Delphos man incompetent to stand trial for arson

LIMA — Allen County prosecutors on Tuesday laid out their case against a Delphos man they say started fires at two residences owned by family members more than a year ago.

Ross Ladd, 55, had previously been found by clinical experts to be incompetent to stand trial for the two fires at adjacent homes in the 4800 block of North Becker Road in June of 2022. A recent psychiatric evaluation found it unlikely that Ladd’s competency could be restored within the statutory timeline and that continued treatment and confinement in a mental health facility are required.

The hearing Tuesday before Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Terri Kohlrieser was to determine if the state had sufficient evidence to reasonably demonstrate that the Delphos man had caused the blazes.

Kohlrieser determined the state met that threshold and will retain jurisdiction over Ladd.

The Delphos man was indicted by a grand jury in July of 2022 on two counts of aggravated arson, felonies of the second degree. In August the Allen County Public Defenders Office filed a written plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on Ladd’s behalf.

According to court records, deputies from the Allen County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched on the evening of June 6, 2022, to the 4800 block of North Becker Road in reference to a fully-engulfed house fire.

Delphos Police Department Sgt. Mark Evans testified at Tuesday’s hearing that he had responded to the scene and learned that Ross had been discovered by a passerby lying in a ditch near the house fire. Ladd was reported as being intoxicated and having “singed” nose hairs and was taken to Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center for treatment, Evans said.

Detective Russ Hunlock from the Allen County Sheriff’s Office testified that he went to the hospital and observed Ladd with soot on his face and feet. The man was otherwise unresponsive and hospital personnel reported Ladd had been uncooperative, Hunlock said.

Ladd’s sister testified that she had observed, and photographed, notes in the family home that she said were in her brother’s handwriting. Those notes, the woman said, contained troubling phrases including “it’s gonna burn.”

Scott Gelbaugh, an inspector with the state fire marshal’s office, said evidence taken from the scene showed the fires at 4860 and 4830 Becker Road were each intentionally set.

Kohlrieser ordered Ladd to be returned to the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital in Toledo for continued treatment.