Months-long manhunt ends with 5-hour stand-off at Wooster mobile home park

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WOOSTER, Ohio (WJW) – Authorities on Tuesday apprehended a local man who has eluded them for months, taking him into custody after a five-hour standoff in a mobile home park.

Capt. Doug Hunter of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office says Steven Wolford Jr., 32, was wanted on a failure to appear warrant stemming from a felonious assault charge in December.

Wolford, who Hunter says had been in and out of trouble since the age of 12, was believed to have been the passenger in a stolen jeep that Doylestown and Rittman police, along with Wayne County deputies, tried to stop in September.

Dash camera video provided to FOX 8 shows the jeep jumping a curb at a local gas station/convenience store and leading them on a high-speed chase through rural neighborhoods.

The chase was eventually called off out of concern for the safety of others.

“That stolen vehicle was found later that day in the city of Canton and, no real surprise, another vehicle was stolen nearby that location and was eventually recovered here in Wayne County,” said Hunter.

On Tuesday, Wooster police pulled over another vehicle after 2 a.m. in which Wolford again was believed to be a passenger.

“The female driving the vehicle did stop and as the moment of the actual arrest was about to unfold, he apparently told her to drive away and lead the officers on another chase,” said Hunter.

That chase was also ended because of the danger it posed to others, but authorities say they developed information that Wolford was at a mobile home park just outside of the city of Wooster, inside a mobile home belonging to his sister.

Wayne County Deputies, along with agents from the MEDWAY Drug Task Force, surrounded the trailer, negotiating for five hours trying to convince Wolford to surrender.

“Mr. Wolford remained inside and we received information from various sources that he was essentially saying he was not going back to prison and basically was not going to be taken alive.” said Hunter.

A special operations team from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, along with an armored vehicle, were called in to assist with Wolford’s apprehension on Tuesday.

The armored vehicle was pulled to the front door of the mobile home and Wolford was given the ultimatum that he needed to voluntarily surrender or the home would be flooded with tear gas.

He then voluntarily surrendered.

On Hunter’s body-worn camera video, Woolford can be heard explaining that he surrendered because he did not want harm to come to his sisters’ dogs.

“I’m glad we didn’t have to hurt you,” Hunter is heard telling Wolford, who responded, “I was debating it.”

FOX 8 News spoke with his sister, Charlene Stewart, who was at the home on Thursday.

“He’s a good dude, he really is. Just got his head on wrong right now,” she said, suggesting that her brother’s actions might be influenced by the use of heroin.

Regarding her brother’s voluntary surrender, she told FOX 8 News she was happy “because otherwise it was going to be ugly and I didn’t want that to happen.”

Captain Hunter and Orrville Police confirm that inside the mobile home, they recovered one of numerous guns which were stolen from an Orrville business on August 27, for which there are currently no named suspects.

Wolford is being held in the Wayne County Jail on a failure to appear warrant from the felonious assault charge in December.

Additional charges from multiple jurisdictions are expected.

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