Leave Feedback

Sheriff skips details on botched raid

Courtney Astolfi • Nov 23, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard provided what appears to be inaccurate information last week to bolster his defense of deputies involved in a botched raid on Benedict Avenue on March 25. 

Howard released a series of text messages exchanged between his detective and a Norwalk police officer regarding the flawed search warrant used in the raid. 

But he left out four specific text messages that appear to show statements he’s made about the raid are not accurate. 

The sheriff appears also to have incorrectly stated that no conversation occurred between his deputy and the Norwalk officer in the days leading up to the raid. 

Phone records obtained by the Register show it apparently did occur. 

On Thursday, Howard agreed to address the inaccuracies. But he later back-pedaled and refused to comment altogether.

The four crucial text messages inexplicably missing from the series of texts Howard released contain information that shows sheriff’s Detective Kayla Zander told Norwalk police Detective Jim Fulton a woman named Patricia Papp lived at 114½ Benedict Ave. Fulton warned Zander, however, that neither Papp nor Papp’s son, Rob Hendricks — the intended target of the search warrant — lived at the address.

Deputies raided the home despite the warnings. 

John Collins was sitting in his living room when they stormed his door. He told deputies they had the wrong man and the wrong home, but they forced him to the ground at gunpoint, handcuffed him and made him watch as they ransacked his personal property. In the process, the deputies broke sentimental and pricey items that belonged to Collins. 

Fulton already had provided the Register copies of a pivotal text exchange in which Zander unknowingly admitted deputies had faulty information.

Howard’s failure to release the entire text exchange between Fulton and Zander appears to be part of a continuing stream of misinformation coming from the sheriff. 

The Norwalk Police Department has complained that deputies are not properly trained, are disrespectful to residents and fellow law enforcement agencies and are overzealous in their actions. 

Police Chief David Light does not want the sheriff operating in the city until deputies are better trained and learn the proper procedures law enforcement agencies are required to follow.  

The four text messages Howard withheld show that Howard’s contention the deputies were never informed they had the wrong home prior to the raid is not accurate. According to the Norwalk police text records, Fulton asked Zander if she pinned down exactly who lived at the address just an hour or two before the search warrant was executed.

Her reply? “Ur girl.”

Zander was referring to a conversation she and Fulton had the previous day about Patricia Papp, according to internal Norwalk police documents obtained through a public records request.

Howard told the Norwalk Reflector this week that no such conversation ever occurred. 

But Fulton’s phone records appear to clearly show it did. 

At 12 p.m. on the dot, March 24, Fulton’s Sprint bill shows a six-minute incoming call from Zander’s number.

During that conversation, Fulton said he told Zander that Hendricks lived on Gallup Avenue and occasionally Bouscay Avenue — and as far as he knew, Hendricks never lived on Benedict Avenue.

Deputies ignored the warnings and proceeded with executing the flawed search warrant anyway.

During the month since the botched raid at 114½ Benedict Ave., Sheriff Howard and Chief Deputy Ted Patrick have provided the public a slew of what appears to be inaccurate information.

The Register sent Howard a list, asking him to clarify, correct, or simply offer comment on the apparently inaccurate and inconsistent information he and Patrick have provided. Here is that list:

•Fulton’s copies of the text exchange include four text messages that show deputies were informed they had the wrong address. The text messages Howard provided did not include those four specific texts that refute his statements.

•Howard told the Reflector no phone call occurred between Zander and Fulton. Fulton has phone records that show the phone call did occur despite Howard’s statement to the contrary.

•Patrick told the Register deputies learned Papp and her other son, Thomas Papp, had outstanding warrants while they searched Collins’ home. The record shows Fulton informed Zander about the warrants more than 24 hours in advance, contrary to statements by Howard and Patrick.

•Patrick told the Register he was “unaware” Patricia Papp was Rob Hendricks’ mother. The record shows Zander told Fulton of that relationship March 24.

•Howard told the Reflector Norwalk police were involved with the warrant’s execution. Fulton at first offered assistance from Norwalk police, but officers got caught up in their own investigation and did not assist deputies, Fulton said.

•Howard said the warrant was executed properly. The records shows there are multiple inconsistencies in the warrant affidavit, however, which was approved by Huron County juvenile court Judge Timothy Cardwell. Informants and anonymous tipsters all told deputies Hendricks sold pills out of Papp’s home, not the 114½ address where Collins lives. The search warrant affidavit does not mention Collins, despite statements from Howard and Patrick that it was the right address.

Howard initially said he’d address the concerns about inaccurate information being provided by the sheriff’s office, saying some of the points were “misinformation.” Just a few minutes later, however, he withdrew that offer and declined to comment.

Recommended for You