Sullivan County Sheriffs Department Photo
JOHN GARDNER, AN area resident for some time allegedly led police on a chase lasting for over six hours, before turning himself in peacefully, in the Town of Delaware.
Felon turns himself in
By Jeanne Sager
HORTONVILLE It had been a week since their car was stolen right out of their Callicoon driveway.
So imagine Teb Fink’s surprise when he glanced in his rearview mirror Tuesday morning and saw his wife’s Jeep Cherokee in the lane behind him, lights flashing.
At the wheel was a man who lead police on a six-hour search through the woods after Fink and his son made their call to 911.
He was trying to pass their pick-up truck in a no-passing zone near Swan Lake.
Trying to follow their car which disappeared in the hours after the family went to bed on the night of May 27 the Finks lost the tail in the Jeffersonville area.
It was picked up by two state police investigators who noticed a vehicle fitting the description of the stolen car driving across a field.
“They followed it over hill, over dale, back out into the road,” said NYS Police Senior Investigator Mike Orrego.
The suspect, John Gardner, 27, allegedly crashed the car and took off on foot, eluding the investigators but ending up in the sights of a Sheriff’s deputy heading home after his shift had ended.
Det. Cpl. Jeffrey Sattler saw Gardner hiding near the intersection of Route 17B and Lux Road halfway to Hortonville.
But when he pulled his weapon and told Gardner to freeze, Orrego said the 27-year-old ignored the gun and took off.
“Now the search is on,” Orrego continued.
K-9 units were called in from the NYS Police, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the NYS Conservation Police, and the state police sent a helicopter into the air to scan the heavily wooded areas of Hortonville.
“It took awhile, even utilizing the helicopter, you can’t see through those thick trees,” Orrego noted.
By then, Orrego said the police were able to identify their suspect Gardner, a convicted felon who spent four years in Attica.
Among his charges was a class E felony grand larceny of an automobile in the fourth degree.
Raised in the Hortonville area, Gardner had a sister living in the hamlet.
That’s where police found him Tuesday evening around 6 p.m. more than six hours after the search began.
In the interim, Orrego said Gardner had broken into a home on Boettger Road, switching his clothes with a set he stole from the homeowner.
Gardner surrendered peacefully at his sister’s apartment and was arraigned down the street in the Town of Delaware Justice Court in front of Justice H. John Kramer.
Remanded to Sullivan County Jail without bail, Gardner has been charged with burglary in the second degree, a violent felony; criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree; and resisting arrest.
More charges are expected as the investigation continues.
As for the Finks, their car has been recovered although it’s been damaged, police were able to drive it back to the barracks in Liberty.