By CARL E. FEATHER - firstname.lastname@example.org
An early-morning search on Oct. 14 for a missing “hunter” revealed more than just the location of the 39-year-old Ashtabula man — it turns out that he and his partners were hunting marijuana.
According to an Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department report, a search team from the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department began the search around 2:49 a.m. the morning of Oct. 14, about three hours after the man’s ex-wife reported him missing.
She told a deputy that she had dropped off at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13 her ex-husband and two others, a 31-year-old Ashtabula man and 18-year-old Ashtabula Township man, at the Ridgeview Cemetery on Austinburg Road. She told the deputy that the men had guns and were going hunting, although nothing was in season.
Two of the men met at the rendezvous point, First Church of the Nazarene, later in the evening, but the
third never showed up. The 31-year-old told a deputy that, at one point during his ordeal, he was surrounded by four coyotes. He feared for their missing man’s safety because of gunshots they heard coming from the woods. A search effort was assembled with help from Windsor Fire Chief Dave Turk.
The missing man was soon located hiding in weeds near the First Church of the Nazarene on Route 84. The real story about their adventure then came out: the missing man said there were marijuana plants with “70 to 80 pounds” of pot on them growing on private property in the woods.
All three men face a charge of criminal trespassing, while the 31-year-old also faces a charge of obstruction of justice for concealing facts related to the investigation. The ex-wife, 38 of Ashtabula Township, faces an obstruction of official business charge for her involvement in the scheme, according to the report.
The marijuana plants were located by law enforcement and removed from the site. The investigation into who owns the property on which they were growing continues.