Home News High-Speed Chase Suspect Commits Suicide in Pickaway County Jail

High-Speed Chase Suspect Commits Suicide in Pickaway County Jail


Pickaway County, OH – A man taken into custody after a high-speed chase in Pickaway County died several hours later in his jail cell.

On May 25, 2024, around 3:30 PM, the Ohio State Highway Patrol attempted to stop a four-door Honda on US-23 in Pickaway County for a possible road rage incident, turn signal violations, and for crossing marked lanes. When the trooper tried to pull the vehicle over, the driver sped away, initiating a chase that lasted about 30 minutes. The pursuit involved speeds exceeding 100 mph on rural roads such as River Road, Emerson Road, Kingston Pike, Hayesville, and Zane Trail roads. The suspect even drove through farm fields in a desperate attempt to escape.

Law enforcement, including backup from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Pickaway County Sheriff’s Department, and mutual aid from Ross County Sheriff’s Department, eventually stopped the vehicle. The driver, identified as 52-year-old Leon Hettinger, then tried to flee on foot. Officers were forced to tase Hettinger multiple times before successfully arresting him. Hettinger faced several charges, including no seat belt, turn signal violations, speeding, fleeing and eluding, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, OVI, and resisting arrest.

Tragically, a few hours after being taken into custody, Hettinger committed suicide in his jail cell.

Family members reached out to Sciotopost to share the story. Sheriff Hafey, when contacted, described the incident as tragic, noting it was the first suicide at the jail during his tenure. He emphasized that every inmate brought to the Sheriff’s office undergoes a mental health evaluation and is offered help if they express thoughts of self-harm.

Leon Hettinger Obituary

Leon Hettinger, 52, of Laurelville passed away on May 25, 2024.  He was born on January 10, 1972 in Logan to Thomas and Martha (McNichols) Hettinger.  He was preceded in death by his parents. Leon is survived by his daughter Mercedes (Austin) Silva; brother Ralph W. Hettinger; sister Twila (Karl) Likens; nieces Jennifer, Cheryl, Christine and Kaitlin Likens, Melanie Hettinger; several great nieces and nephews and by special friend Robert Graham.  Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2024 at noon at Wellman Funeral Home, Laurelville with burial to follow in Green Summit Cemetery.  Visitation will be held at the funeral home in Laurelville on Friday from 4-6 p.m.

Online condolences can be made to www.wellmanfuneralhomes.com.