The Clyde man who was arrested last summer after he allegedly lifted dozens of grave ornaments from area cemeteries may soon have to answer for the crimes.
Jeffrey Huey, 24, now of Solon, but previously of Clyde, made his first Erie County court appearance Monday after having fallen off the judicial map for nearly a year.
Huey was arrested early last June, after Sandusky police detectives solved a string of thefts plaguing northwest Ohio and portions of Michigan.
After learning of several flower pots, benches, urns and even trees stolen from Oakland Cemetery on Milan Road, investigators installed a hidden camera.
About a week later, they captured Huey stealing a potted palm tree from beside a grave — two trees just like it had already gone missing from the same spot, Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said last year.
Officials stopped the alleged thief, tree in tow, a few miles down the road. Huey soon admitted to stealing it as well as three other urns, Wichman said.
He then allowed police to follow him to his Clyde home, where dozens of grave ornaments lined the driveway.
Wichman at first thought Huey was scrapping the metal items for cash. But the detective soon developed another theory: Huey considered himself an artisan, Wichman said, and suspected he was re-working the ornaments for re-sale. A Facebook page later revealed Huey was attempting to turn the items around for cash.
Huey was arrested, then indicted by a grand jury last August. He attended his arraignment the next month, but never showed for a hearing in early December, court records stated.
As a result, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Finally, Huey's attorney, Gene Murray, went before Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Binette on on June 25.
Murray told the judge he'd had medical issues at the time of the hearing, arguing that Huey was not to blame for skipping out, court records stated.
Binette ordered that Huey turn himself in on the warrant so court proceedings could resume.
Huey did just that on Aug. 6, and was then placed on house arrest at his Solon home.
He appeared before Binette Monday morning.
No plea deal has been reached in the case, though Erie County assistant prosecutor Aaron Lindsey said the state is considering a diversion program.
Before they agree to that deal, however, the victims will be consulted, Lindsey said.
A final plea date has been set for October 20, and if that does not pan out, a trial is tentatively scheduled for the following week.
Wichman said Tuesday that many of the stolen ornaments have been returned to their rightful places at Oakland Cemetery.
The detective also hand-delivered one missing statue to a Bryan woman.
Other items are in storage at the Milan Road cemetery, Wichman said.