LIMA — Two local men facing charges of kidnapping, extortion and robbery were scheduled to be arraigned this morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Jeffery Fails, 29, and Justin Meeks, 29, were indicted by the March session of grand jury on the multiple charges after allegedly assaulting a student at the University of Northwestern Ohio and then driving him to an ATM machine, where they demanded he “drain his account” and turn the money over to his assailants.
According to court records, police were dispatched in the early-morning hours of Feb. 5 to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s to speak with a James Featherstone, who had been involved the previous day in a hit-skip traffic accident in the 2900 block of Allentown Road. During that time, hospital officials alerted police to two individuals of interest who were in the emergency room at the hospital. Those persons were later identified as Fails and Meeks.
Featherstone told police that on Feb. 4 he was traveling on Allentown Road and failed to stop within the assured clear distance, striking the rear of a white Mercury Mountaineer. Featherstone said he approached the vehicle but was told to “get out of here.”
Featherstone said he later drove to UNOH, where he is a student, and once again encountered the white Mountaineer. He told police a black male exited the vehicle and approached his pick-up truck before assaulting him and forcing him out of his vehicle and into the Mountaineer. A second black male then got into Featherstone’s truck and both vehicles traveled to a Speedway gas station on North Cable Road. The assailants ordered Featherstone to go into the gas station and remove money from an ATM machine. Featherstone told police he withdrew $60 from his account and gave it to the men, along with $25 from his wallet. The assailants then allowed Featherstone to leave unharmed, he told police.
Later that same day Fails and Meeks were found to be involved in another hit-skip accident in front of Buffalo Wild Wings. After reviewing surveillance videos from UNOH, Speedway and Buffalo Wild Wings, police found evidence to support Featherstone’s allegations. Police questioned Fails and Meeks and both were arrested.
The kidnapping charges are first-degree felonies, while the robbery charges are second-degree felonies. Extortion is a third-degree felony.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.