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Hand County Officials Relieved At Heasley Capture

October 29, 2003, 9:50 PM by Scott Thorson

Jason Heasley's capture lifted tension off people in Hand County, where he was arrested earlier this month after a high-speed chase. But after Heasley's jail escape, there were two reports of him in the Miller area, and that was enough to change the way the town lives.

No one knew what Heasley was capable of, but it was clear he would do anything to stay out of jail, whether it meant breaking into homes or leading authorities on a high-speed chase. Officials knew the escaped felon could be armed, and even more dangerous if using meth.

Hand County Sheriff Doug DeBoer helped catch Jason Heasley the first time he was arrested almost a month ago. But after he escaped from a Beadle County jail, DeBoer has been on the lookout for Heasley who was reported in the area twice.

DeBoer says, "We had reports that families were suffering from this anxiety, the kids were being treated differently, slept with their parents at times because or the concerns that this guy was on the loose and he might intrude into their home."

But now the manhunt is over and DeBoer is grateful that Sioux Falls police found Heasley in an attic. "Whoever the officer was that displayed the courage to stick his head up there and see this for the first time is a friend of mine even though I don't know him. I mean that's a courageous thing to do especially in light of how dangerous we think Jason Heasley was."

Authorities in Huron are also pleased that Heasley is once again behind bars.

Jim Sheridan, Beadle County Chief Deputy, says, "Well obviously it's a relief to us because he escaped from our facility, but I'm glad he's in custody for the public's safety."

With Heasley wanted in at least four counties, authorities aren't sure where he'll stand trial first. But DeBoer hopes that Heasley will first go to court in Hand County, where authorities say Heasley and his girlfriend produced meth and burglarized area businesses.

DeBoer says, "And now that he's in custody I think people are going to be able to sit back, they're gonna relax, they're gonna leave the lights on, on the outside for trick or treaters not for security."

Heasley was also wanted in Minnehaha, Kingsbury and Beadle Counties, as well as one in central Iowa.

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