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'Disturbing' letters the talk of Okemos; but police tight-lipped


An unidentified Missouri man is wanted on a felony warrant for malicious destruction of property, but Meridian Township Police say they’re not going to seek extradition. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with a story that has tongues wagging in the township.

Unrelated to the felony allegations, the man came to police attention last week after over 40 residents of Okemos received what police described as “disturbing” communications through the U.S. Postal Service.

Police say the alleged felon was behind the mailings, which originated from St. Louis, Missouri, where the man lives.

The cryptic letters read, “Man can never escape from his conscience. You can deceive others but never yourself.”

The investigation into the letters also included the U.S. Postal Inspector Service.

As a result of the letters, which police said were “not illegal,” combined with the man’s alleged felony actions on Nov. 10, Okemos Public Schools went into a heightened security state last week. Police are refusing to identify the man, but they allege he traveled to the township earlier this month.

Meridian police have tried to coordinate with the St. Louis Police Department to check in on the suspect’s mental well being, but so far he has not been cooperative.

Despite obtaining a warrant for malicious destruction of property against the unidentified man, police and prosecutors are being tight lipped about not only his identifying information, including his age, but also regarding the specifics of what he is accused of doing. Officials declined to reveal whether the charges stem from actions against a private home or a business.

Meridian Township Police Investigations Sgt. Brad Bach cited financial constraints as the reason his department would not seek extradition. Traditionally, an agency seeking extradition of a wanted felon from another state has to foot the bill for arresting, lodging and transporting the accused.

Decisions about when and if to seek an extradition order can also be contingent on more than just financial issues, officials said in background interviews. The distance the person would need to be transported as well as the seriousness of the crime are taken into account as well. For instance, some one wanted on a misdemeanor charge for retail fraud, commonly known as shoplifting, but who is detained in Hawaii, is highly unlikely to face an extradition request from Michigan. However, a person facing a murder charge found in Florida is almost certainly expected to be extradited. Bach referred additional questions to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office.

Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the office, declined to provide specific information regarding the suspects age or details of his alleged crime. He said state court rules mandate prosecutors to protect the privacy of persons who have not yet been arraigned on criminal charges.

“When you have high publicity cases where you have a suspect and nobody’s been arraigned it puts us in a difficult situation,” Hughes said. He also said law enforcement has expressed concerns that pre-arrest publicity related to issued but unserved arrest warrants could unduly risk the safety of law enforcement sent out to apprehend a suspect.

He also declined to explain why prosecutors were not seeking extradition in this case.


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