INGALLS — After an extensive manhunt for a 14-year-old with weapons, police have charged the teen’s father with neglect.
Jeremiah James Lowder, 37, of Ingalls is charged with Level 6 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and Level 6 felony neglect of a dependent. He appeared in court Thursday for an initial hearing.
A resident flagged down an Ingalls officer around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday to report seeing two people in the park and one of them was carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle, according to an affidavit of probable cause by Sean Waterman of the Ingalls Police Department. The resident said the two people were walking toward a wooded area of the park.
Waterman said while checking the wooded area, which is near Lickcreek Apartments, he received a dispatch to the 300 block of Menden Avenue on a suspicious activity call for a man without a shirt or shoes yelling in the park.
He found Lowder matching the description given by dispatchers near the basketball courts.
“Jeremiah was obviously intoxicated and smelled strongly of alcoholic beverage,” Waterman said in his affidavit.
Lowder told police he was in the park looking for his 14-year-old son. Waterman said he took Lowder back to his residence in the 300 block of South Alfonte Street and helped Lowder and his girlfriend search the residence for the teenager, who was not there.
Waterman asked Lowder if there were any weapons in the home and if his teenage son had access to them and Lowder took him to a closet in his bedroom and said his loaded Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and a Glock 17 9mm were both missing.
A perimeter was set up with Ingalls, Pendleton, Fortville, and Lapel police departments along with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department to search for the teen. Madison County Emergency Management responded with an infra-red aerial drone, but the tree canopy was too thick to scan.
Anderson Police Department K9 and the Indiana State Police Air units also offered to assist in the search.
After the search began, Lowder told police he and his girlfriend had argued earlier in the day and the teenager left scared.
Around 4:13 a.m. officers returned to Lowder’s home who told him his father lived next door, according to the affidavit. When Waterman made contact with the teenager’s grandfather they were told the teen and the firearms were inside.
“Officers found a Glock 17 9 mm and Bushmaster AR-15 rifle with the safety in the fire position and both were found loaded,” Waterman said in his affidavit. “Also found was an extra loaded 30 round AR-15 magazine.”
The teen said he was sleeping when he heard his father and girlfriend arguing and she had left. He told police that the next thing he knew his father came to get him to go find the girlfriend.
According to the affidavit, Lowder is accused of grabbing the guns and taking his teenager to the park to look for his girlfriend. The teenager told police that while they were in the park his father gave him the rifle and then left him alone to run off toward the Dollar General store.
Waterman said the Indiana Department of Child Services was contacted and Lowder told the case manger that “he could have” given the teen the weapons.
“Earlier Jeremiah had mentioned to officers that he had ‘a lot to drink’ today,” Waterman said in his affidavit.
Lowder was then arrested and transported to the Madison County Jail.