Columbia County releases illegal train riders

Friday, April 26, 2013 10:58 AM
Last updated Saturday, April 27, 2013 1:45 AM
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Six vagabonds caught illegally riding a freight train last month have been released after serving 38 days in jail.

Some of the travelers picked up last month in Grovetown after being discovered illegally riding a CSX train reunited Tuesday at the Columbia County Detention Center with their dogs, which had been kept at Columbia County Animal Services pending their release. Pictured are Jo Ann Heilberg (left); Jay Willard (center, kneeling), with Raleigh; Heather Bermudez (standing); William Jackson (right, kneeling), with Sheila; and Megan Tuck, with Ami.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Some of the travelers picked up last month in Grovetown after being discovered illegally riding a CSX train reunited Tuesday at the Columbia County Detention Center with their dogs, which had been kept at Columbia County Animal Services pending their release. Pictured are Jo Ann Heilberg (left); Jay Willard (center, kneeling), with Raleigh; Heather Bermudez (standing); William Jackson (right, kneeling), with Sheila; and Megan Tuck, with Ami.


The six were arrested March 16 by CSX Railroad police when caught in Grovetown aboard a freight train they’d hopped in Atlanta, en route to St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Savannah. They didn’t post their $1,100 bonds and were held in the Columbia County Detention Center until their court date Tuesday.

William Robert Jackson, 26, of Graham, Wash.; Dennis James Kist, 24, of Okeana, Ohio; Jayson Arthur Willard, 23, of Williamston, Mich.; Megan Rose Tuck, 23, of Fort Worth, Texas; Jo Ann Heilberg, 23, of Florida; and Heather Bermudez, 22, of New Hampshire, were charged with hiding on a train for the purpose of stealing a ride, a misdemeanor. All were listed as homeless.
All pleaded guilty at the Tuesday hearing at the courthouse in Evans except Jackson and Tuck, who entered pleas of no contest. Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. sentenced each to the time served in jail since their arrest.

The six were reunited with four dogs that were traveling with them that had been kept at Columbia County Animal Services, Animal Services Manager Linda Glasscock said.

“The reunion between them was wonderful, it really was,” she said. “The dogs knew who they were and came running out of the gate and just jumped on them. ”

The pets were cared for with several donations from the community, and Glasscock said she’s been told to expect a donation from the family of one of the travelers.

When inmates are released and are listed as homeless or otherwise have no local friends, family or accommodations, deputies seek help from the Salvation Army, according to jailers. It is not known whether the train-jumpers received such assistance.

Glasscock said it’s her understanding that the travelers stayed at least one night in an Augusta hotel and since have been seen panhandling in Richmond County.

Staff Writer Barry L. Paschal contributed to this report.

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GiantsAllDay
8219
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/26/13 - 12:15 pm
7
1

38 days, thank god almighty,

38 days, thank god almighty, justice was served!!!! I think DUI's stay about 6-10 hours.

Just My Opinion
4715
Points
Just My Opinion 04/26/13 - 12:18 pm
7
8

Okay, I know I might get some

Okay, I know I might get some grief about this, but hear me out.
The police did exactly what we expected them to do, and arrested these folks for breaking a law. But this is one of those situations where these "vagabonds" had to spend several weeks in jail, being fed and taken care of. Now they get released and we have to put up with them panhandling and annoying people doing so. After their release, the police should've just put them out in the furthest, most desolate point of the county...right on the county line! Let them vaga their bonds in some other county!
Oh, and I do hope that they and their "vagahounds" stay safe!

InChristLove
21972
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InChristLove 04/26/13 - 12:21 pm
9
0

I have to agree with GAD,

I have to agree with GAD, (get up off the floor GAD). Only good that came from this was these 6 were provided a bed to sleep in out of the weather, 3 meals a day, and a place to take a shower. I have no problem punishing people for breaking the law but 38 days for jumping a train?

Mr. Thackeray
766
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Mr. Thackeray 04/26/13 - 12:26 pm
7
0

Borders on cruel & unusual

Borders on cruel & unusual punishment WAY too long for so minor a crime.

GiantsAllDay
8219
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GiantsAllDay 04/26/13 - 12:49 pm
11
0

ICL, you are a good egg. I've

ICL, you are a good egg. I've always thought that. Anyway, 6 people X $1100 bond = $6600. 6 people X 38 days = 228 person-days. How much per day does it cost to house an inmate? I don't know, but say its $75. That's $17,100. Once it became clear that they were not going to post bond, why didn't they just move up the court date and cut them loose then? Would have saved the taxpayer lots of $$$.

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 01:27 pm
3
5

gad

I doubt it cost that much to feed them. The jail was already there and staffed. Hopefully they didn't need medical care. Don't play with the numbers.

InChristLove
21972
Points
InChristLove 04/26/13 - 01:29 pm
4
1

Thanks GAD....as oppose to a

Thanks GAD....as oppose to a bad egg :)

Hopefully some of the Christian ministries downtown will help these young people be on their way. I'd say provide living assistances and maybe some job opportunities but most time hobos are not interested in planting their feet any one place for very long. Since they missed the St. Patrick's Day festival in Savannah, wonder which way they head next.

InChristLove
21972
Points
InChristLove 04/26/13 - 01:38 pm
9
1

I don't know KSL....when you

I don't know KSL....when you figure in all the cost...(water, electricity, 3 meals, laundry service, security, etc) When you break it down bit by bit, $75 per day doesn't sound unreasonable. Say even $50/day, that's $11,400. Either way you look at it, seems like an unnecessary cost.

JustSpeakingMyMind
153
Points
JustSpeakingMyMind 04/26/13 - 01:58 pm
10
0

Actually the national average

Actually the national average to house an inmate is $60 per day! Lot of money we shelled out. Would have been cheaper to buy them a train ticket to anywhere they wanted to go.

nocnoc
31231
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nocnoc 04/26/13 - 02:31 pm
2
0

For vagabonds

the name does not match the picture for 3 for them.

KSL
106516
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KSL 04/26/13 - 02:30 pm
2
6

Most of those costs are fixed

Most of those costs are fixed and would be occurring whether their cells were occupied or not. That is my point. Yes, their 18 extra meals a day, extra water and perhaps extra electricity added to the expense of housing them. I don't know how the lights work in jail, having never been to jail. But you aren't suggesting money was spent on extra security for these people, are you?

nocnoc
31231
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nocnoc 04/26/13 - 02:32 pm
6
0

We have shop lifters that

We have shop lifters that serve less time

than these Train riders.

KSL
106516
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KSL 04/26/13 - 02:36 pm
2
6

Or that they were fed filet

Or that they were fed filet mignon?

KSL
106516
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KSL 04/26/13 - 02:50 pm
2
5

hmmmmmm

"Glasscock said she’s been told to expect an additional donation from the family of one of the travelers."

Read between the lines. Donation to the animal shelter vs bail.

KSL
106516
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KSL 04/26/13 - 02:52 pm
2
4

Panhandling. I hope no one is

Panhandling. I hope no one is giving them money and they will soon move on.

Riverman1
70979
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Riverman1 04/26/13 - 03:11 pm
7
0

Jack in Titanic

The deputies should have driven them to the railroad tracks in McDuffie County and let them go. They remind me of what Jack said in Titanic when he was at the table with the snooty people:

"I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count."

specsta
5787
Points
specsta 04/26/13 - 03:33 pm
6
1

Shameful

What a complete waste of taxpayer dollars and a violation of their rights under the Eight Amendment - "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted".

There are people who commit violent acts against others who serve less time.

InChristLove
21972
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InChristLove 04/26/13 - 04:15 pm
4
1

KSL, I wasn't implying that

KSL, I wasn't implying that they had extra security, only that a portion of the guards salary could be contributed to the job of securing these 6 people and I don't know how you got the opinion about filet mignon. Even when you buy food in bulk and divide the cost per inmate, feeding them is not cheap. Even though the jail has to heat/cool/lights/water whether you have one inmate or 20 inmates, the contributing cost needs to be divided evenly (IMO).

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 04:29 pm
2
5

In my opinion, the county did

In my opinion, the county did not spend an extra 17,000 or 11,000 to keep them in jail. I agree, for accounting purposes, you can attribute those costs to them being in jail, but I hardly think the county would have all of the savings as extra, unspent funds lying around had they not been incarcerated for a portion of that time.

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 04:43 pm
2
5

What I am saying is that I

What I am saying is that I doubt that those 6 literally cost the county the money that gad implied when he compared $6600 to $17,100. In other words, the county did not spend $11,000 that they would not have had they not been locked up.

InChristLove
21972
Points
InChristLove 04/26/13 - 05:14 pm
6
0

That is probably true KSL but

That is probably true KSL but one thing we know for sure.....since the county didn't collect a dime the $6600 bail money, they sure spent more than they received.

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 05:49 pm
2
3

ICL

The county doesn't get the money. You pay the money, get out on bond, show up for court, you get the money back.

GiantsAllDay
8219
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/26/13 - 06:15 pm
5
1

Riverman, KSL, ICL

There's a part of me that is envious of these individuals. People who march to the beat of a different drummer as long as they cause no harm. I'm too old to participate in such activities; I played the role of Mr. Establishment for too many years. But I like people who don't necessarily do something just because society says they should. Anybody who makes people born with sticks up their butts nervous. You may or may not agree and you may think I'm crazy, I don't know. Having said that, if these folks are healthy (mentally and physically) and panhandling--I am totally against that. They should be doing this using only their own devices.

InChristLove
21972
Points
InChristLove 04/26/13 - 06:21 pm
5
1

My error KSL...don't know how

My error KSL...don't know how bond money works...never had to worry about it but either way, it cost the county more money than what it was worth to keeps these 6 for over a month in jail than necessary....but that's just my opinion.

nocnoc
31231
Points
nocnoc 04/26/13 - 07:03 pm
7
0

Average cost per imate in jail

$100-$125 per day per inmate
using $110 a day x 6 inmates = $660 per day
$660 times 30 days = $19,800

I heard here before it is about $5 per day per animal PLUS SHOTS.
$150 per dog PLUS SHOTS x 4 = $600 Plus about $100 est. in shots for the four.

Final realistic estimated cost to make CSX happy:
$19800 Jail + $700 dogs = $20,500.00 Taxpayer cost.

CSX injury or loss ZERO.

Taxpayer loss.$20,500.00

==================

May I suggest a $150 fine or 4 days picking up highway trash in the future?

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 07:09 pm
2
3

Understand, icl

I was hired to serve as Clerk of Court in Aiken County several decades ago to fill in temporarily. I worked with all of the magistrates, law enforcement officers, and the Solicitor. It was an enlightening experience.

GiantsAllDay
8219
Points
GiantsAllDay 04/26/13 - 07:12 pm
4
1

NocNoc

I'm not sure that this is all on CSX. I think Columbia county is making a statement saying they don't have the same problem as Richmond county--WE HAVE PLENTY OF ROOM IN OUR JAIL. In fact, we are looking for business. Cops do have wide latitude on whether or not to take someone to jail. I know of cops who would checked for warrants and then cut them loose with a warning, "don't ever want to see you around here again". Then there are other cops who come home to dinner and brag to his wife and kids about how many people he put in jail today. Anyway, if I ever get caught spitting on the sidewalk, I hope it's in Richmond county and not Columbia.

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 07:16 pm
3
4

nocnoc

You are manipulating numbers too. I agree with your suggestion of punishment, but Cola County is not out that amount of money anymore than their current budget provided for.

KSL
106516
Points
KSL 04/26/13 - 07:22 pm
3
4

Especially if arrests go

Especially if arrests go down, with fewer crimes being committed.

nocnoc
31231
Points
nocnoc 04/26/13 - 07:28 pm
4
0

Agreed KSL,BUDGETED Yes, but

Agreed KSL,
BUDGETED Yes, but still them being there added to those costs that could have been avoided in so many ways and would have saved taxpayers.

So I have to ask is Columbia Co. so Buford T. Justice hard nosed that it has to set examples to scare Augusta types?

Or may it was to get the inmate numbers up in such a quiet county to justify the budget?

If so either way that is not justice.

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