Details in Pettis County case show Laird’s methodical moves in most recent escape

Further details have emerged in the Pettis County case where former Gainesville resident Jason Laird is charged with burglary, tampering with a motor vehicle and stealing.

The Times had requested the probable cause statement in that case before last week’s edition went to press and received it after deadline.

According to the court document, Laird was working at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia July 22 as part of a crew of inmates from the Tipton Correctional Center, raking and mowing the northwest portion of the outer campground.

Just before 5 p.m. the Sedalia Police Department was notified that Laird was missing and could not be located. Despite an extensive search, he was not found.

The report says that shortly before 6 a.m. the following day, June 23, Missouri State Fair maintenance supervisor Dennis Brown reported to the police department that a white 2013 Chevrolet Silverado truck had been taken sometime overnight from outside the maintenance shed. 

“Brown advised when he arrived for work, he found the front door to the maintenance shed standing open and the door frame damaged as if it had been kicked open. Keys to the truck had been hung in a cabinet inside the office area, and the keys were missing,” the statement says. “Further investigation showed the equipment room, which is located inside the maintenance shed, had also been breached. A shoe impression was left on the door to the equipment room.”

Brown reportedly accessed the MoDOT shed’s surveillance video footage from the night before, which had a camera mounted near where the truck was stolen. Laird is first seen on the video at 11:18 p.m., the document says. 

“From 11:18 p.m. until 11:35 p.m., Laird can be seen carrying items out of the maintenance shed and putting them into the truck he stole, getting in and out of the trucks, cutting a lock on the gate. Laird can be seen leaving the parking lot at 11:33 p.m. . . . and taillights on the stolen truck can be seen at 11:35 p.m. traveling westbound on the Katy Trail,” it says.

The report says that Laird stole bolt cutters from the maintenance shed and used them to cut three gate locks between the shed’s parking area and the Katy Trail. 

Other items that were missing included a DeWalt 60-volt cordless chainsaw and a DeWalt 60-volt cordless half-inch impact wrench, each valued between $500 and $600. 

“As part of the prison work crew, Laird would have previously been inside the maintenance shed and equipment room thus being familiar with the layout and where items were located,” the statement said. 

An investigator from the Tipton Correctional Center advised the investigating police officers that Laird had recently requested a new pair of work boots. The new boots were the exact same size and model as his previous work boots, which the prison facility had kept. 

When compared with the shoe print that was left at the scene of the break-in, photos of the boots’ tread appeared to match. 

Laird was arrested in Ozark County on June 26 and was returned to the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections, where he is currently serving the rest of his sentence.  

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423