POMEROY — In a court appearance for a preliminary hearing on a theft charge, James E. Gardner was served a complaint on a second charge — murder.
Gardner, 40, of Middleport, was charged with murder in the Nov. 11 death of his father, James W. Gardner.
James W. Gardner’s body was found at the residence the two lived in on Wells Road near the Meigs-Gallia County line in the evening hours of Nov. 11. In the days following the death, the younger Gardner was labeled a person of interest in the suspicious death.
Meigs County Sheriff Robert Beegle stated, at that time, the unofficial cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Gardner remained on the run until last Friday when he was taken into custody by Gallia County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Following the arraignment, a preliminary hearing on the theft charge was held.
Agent Mike Trout from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation testified about the investigation regarding the alleged theft of a 2011 Dodge 2500 pick-up truck owned by the late Gardner.
Trout stated that surveillance video showed James E. Gardner with the vehicle at 12:08 p.m. at the KC Mart in Cheshire. He stated that this is believed to have been after the time of James W. Gardner’s death.
Trout stated that when the vehicle was located on Nov. 29 by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office the appearance of the vehicle had changed. He said portions of the truck had been painted gray, the bumper had been removed, and the portions of the interior had been removed.
The vehicle was located at a property owned by Michael Northrup according to the testimony. Trout said Gardner had sold the vehicle under the name Jamie Hartman.
Gardner’s attorney Trenton Cleland argued for a reduction in bond on the case, stating that his client was a lifelong resident of the county and not a flight risk.
Bond was continued in the case. It had been set at $100,000 during a Monday afternoon hearing.
Attorney Charles Knight was appointed to represent Gardner on the murder charge. Bond in that case was set at $500,000.
The theft charge was bound over to Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
A preliminary hearing on the murder charge was set for 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 20.