After a Sylvania man shot an intruder inside his Williamsburg Drive home last month, what appeared to be a case of self-defense became clouded by the discovery of 200 potted marijuana plants in the basement, some waist-high.
Now, police say the pieces of the bizarre burglary-shooting-drug case appear to be falling together.
Two people suspected of being involved in the home invasion Aug. 28 were arrested Monday, and Sylvania police were seeking a third suspect who they believe forced the back door open and entered the home of Clay Hausenfleck with Louis M. Mason. Mr. Mason, 28, was shot twice in the back inside the Hausenfleck home.
Sylvania Police Chief Gerald Sobb said at a news conference yesterday that investigators believe the foursome had planned the break-in with the intent of stealing the drugs they allegedly knew were inside. Investigators said all four suspects were carrying guns.
"It is my understanding that they had been working on this awhile and the intent, as we suspected since that first night, was the marijuana growing in the basement of the house," Chief Sobb said. "They were certainly aware there was drugs in the house."
Sylvania police arrested Billy D. Wilkinson, 33, at his home at 5123 Ryan Rd. about 9 a.m. Monday on a charge of aggravated burglary. Julie Britton, 25, of 2345 Saint Roberts Lane was arrested Monday evening at her boyfriend's house and charged with complicity to aggravated burglary.
Sylvania Municipal Court Judge M. Scott Ramey set bond at $250,000 for each of them during a video arraignment from the Lucas County jail yesterday.
Police are seeking Ms. Britton's boyfriend, David A. Irving, 31, of 3907 Bancroft St., on a charge of aggravated burglary.
It remains unclear how the suspects knew Mr. Hausenfleck. Sylvania Police Detective Laura Bliss said only that there was "a personal connection between the homeowner and some of the suspects who [allegedly] committed the burglary."
Mr. Hausenfleck, who was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury for possession of marijuana and trafficking in marijuana, told the 911 operator that he shot a masked intruder after hearing someone break into his house.
When officers arrived, they found Mr. Mason dead from two gunshots. Mr. Hausenfleck was still holding his gun, while another gun that did not belong to the homeowner was found on the floor near Mr. Mason's body, Chief Sobb said.
Detective Bliss said she didn't know if Mr. Mason had drawn his gun before he was shot.
"I don't think we could accurately answer that from the evidence at the scene," she said.
Detective Bliss said investigators believe both Mr. Mason and Irving had entered the house, while Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Britton were "in close proximity to the residence." Nothing apparently was taken, Detective Bliss said, because of the short time lapse between the break-in and the shooting.
She said it appeared the burglars knew Mr. Hausenfleck was at home and came prepared for a confrontation over the drugs they allegedly intended to steal.
"It would stand to reason that if they intended to commit an armed burglary, that they are expecting some sort of a fight," Detective Bliss said.
After Mr. Mason was shot, Irving and the two other suspects fled, Chief Sobb said.
Detective Sgt. Rick Schnoor said it's standard practice to clear and secure a residence after a break-in, and officers who responded to the scene searched the home shortly after arriving. They found the marijuana plants growing in the basement.
Mr. Hausenfleck, who is being held in the Lucas County jail on $50,000 bond related to the drug charges, has not been charged in connection with the shooting.
Sergeant Schnoor said it will be up to the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office to determine whether the case should be presented to a grand jury for possible charges. He said they are awaiting the final coroner's report.
Meanwhile, Chief Sobb said police are "working diligently to restore a perception of safety" in the usually quiet neighborhood where the break-in and shooting occurred. He said he's talked with homeowners and made sure marked police cars regularly patrol the neighborhood.
The people who live there, he said, should feel as safe as they did before all of this happened.
"The reason those people were at that house that night - that stuff is in the ... property room. The element that brought those people into that neighborhood is gone," Chief Sobb said, referring to the marijuana plants that were sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Irving is asked to contact Sylvania police at 419-885-8900 or Crime Stoppers at 419-255-1111. Police said he is considered armed and dangerous.
Court records show he was released from prison earlier this year for burglary, breaking and entering, and complicity to burglary convictions from Lucas County.
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