December 19, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville man found dead had likely been spotted earlier

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Police said Wednesday that a man who was seen passed out by a light pole on Mills Creek Lane on Monday night likely was the same man whose body was discovered at a nearby Mills Road address the next morning.

“We can’t say with absolute certainty that this unknown person was the same man, but it probably was the same person,” North Ridgeville police Capt. Marti Garrow said Wednesday.

Police found the body of James C. Hartman, 31, after being notified by a caller just before 9 a.m. Tuesday that someone was lying on the lawn of a Mills Road home near White Pine Way.

Garrow said Hartman was wearing black clothing, as was the man who was spotted lying near a light pole by the son of a Mills Creek Lane resident on Monday evening.

“We got a call at 6:08 p.m. from a person who said he saw a white male dressed in black passed out by a light pole in front of a garage,” Garrow said.

The homeowner and his son spoke with the man to see if he needed any help, Garrow said, but they were rebuffed.

The man became argumentative, Garrow said.

“He told them to mind their own business,” Garrow said. “At that point, the man (resident) called police and went inside and locked the doors.”

An officer arrived about 6:15 p.m. and talked twice with the homeowner, after which the patrolman began searching the neighborhood for the man.

“He was last seen going east of the intersection of Mills Road and Mills Creek Lane,” Garrow said. “Our officer spent a good 10 minutes canvassing the area looking for this subject but didn’t locate him.”

Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said Hartman showed no outward signs of having suffered any trauma, and that there were no initial indications that the man’s death was due to foul play or suicide.

Evans, who could not be reached Wednesday, has said that a cause of death would be determined from an autopsy and results of toxicology and blood tests.

Hartman had grown up in North Ridgeville and moved away for a time before returning to the area, police said.

Police found Hartman’s body about 300 feet west of the spot where the unknown male was reported the night before, Garrow said. The proximity and the similarity in clothing make it likely that it was Hartman in the earlier incident, he said.

“It was probably the same person wearing the same clothing, who had moved from one spot to another,” Garrow said. “This is regrettable, but we feel our officer did more than an adequate job for that type of call. Usually by the time we get there in such cases, the person is long gone.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.