Judge haunted by release of man accused in deadly Licking County nursing home shooting

NEWARK, Ohio — A judge in Ohio says he will be haunted forever by his decision to grant early release to a domestic violence suspect who authorities say killed his ex-girlfriend, her co-worker and a police chief.

Thomas Hartless

Licking County Municipal Judge Michael Higgins said Friday he will go to his grave regretting he didn’t know who Thomas Hartless was when he signed off on his release.

Hartless was freed in April and then killed himself last week after the fatal shootings at a nursing home in Kirkersville, about 25 miles east of Columbus.

A review of what happened found a lack of checks and balances in the court’s early-release process.

Hartless wasn’t supposed to have weapons, but a probation officer never checked his home, where authorities later found over 60 guns.

More stories on the nursing home shooting here