A Sandusky officer pulled over Howell’s vehicle at Columbus and Perkins avenues at 3 a.m., after noticing several large pieces of metal protruding from the back of his SUV, according to Sandusky police Detective Dana Newell.
Officers suspected the metal was stolen but needed to determine where it came from before filing charges.
Howell offered a myriad of explanations justifying the metal and his whereabouts when he was pulled over, but investigators eventually got him to admit his cargo was stolen, Newell said.
“His story was all over the place, and finally he said, ‘Well, I’ll just show you,’” Newell said.
At about 10 a.m. Tuesday, Newell set out with Howell to pinpoint the location of the theft. He first directed Newell to a Huron-area hotel, then a construction site on Rye Beach Road, Newell said. An Erie County detective later joined in the search.
Howell’s story was still not matching up. Hotel employees said the metal didn’t belong to them, and investigators learned the metal did not come from the construction site either, Newell said.
Tiring of Howell’s lack of cooperation, investigators began to haul him back to the county jail.
Howell finally offered up the real story: He, along with Hall and Hensley, stole 1,500 pounds of steel I-beams from Ahner Fabricating and Sheet Metal Inc. on Perkins Avenue, Perkins police Detective Joe Rotuno said.
When confronted with the information, employees checked their stock and found items missing.
In interviews with the suspects, Rotuno said he learned they stole the items to feed their heroin habit.
Investigators suspect the men might be to blame for other scrap metal thefts, but they’re still investigating.
Howell and Hensley remain in the Erie County jail on $5,00 bond, and Hall’s bond was set at $13,000.