MOUNT VERNON — Michael T. Collins, 54, Frazeysburg, was indicted Monday by a Knox Count Grand Jury for the murder of Lilly Dawn Claggett, 35, St. Louisville.
According to Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher, Collins was also indicted for the attempted murder of his 30-year-old son, Jesse Collins.
Thatcher said at 10:27 p.m. on July 1, two 9-1-1 callers reported a single vehicle crash near 1596 Martinsburg Road in southern Knox County. A 1998 blue Ford Contour had crashed off the left side of the road and lodged against a pine tree. The driver, Lilly Dawn Claggett, was shot and mortally wounded. The passenger, Jesse Collins, was shot and seriously wounded.
Officers responding to the scene found several .45 caliber spent casings on both sides of the road immediately south of the crash. A loaded .45 caliber “High Point” semi-automatic pistol was recovered from Claggett’s vehicle. The State Highway Patrol assumed the lead in the investigation with the assistance of the Knox County and Licking County Sheriffs’ offices.
At 6 a.m. on July 2, a SWAT team executed a search warrant at Michael Collins’ residence at 10780 Pleasant Valley Road in Licking County. Collins and his 28-year-old daughter, Melissa Collins Kramer, were taken into investigative custody. Later that morning officers recovered a .45 caliber “Springfield” semiautomatic pistol behind a utility pole on Swick Holton Road in Licking County. The .45 caliber “Springfield” was allegedly in Michael Collins’ possession the night of July 1.
At 6 p.m. on July 2, a Highway Patrol aviation unit flew over Melissa Collins Kramer’s mobile home at 1520 Martinsburg Road. Thatcher said the driveway to Kramer’s mobile home is approximately 700 feet from where Claggett’s vehicle crashed. Aerial photographs show apparent tire marks and vehicle debris in Kramer’s yard, including the front bumper fascia of Michael Collins’ white 1997 GMC Jimmy.
Later in the investigation, the State Patrol Crime Lab found damage and suspected white paint transfer on Claggett’s Ford Contour that is allegedly unrelated to the crash into the pine tree on Ohio 586. A bullet hole was found in the Ford’s right rear tail light assembly, and the bullet was recovered from the spare tire in the trunk. Another bullet was recovered from the interior side of a door in the Ford’s driver’s compartment. No bullet holes were found on Collins’ GMC Jimmy.
The grand jury also returned firearms specifications against Collins accusing him of using the .45 caliber “Springfield” to commit the offenses contained in the indictment. Collins is also charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly hiding the gun after Claggett and Collins’ son were shot.
Melissa Collins Kramer was also indicted on a tampering with evidence charge for allegedly helping her father hide the gun. She faces obstructing justice charges as well for allegedly lying to investigators to hinder the investigation.
Several other indictments were handed down by the grand jury.
Shortly after midnight on July 29, Ryan J. Harman, 20, Mount Vernon, was allegedly spotted by Sgt. Troy Glazier, Mount Vernon Police Department, driving a 1990 Ford F-350 pickup truck southbound on Sandusky Street. At about the same time police dispatchers issued a notice that the pickup truck had been stolen from a residence near Centerburg. Glazier engaged the lights and sirens on his patrol vehicle, and started to pursue Harman when he allegedly failed to stop. He allegedly ran several red lights and stop signs driving at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour while being pursued.
Harman eventually abandoned the truck after a chase that lasted several minutes. Harman was captured by Patrolman Tim Arnold after a brief foot chase. Thatcher said Harman’s indictment includes charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, receiving stolen property, failing to comply with the order or signal of a police officer and obstructing official business.
James D. Ervin II, 22, Mount Vernon, faces multiple felony charges for two unrelated incidents. On April 2, Ervin allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old male victim causing injuries that required medical treatment in the emergency room. While at the hospital, the victim allegedly received a cell phone call threatening him with further harm if he pursued criminal charges. Ervin faces felonious assault and intimidation charges for this incident.
On April 3, Ervin allegedly broke into a business and stole a .50-caliber rifle. Later, Ervin allegedly escaped from a police cruiser while being detained for questioning about the break-in and stolen rifle. Ervin is accused of breaking and entering, grand theft of a firearm, possessing a stolen firearm and escape for this incident. Detective Sgt. Jeff Jacobs investigated the case.
According to the indictment, George J. Weber Jr., Mount Vernon, was convicted of domestic violence in the Mount Vernon Municipal Court in 2002. Thatcher said on July 15, Weber allegedly assaulted a family member, first in a vehicle and then in the street near a Nuce Road address. The alleged victim was transported by squad to the emergency room where she was treated and released. Weber is charged with felony domestic violence. Cpl. Robert Morgan, MVPD, handled the case.
The Knox County Prosecutor’s Office and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office are members of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) in Cleveland. While conducting an online Internet investigation to identify persons possessing and sharing child pornography on Dec. 22, 2010, an ICAC investigator found that photos and videos containing child pornography were allegedly being shared from an IP address near Centerburg. On Jan. 24, 2011, Detective Tom Bumpus, KCSO, executed a search warrant at Eric L. Strosnider’s, 34, residence seizing his computer for forensic analysis. ICAC’s computer analysis allegedly confirmed the presence of 19 files containing obscene material in which minors were either participants or observers. Strosnider is charged with pandering obscenity involving a minor and pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
Rick Owen Black, 21, Mount Vernon, allegedly broke into a home on Madison Street at about 3 a.m. on July 7. He was later allegedly found in possession of an air compressor and tools stolen from the home. Black is charged with burglary and receiving stolen property. Patrol Officer Jessica Butler, MVPD, investigated the case.
Between Oct. 20, 2009, and June 12, 2011, Neil L. Vernon, 63, Mount Vernon, allegedly received $4,659 worth of electric service without paying for it after he tampered with the electric meter at his home. Vernon is accused of theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with electric wires. Deputy Scott Baker, KCSO, handled the case.
Six Mount Vernon residents face charges of passing bad checks, forgery and theft for allegedly passing 17 checks at two Mount Vernon financial institutions, between May 23 and July 11. Caroline Dewitt, 64, Anna M. St. John aka Frost, 19, Holly R. Frost, 25, Andrew S. Hess, 22, Felicia D. Nelson, 20, and Jenni S. Sterling, 20, allegedly cashed checks on closed checking accounts totaling $12,303.83. Detective Cpl. Matt Dailey, MVPD, investigated the cases.
On May 7, 2010, while employed at a local auto parts store, Jennifer L. Hughes, 30, Newark, allegedly billed $1,163.49 worth of auto parts to a customer’s account without the customer’s knowledge or permission. She allegedly used the customer’s personal information without permission, as well. Hughes is charged with theft and identity fraud. Sgt. Fred Gerber, MVPD, handled the case.
Arraignments are scheduled for Aug. 19 at 9 a.m., before Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster.