Laird charged with fleeing from officers, stealing a school car and burglarizing a home
Three new cases have been filed against Gainesville resident Jason Laird, 42, in connection with several crimes reported within the area over the last few weeks.
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed first posted Laird’s photo on Facebook on Jan. 24, indicating in his post that the Gainesville man was wanted by officers on six Ozark County active warrants with “several other warrants pending.”
Reed’s post was shared 478 times, and a flurry of tips was received by officers over the last few weeks, but none has led to Laird’s arrest.
Three new cases were filed last Friday, Feb. 7, bringing the total number of active warrants to 9. The resident told Urich that Laird left the residence through the back door and ran into the woods behind the home. Urich said he believed Laird would return to her home, so he parked a short distance from the home to attempt to catch him if he came back.
Urich requested assistance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and MSHP Trooper John Roberts responded. The two officers met at the end of White Oak Drive in Gainesville to formulate a plan.
Roberts and Urich decided to park their vehicles on the roadway and walk into a forested area, the report says. As they continued walking deeper into the woods toward the house, the officers heard a man and woman yelling at each other.
A dispatcher radioed the officers and confirmed that the woman said Laird was back at the residence. Urich ran back to his patrol car and drove toward the home, attempting to approach the residence from the front, and Roberts reportedly continued on foot to the back of the house.
Laird fled on foot as Urich approached. The officer yelled at Laird, telling him to stop and that he was under arrest, but Laird continued to flee.
The two officers took off after him but lost track of him in the woods.
After the foot pursuit, Roberts and Urich, who were then joined by several other deputies, troopers and another officer described as a Fish and Game officer in the statement but believed to be a Missouri Department of Conservation agent, joined the search.
Due to the rough terrain, officers were unable to locate Laird, the report says. The search was called off at 1 p.m. that day.
Stealing a car
from the school
On Jan. 22, three days after the foot pursuit with officers, the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department was notified that a gray, four-door 2012 Chevrolet Malibu owned by the Gainesville R-5 School District had been unlawfully taken from the school.
A surveillance video from the school grounds shows a person, who appears to be a man, dressed in bib-type overalls and a hooded sweatshirt drive the Malibu to an area where a fuel tank is stored at 2:38 a.m.
The footage reportedly shows the suspect exit the vehicle and attempt to put fuel into the car from the school’s tank. The man then enters a small outbuilding, exits the building, returns to the car and drives away.
The next day, Thursday, Jan. 23, the sheriff’s office received a report that a similar vehicle was spotted on Cedar Oak Drive in Gainesville a few miles from the Gainesville High School.
Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Curtis Dobbs responded to the location and found a gray Malibu sitting in a driveway with a sheet over the rear of the car, covering the license plate. Dobbs removed the sheet and ran the license plate through the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES), which showed that the vehicle had been reported stolen from the school.
It was towed to the sheriff’s office impound area, where it was processed. Officers found several items inside the vehicle, including clothing, boots, cell phones, a spotting scope, a waterproof bag and tools commonly used to gain entrance to locked vehicles.
Dobbs contacted “a person familiar with Laird” to look at the items. The individual, who is not named in any of the documents, reportedly told officers some of the items belonged to Laird.
Burglarizing a home
Also on Jan. 23, officers responded to a report of a burglary at Aaron and Jessica Workman’s home on Cedar Oak Drive.
Ozark County Deputy Dustin Smith met with Jessica Workman, who reportedly told the deputy that someone had entered their home while she and her husband were away earlier that day.
She said Aaron Workman arrived home from work around 5 p.m. and found the front door of the residence suspiciously locked. She said she knew the door had been left unlocked when she and her husband left earlier that day.
She said they also found several articles of wet clothing thrown on the floor of the home that did not belong to anyone in their family. The clothing included a camouflage beanie-type cap, a long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, boxer shorts and boots. All were sized for a man of small stature, the statement says.
Two handguns, a Rock Island Armory 1911 .45-caliber pistol with pearl grip and a Jimenez .380 pistol, were missing, along with ammunition for the guns and a pair of work boots.
Smith wrote in his report that Laird was believed to be in the area during that time, based on the stolen car from the school that was found not far from the Workman home.
A woman referred to as Laird’s “past companion” was contacted by officers and agreed to look at the clothing left at the Workman home. She reportedly identified several articles as clothes that Laird owned.
Laird is charged with a class A misdemeanor of resisting or interfering with an arrest, detention or stop in connection with the Jan. 21 foot pursuit with officers.
He is charged with the class D felony of tampering with a motor vehicle in connection with the theft of the school’s car.
He is charged with the class B felony of first-degree burglary and two class D felonies of stealing a firearm in connection with the Jan. 23 break-in at the Workman home.
Capias warrants, meaning warrants with no bond and full extradition rights, have been issued in all three cases