Jackson County authorities are shown escorting 30-year-old Kenneth Conrad Sims, into the ER at Holzer Medical Center - Jackson to be checked out following the manhunt incident and his capture. (Telegram Photo by Jeremiah Shaver)
Jackson County authorities are shown escorting 30-year-old Kenneth Conrad Sims, into the ER at Holzer Medical Center - Jackson to be checked out following the manhunt incident and his capture. (Telegram Photo by Jeremiah Shaver)

An early-morning traffic stop on East Main Street in Jackson turned into a manhunt after a male suspect fled on foot from law enforcement. Nearly five hours later, authorities were able to capture and arrest Kenneth Conrad Sims, 30, of Kalamazoo County, MI.

The manhunt began around 3 a.m. on Friday, May 13, when an officer with the Jackson Police Department initialed a traffic stop on a male subject, who was driving down Main Street in the City of Jackson. The officer had previously observed the subject make a minor traffic violation as well as litter from his motor vehicle. The officer initialed a traffic stop on Main Street in front of The Evans Center, and made contact with the driver, (Kenneth) Sims.

Sims did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the stop. The officer also called for some backup law enforcement because Sims had reportedly thrown a blunt of marijuana onto the ground right near the officer. Backup units from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to the scene.

Officers had Sims exit the vehicle, while the law enforcement officers searched the vehicle. In the trunk, the officers located a jar of marijuana that appeared to be more than personal use, and a loaded 9mm handgun.

Sims, according to authorities was currently on parole, so the officer was going to take him into custody for further investigation. The officer was able to get one of Sims’ hands cuffed, but he spun and pulled away from the officer and fled. He fled into the City of Jackson, and authorities gave chase, while others held down the scene.

Sims eventually made it into a heavily wooded area. He was labeled as “dangerous” as he reportedly has a violent felony history.

Law enforcement was able to secure a perimeter in the area of State Route 139 to Burlington Road, and Holzer Medical Center - Jackson, to Jackson High School.

As a result of the search area, the Jackson City School District was put on a two-hour delay, and later closed. The search prompted Holzer Medical Center – Jackson (hospital) to go into a lockdown mode as well.

Waverly resident Stephanie Leightey, an employee of Holzer Health System, was at least one person who actually spotted Sims during his escape. She told The Telegram that at approximately at 5:40 a.m., she was turning into the parking lot of the hospital from Burlington Road when he saw a man (who turned out to be Sims) running in front of her vehicle onto the hospital’s back lot. He continued running away from her in a westerly direction back off the lot and into an adjacent wooded area. Law enforcement officers came on the scene minutes later and Leightey was able to point them in the fugitive’s last direction. It was in that very area he was later apprehended.

Thanks to a police aviation unit (helicopter), law enforcement knew Sims was inside the perimeter. However, Sims continued to evade law enforcement while inside that perimeter.

The police aviation unit was a “game changer,” says Jackson Police Chief Brett Hinsch, because officers in the air were able to give real-time locations of Sims while the ground units closed in the area of about a square mile.

“Mr. Sims was taken into custody finally around 8:23 a.m.,” said Chief Hinsch. “The traffic stop was around 3 a.m., so five hours later he’s in custody.”

Sims was brought out of the wooded area by law enforcement near the backside of the Holzer hospital near the helipad. He (Sims) was taken inside the ER at Holzer Medical Center - Jackson to be checked out following the incident.

“Sims has been running through thick brush with thorns, sticks, bugs and he was barefoot without a shirt at the time he was taken into custody,” said Chief Hinsch. “He (Sims) had minor cuts from being in the wooded area.”

Chief Hinsch noted, “No use of force had to be used to take Sims into custody.”

Responding to the scene were units from the Jackson Police Department, Wellston Police Department, Oak Hill Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Jackson County Municipal Court Probation Department.

“We appreciate everyone,” said Chief Hinsch. “This was an all-hands-on deck and I mean that. Every agency in Jackson County assisted in safely capturing Sims.”

Jackson Mayor Randy Evans and Jackson Service/Safety Director David Swackhammer gave their support of all city services if law enforcement needed them during the incident.

“This is what we do… to keep our community safe,” stated Chief Hinsch. “I feel like we have done that today, and really done that without incident.”

Chief Hinsch said, “We caused quite a stir, but everyone is safe and that makes a happy day for us.”

The Jackson Police Department will be reviewing charges from the incident with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office as they further investigate.

Note: Telegram Editor Pete Wilson contributed to this story.