Authorities on Thursday continued searching for the remains of Michael Sheppard Jr., a man reportedly killed nearly 15 years ago during a drug deal gone bad.
Based on information provided by a suspect in the case, authorities have been digging in the area of Fox Lane — a private road located off U.S. 250 between Norwalk and Milan, just south of the Erie County line.
The Norwalk Reflector witnessed a BCI team using a small excavator to dig up an area covering about 60 yards in a ravine off of Fox Lane on Thursday.
“I can confirm we are working on the Sheppard case,” said Jill Del Greco, spokeswoman for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), which is a division of the attorney general’s office — the agency prosecuting the case. “This is an ongoing, open case.”
Huron County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Stanfield was one of seven people spotted in the search area Thursday.
“The search continues. We are trying to get the victim back to his mother,” he said.
Lt. Bill Duncan, in a separate interview with the Reflector, said “we are there for support,” noting the search started about mid-morning Wednesday.
“We are providing one deputy as needed to maintain the scene,” he added.
Del Greco said she can’t discuss “what we’re doing now” on Fox Lane, but noted the attorney general’s office has been working on the case “all week.” The BCI spokeswoman also said the recent activity is connected to “what happened in court Monday.”
Sheppard, of Perkins Township, was last seen alive May 8, 2003 in Huron County. He was 34 years old at the time.
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Authorities this morning are searching for the body of Michael Sheppard Jr., a man reportedly killed in 2003 during a drug deal gone bad.
On Monday, Joshua Stamm, 37, of Florida, pleaded guilty in Huron County Common Pleas Court to an amended count of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony. He had been facing two murder charges, and his trial was supposed to start Tuesday.
As part of his plea deal, Stamm provided information on what occurred on the night of Sheppard’s death.
Stamm reportedly told authorities Sheppard was shot multiple times during an attempted marijuana sale, and his body was buried in the Fox Lane area. Fox Lane is located off U.S. 250 between Norwalk and Milan, not far from the Huron County-Erie County line.
Crews this morning are on Fox Lane, trying to find the body based on information Stamm provided.
Sheppard’s mom told reporters that the man responsible for shooting Sheppard said he “overacted.”
Stamm was one of three people each facing two murder charges, having been indicted in May 2017 for their alleged roles in Sheppard’s death. In exchange for Stamm’s plea and the information, the murder charges against him were dropped.
The other two defendants in the case are Scott Hall, 46, of Clyde and Adam White, 36, of Sandusky. White and Hall’s jury trials are scheduled for Dec. 11.
One of Stamm’s attorneys, Steven Bradley, said the plea deal didn’t include an agreement that Stamm would testify against his codefendants, and the prosecution didn’t plan on calling him as a witness.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the cases.
Sheppard disappeared in May 2003 just before Mother’s Day. Perkins police originally believed it to be a missing person case.
The case languished for years with no arrests and no closure for the family. In 2009, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations took over the investigation led by agent Tom Brokamp.
Brokamp believed Sheppard was killed in a drug dispute in Huron County. They ran extensive searches at the Huron County property where they believe Sheppard was shot and buried, but no body was found.
Scott and Hall were arrested soon after the May 2017 indictments, but when U.S. Marshals arrested Stamm in Florida they found him in possession of a firearm, which he is unable to own as a convicted felon.
Stamm was sentenced to three years in a Florida prison for carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a weapon under disability. After numerous attempts to prevent extradition, he pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.
On Monday, Judge James Conway sentenced Stamm to the recommended sentence of a three-year prison term to be served at the same time as the one for the weapon-related conviction. He will return to the Florida prison.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tandem Media Network contributed to this story.