CELINA — The Celina Police Department has filed preliminary charges against an Indiana man in connection with the false emergency call placed to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday. The suspect called into Central Dispatch on the Mercer County sheriff’s line to report that a subject had laid a motionless child on the concrete pad by the lighthouse that is located on the NW corner of Grand Lake in Celina. The suspect then called a second time to report that the subject had placed the child in the water and held him down with a rock.
Emergency crews from the Celina Police Department, Celina Fire Department and ODNR responded to the scene. They were later assisted by the Celina Street Department. While nothing at the scene was found to support the original claim made by the caller, a decision was made to check the shoreline, both in and out of the water to insure there was not a victim in the area. While crews were checking for a victim, a video surveillance camera from the Celina Water Treatment Plant was reviewed and it showed that no one was in the area at the time of the call.
Working with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and local telephone companies the Celina officers were able to obtain the telephone number of the original caller, which had been blocked at the time of the call. Upon re-contact, the subject that answered that numbered denied any knowledge of the call to the sheriff’s office and stated he was in the Chicago area. Later in the evening this number was linked to the investigation when the St. Marys subject that was named in the original call as a suspect, identified it as belonging to John Robert "JR" Walsh, 29, of Marion, Ind.
Celina police officers were able to contact Walsh on Thursday. After initial denials, he reportedly admitted to being involved in the false calls. Arrangements were made for him to come to the Celina Police Department for a full interview, but those plans never materialized. The Celina Police Department currently holds a warrant for a first degree misdemeanor charge of making a false alarm. However, due to the monetary costs of the emergency services response it is expected that felony charges may still be filed. Walsh is currently at large, but is subject to arrest if he is located in the state of Ohio.
The Celina Police Department wants to thank all the agencies involved in this incident. Quick action by cooperating agencies limited the loss of taxpayer dollars by determining that the emergency call was indeed a crank. The follow-up investigation conducted over the next 24-hours has led to the identification of a suspect that can be held responsible for the costs that were incurred. Estimates at this time indicate that the total costs to public agencies will be over the $1,000 threshold that would allow a fifth-degree felony to be filed, but less that the $7,500 threshold that would make the charge a fourth-degree felony.