Man who fled from police custody gets prison term

Cary Ashby • Mar 8, 2014 at 6:07 AM

A former Wakeman resident is serving one year in prison for escaping the custody of an officer.

Neil D. Hembree, 37, of Lorain, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted escape and was sentenced immediately afterward in Huron County Common Pleas Court.

Hembree's conviction is for a Dec. 22 incident when a Wakeman officer was walking him through a residence in the Riverview Mobile Home Park. The officer was doing a theft investigation and looking for a female subject.

"She was a suspect in the theft case," Chief Tim Hunker said Wednesday. "Mr. Hembree happened to be there. He gave his brother's information."

Police determined Hembree gave them bogus information about his identity.

"He was in cuffs and got away from the officer," said Hunker, who added that it was "pitch black dark" at the time.

Huron County Public Defender David Longo provided some information on the incident when Hembree was arraigned Feb. 3. Longo said the handcuffed defendant was allowed to smoke a cigarette and "took off running."

"Tips led police into Firelands Manor in Wakeman Township, where a couple attempted to lie to the police, but then later changed their story," Hunker said.

The Huron County Sheriff's Office assisted with searching the mobile home park, but Hembree remained at large.

Hunker said Hembree went from Riverview to the Firelands mobile home and then got a ride to a Gore Orphanage Road residence, where he stayed with a friend. Lorain County sheriff's deputies assisted Hunker and a Wakeman officer with looking for Hembree at the residence, but they determined he wasn't there.

"According to the roommates, the police had just missed him. This was definitely a situation where we needed to locate Hembree before he had (gone) back to Lorain. Hembree is known to be a serious heroin user and was desperate. We were later told that he had painted his face with camouflage paint and mud in an attempt to hide in the woods," Hunker said soon after the search.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, Hembree was arrested on two felony warrants in Vermilion.

Police coordinated with Vermilion officers in finding the defendant.

"Wakeman and Vermilion officers were able to set up on Lake Road and wait for Hembree to come through the city. He was later observed at a gas station on Lake Road and quickly taken into custody without incident. Hembree was actually shooting himself up with heroin when officers stormed the car," Hunker said.

Officers found the defendant with syringes, suspected heroin paraphernalia and multiple prescription pills. He was taken to the Huron County Jail.

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