BUCYRUS – A Lakewood woman who was driving a vehicle with a dead man in the front seat made an initial court appearance this week in Crawford County Municipal Court and pleaded guilty to one count of OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence).
Kristle Kendall, 34, is eight months pregnant. Judge Shane Leuthold set bond for Kendall in the amount of $50,000 citing the case as beyond strange and in need of further investigation.
Kendall alleges that she was kidnapped by her best friend, Michael Collins Jr., also 34-years-old, last Sunday. Collins was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in the Jeep Liberty Kendall was driving when it was stopped by troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol and Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy early Monday morning on Ohio 100 at Diebler Road.
Collins’ body has been sent to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office in Toledo for an autopsy and his death has not yet been ruled as a homicide or suicide, although Kendall says her friend shot himself.
Collins was wanted in connection with a burglary at a Lakewood residence where he is accused of stealing his father’s gun and later on Sunday, robbing a clerk at Shell Tru North on Royalton Road in Strongsville at gunpoint.
Kendall has said she believes Collins shot himself while in Ontario and that she was driving around, looking for a hospital.
Law enforcement began searching for the vehicle after a call from a person at 1:02 a.m. Monday who said Collins was dead in a vehicle that exited I-71 at U.S. 30 and was possibly heading west. Officers believe Kendall drove as far west as Upper Sandusky before backtracking into Crawford County.
Kendall is being held at the Crawford County Justice Center while the investigation continues. She is represented by Bucyrus attorney Adam Stone.
Gasuras can be reached on Twitter at @kimberlygasuras.