The Story - 2005-02-19 21:07:50
By Tom Grose, Press staff writer.

Warrants charging Billy E. Hardesty with three murders and two attempted murders have been issues following a shooting spree yesterday.

Two warrants for assault with intent to commit murder were issued this morning; three murder warrants were issued Thursday. So far no warrants have been issued in the deaths of his mother, Janelle, 41, and father, Ronald, 43. Both were found shot in the family’s home at 49630 Martz, Van Buren Township. Mrs. Hardesty was found in the bedroom yesterday after Hardesty barricaded himself in the home and exchanged shots with officers from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and Ypsilanti and State police before giving himself up, wounded by police fire in the shoulder and abdomen.

Ronald Hardesty was nor found until around 3:30 p.m. State Police Crime Lab officers discovered him stuffed into a locker-type freezer and covered with frozen food.

Hardesty is charged with the early Thursday morning shooting deaths of Daniel E. Wood, 38, of 50160 Geddes, Canton Township; Troy Curry, 28, of 51074 Mott, Canton Township, and Timothy Schofield, 22, of Belleville.

The warrants issued today involved the critical wounding of Bobby J. Baker, 26, of Westland and Tommy L. Brown, about 22, of Tecumseh. Both Baker and Brown are in St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Brown in serious condition and Baker in fair.

Curry and Schofield were found, fatally shot, at Abigail’s Dirty Shame Saloon, 327 E. Michigan. Wood, Baker, and Brown were hours later at an Ypsilanti Township machine shop, Stiles-Wood Corporation and Associated Boring Co., 1585 Beverly.

Hardesty remains hospitalized in St. Joe’s in fair condition, under guard by sheriff’s deputies.

Police today say they are at a loss for a motive. Reports that Hardesty was “high on valium and alcohol” remain unconfirmed. Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Patrick Little said today, until test results on blood samples taken from Hardesty are received.

Both Little and State Police Lt. Robert Pifer said Hardesty did not appear intoxicated when he surrendered.

However, Little said, Hardesty’s alleged murders seemed “planned and dedicated.”

”I don’t think he’s just crazy,” said Little. “I have the feeling he intended to do what he allegedly did.”

Little added that to move to all the locations he reportedly went to during his seven-hour shooting spree, he had to make some rational decisions. He also “made some pretty rational statements to witnesses,” Little said.

All of Hardesty’s movements Wednesday night and Thursday morning are still in doubt. But from working with various police sources and witnesses, the following seems likely.

Hardesty, Curry, and Schofield were at Abigail’s from sometime Wednesday night until around 2 a.m. Thursday. Hardesty apparently argued with the men, who he had known for awhile, and the argument was carried outside into the parking lot.

While in the lot, witnesses have told police, Hardesty went to the Pinto he was driving, took out a .22-caliber rifle and shot each man. Curry was again shot in the head by Hardesty, witnesses said, before he fled in the Pinto.

Sometime between 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., Hardesty visited the Canton Township home of his former father-in-law, Elmer Wood, the father of both victim Donald Wood and Paula Wood, Hardesty’s ex-wife.

Police are unsure what Hardesty did, but after leaving Wood’s home, but between 4 and 4:30 a.m., he arrived at Stiles-Wood, where he reportedly killed Donald Wood and wounded Baker and Brown. He also discarded the Pinto there and fled in another car, found later at his home.

It was during this time Ypsilanti police, working with witnesses’ statements, tentatively identified Hardesty as the suspect in the Abigail’s murders.

Elmer Wood found his son and the others at around 6:30 a.m. and called the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputy Ernie Milligan arrived at Stiles-Wood first and was told by one of the wounded that Hardesty had shot them.

Sheriff’s detectives then knew they were looking for the same man as Ypsilanti police, after comparing reports.

Eight officers from the sheriff’s department and Ypsilanti and State police converged on the Hardesty home around 7:15 a.m., not so much to look for him as to question his parents.

However, it was Hardesty they found there. While on the porch officers repeatedly heard loud music and the sound of someone racking a shell into a rifle chamber. They began to take cover as Hardesty yelled out that he was armed.

Officers were pinned down in the front yard when Hardesty came onto the front porch and fired. The officers returned the fire, and an undetermined number of shots hit Hardesty in the shoulder and abdomen before he backed inside the house.

From in side the house, Hardesty kept firing until Ypsilanti Detective Steve Levinski ran to a neighbor’s home and tried calling him on the phone. Hardesty refused to answer. Minutes later, Sheriff’s Detective William Gillis finally succeeded in getting Hardesty to talk on the phone.

Around 8:30 a.m., Hardesty agreed to give up but told police he was so wounded he could not walk. Eventually, he crawled out the front door and collapsed.
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lynne - 2005-02-19 22:51:50
woo, that was just about a block from my house. guess the neighborhood used to be kinda rough. well, on that night anyways.
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Laura - 2005-02-19 23:00:35
Yikes. Yes, it sounds pretty rough to me. I'm wondering if that bar is still standing.
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