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Man who fled from bailiffs found under car and barefoot

September 22, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After being fingerprinted for theft and forgery charges, a man escaped from bailiffs at Berkeley County Magistrate Court Tuesday afternoon, but was found nearby minutes later barefoot and hiding underneath a parked car, according to court officials.

Jason Scott Hartwick, 27, of 219 Surrey Court, Martinsburg, was arraigned on two counts of forgery, two counts of uttering and one count of second-offense petit larceny after he was caught.

Bailiffs Joe Miller and Teresa Gibbons brought Hartwick back from Baltimore County on Tuesday morning on active fugitive warrants for the charges, Miller said.

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Miller said he filled out paperwork and took Hartwick's fingerprints, then allowed him to use a bathroom at Magistrate Court to clean the ink off his hands.

Handcuffs that had been on Hartwick's wrists had been removed during the fingerprinting process, Miller said.

Hartwick ran out of the bathroom and left the building through a side door, Miller said.

"He was running like a deer," Miller said.

Miller ran after the man and used his police radio to give fellow officers the man's description and the area where he was last seen. Police converged on the area in cars and on foot.

Lt. Sam Talley of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department and C. Mark Hofe, chief probation officer for the 23rd Judicial Circuit, found Hartwick hiding under a car parked behind Trinity Episcopal Church, at the corner of King and College streets, Hofe said.

The church, which is the site of Norborne Preschool and Day Care Center, is about a block away from Magistrate Court.

Hofe, whose office is on the second floor of the Magistrate Court building, said he and Talley decided to search the area around the church because no other officers seemed to have looked there.

Although both were carrying guns, neither had to draw their weapon on Hartwick after Talley spotted him underneath the car, Hofe said.

"He was like this," Hofe said, his arms spread outward as he described Hartwick's position in the small space beneath the car. "He had no shoes left by the time we found him."

Once Hartwick was back in custody, police put handcuffs on his wrists and shackles on his ankles. He was wearing no shoes or socks, black athletic shorts and a gray T-shirt stained with a black substance that looked to be grease or oil.

The petit larceny charge stemmed from an incident at Kmart in Martinsburg on April 24 when 34 DVDs worth more than $630 were stolen from the store, court records state.

The forgery and uttering charges stemmed from an incident on May 4 when two personal checks, totaling $286.76, were forged and used at a Food Lion grocery store on U.S. 11. A woman's name had been forged on both checks, records state.

Miller said he and his fellow bailiff had no problems bringing Hartwick back from Baltimore County earlier in the day.

"He was just as nice as could be," Miller said.

The incident was the first time a person in custody has escaped from Miller.

"It's going to be the last one, too. From now on, they'll be shackled," he said.

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