By Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Cushing man accused of possessing a van stolen from Grand Lakes Mental Health in Stillwater and also burglarizing a car in Cushing has been ordered to appear in court on Jan. 3, 2024, for a preliminary hearing.
Justin Farish Howard, 20, who was arrested on Sept. 14, remains jailed on $30,000 total bail. If convicted of both felony charges, Howard could be given as much as a seven-year prison term and fines totaling $10,000.
Cushing Police Officer Connor Clark was sent at 10:30 pm on July 28 to the 1100 block of E. North “regarding a van playing loud music,” according to an affidavit filed last month.
“The caller stated that there was a white van on the east side of their church playing loud music and requested us to speak with them. I observed a white male sitting in the driver seat of the vehicle. I recognized the individual, Justin Howard, from previous encounters with him as a law enforcement officer.
“I informed Howard of the reason I was there, and he replied that he did not know his music was that loud. Dispatch then advised that the van was registered to Grand Lakes Mental Health. However, the vehicle was not reported stolen.
“Howard also stated that he was not driving the van, and that he was waiting on (another man) to return from getting food. Due to the van not being reported stolen at the time, I advised Howard to lock the van and leave the property on foot, which he did,” the officer wrote in his affidavit.
“Upon our arrival at the police department, dispatch advised that they were able to speak with a Grand Lakes employee, who stated that they did not know the van was missing. Grand Lakes stated they would send somebody over to pick up the van and gave us to consent to search the van for keys,” but police were not able to locate them, the officer wrote in his affidavit.
“We did, however, find a log that kept track of who checked out the van and the mileage of each trip the van made. The last entry in the log was 07/27/2023 (to a woman) with an ending mileage of 104389. The odometer the van currently displayed was 104439. There were also numerous other property items in the vehicle,” which Grand Lake employees stated did not belong to them, the affidavit alleged.
When staff from Grand Lake Mental Health arrived at 12:04 am, “they stated that Howard had arrived at their facility on 7/27/2023 voluntarily after an apparent overdose. Upon Howard’s arrival, he refused treatment at the facility. The Grand Lake employees stated he then walked out the door, and that was the last they saw him,” the affidavit alleged.
In a separate charge of car burglary, the same Cushing officer was sent at 12:56 am on July 29 to the 1100 block of E. North regarding a theft that had occurred the previous day, an affidavit said.
A Cushing man said, “he was reviewing security footage in reference to a separate incident that occurred on the property the previous day,” in which Howard entered his vehicle and stole several items, the affidavit alleged.
“Among the items taken was a tool roll containing a full set of craftsman wrenches, four screwdrivers, three crescent wrenches, four pliers, one hammer, various other tools, the shifter knob to the vehicle, a double zipper pouch containing a Bible, pens and a tire gauge, a small first aid kit, a large roadside kit, two flashlights, loose change in the console, a ring in the console, two glasses cases, an audio auxiliary cord, and an iPhone charger cord,” the affidavit alleged.
The Cushing man provided police with security footage, which showed Howard searching through the vehicle and exiting it with what appears to be the man’s tool roll, the affidavit alleged.