681 going back toward Tuppers Plains.

Law enforcement tried to use spike strips at multiple locations but were unsuccessful with the suspect reportedly driving through yards in the area to avoid the strips. The vehicle again got on Route 7 in Tuppers Plains heading toward Chester. Deputies were stationed just below Eastern Local Schools, which Wood said led the suspect to turn into the parking lot at the school, going around back toward the weight room. The suspect crashed through the fence by the sewer facility near the school’s football field. He then jumped out of the vehicle and laid on the ground where he was taken into custody.

Austin, who has a lengthy criminal record according to the sheriff’s office, was wanted by the Lancaster Police Department in Fairfield County for a robbery charge and an Adult Parole Authority warrant at the time of the incident.

The Grand Jury also returned indictments against the following individuals:

Thaddeas Bumgardner, nonsupport of dependents, a felony of the fifth degree;

Adam Ross, nonsupport of dependents, a felony of the fifth degree;

Robert Garnes, nonsupport of dependents, a felony of the fifth degree;

Jeremy Council, nonsupport of dependents, a felony of the fifth degree;

Lee Fitchpatrick, nonsupport of dependents, a felony of the fifth degree;

Melissa Dickens, carrying a concealed weapon, a felony of the fourth degree;

Colton Sparks, misuse of credit cards, a felony of the fifth degree;

Brandon Branham, assault, a misdemeanor of the first degree;

Joseph Billingsly, disrupting public service, a felony of the fourth degree

Andrew Haning, domestic violence, a felony of the fourth degree;

Carl Casto, Jr., domestic violence, a felony of the third degree.

Arrest warrants have been issued for each individual. Cases will proceed in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas.

Information from the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office

Lancaster man indicted for high-speed chase

By Sarah Hawley

shawley@civitasmedia.com