A 60 year old man arrested on minor charges more than three weeks ago remains behind bars in Utah while law enforcement officials try to determine his true identity. The mystery man was arrested on trespassing charges by police, who refuse to let him go because the man refuses to "identify himself"?
He was booked into jail on three misdemeanor charges and has thwarted any chance of release, with or without bail, by refusing to identify himself.
"This is really a strange case," said Lt. Dennis Harris with the Utah County Sheriff's Office.
Under current law in Utah - the man is considered a criminal because he won't divulge his name. Law Enforcement will keep him confined in jail indefinitely as far as they are concerned until at such time as he "cooperates" with police demands!
"I've been trying to think from A to Z why he would want to stay here ... why he wouldn't give us any information," Harris said.
"He either has to be wanted by some other state or he could be on some other registry or database that has not shown up," he added.
The man is describe by police as "fairly well spoken and educated," but very guarded about his identity.
"He was very aware of what we were trying to do and he would not give us the slightest bit of information indicating where he was from or anything relating to his family situation," said Harris.
"We've had a lot of people call in but nothing has panned out. Nothing," he added. the mystery man has shown a pleasant demeanor and has communicated that he is being treated well.
"He said the food has been great," Harris said.
"I realize that sometimes people want to go to jail because they are homeless, have nothing, they are destitute. I've seen that over the years. I just don't get the impression that's the reason. He just doesn't want to be discovered by somebody." in his fourth week of incarceration, the man added another twist to the story recently by hinting he had business of some kind outside prison that he would need to attend to.
"He said there was a point at some time that he would need to get out of jail," Harris said. "That's the closest I can find of what he wants to do. And that makes no sense to me whatsoever."
Police attempts to force him into saying his name and complying with their wishes hasn't worked. And police are not allowed to really torture him or beat him to get that information. So it has resulted in a stand-off of sorts between the man and police officials.
Police in Utah indicate they will keep the man locked up until they can otherwise force him to say his name. Police want that so they can persecute the man further, for doing nothing more than "trespassing" - which is a non violent misdemeanor charge.
In the meantime it is costing officials money to feed and incarcerate him.
Public opinion in this case is clearly against the police: " Charge him or let him go, it is none of your business who he is if he chooses to keep it to himself.", said Keith from Phoenix.
"So he doesn't want to identify himself - why is he being held? Trespass in a parking building - does this give the police a reason to hold him prisoner for weeks?", said Mark from Alabama. "let him go" he said!
"This is another one of those guys who, faced with out of control insurance costs, got himself arrested so he could get medical care. Expect to see a LOT more people like this soon", said Tina from Washington.
I guess the real question is: "Assuming he continues to refuse to identify himself and the authorities are unable to identify him, how long can they legally keep him locked up?".
One police official in Utah, speaking on the condition of anonymity said: "they will keep this man locked up until the cows come home..." Nobody seems to know the answer to this at the Provo county prosecutors office - they are refusing to comment on this situation.
City officials and police officials are catching a lot of criticism right now for their actions in this case, since the story was ran on the entertainment based media MSNBC recently with the majority of people saying "let the old man go"!
Police say they can't do that, and are content to violate the mans civil rights by keeping him lock up in jail.
Cards and letters are beginning to pour in from all over the county to the county jail in favor of the old man.
It seems the police can arrest you if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting you have committed or attempted to commit any offence, or if you are committing or attempting to commit any offence, but it is impractical or inappropriate to serve a summons. However, they can only do this if one of the following conditions applies:
If they are arresting you because you have failed to give them a satisfactory address, they must first explain that you may be arrested and give you the opportunity to give them the address.
I believe John Doe's offence was the trespass and the first condition of providing the police his name was met hence his subsequent arrest.
At the same time they have no evidence that this man did anything wrong.
Police won't confirm this, but they may have taken fingerprints and turned it over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to see if they can figure out who the man is. Officials are also running his mug shot on TV hoping someone will come forward or provide proof of who he is. "it's a total mess", said one official. "It may blow up in our face and we could get sued for violating this man's civil rights." Offers from criminal defense attorneys are also coming in, especially now that publicity of this strange case of the unidentified mystery man continues.
Police are trying to figure out if they can just fingerprint the man and collect DNA and then charge him under "John Doe"... In most countries in South America, they would just assign a number to someone like this and let him rot in jail. Has it gotten to the point that we will do that here in America - under this paranoid police state we have set up after the 9-11 terrorists attacks?
The case is raising all kinds of legal questions and civil rights concerns. Police are hoping they can quickly identify the man, charge him and kick him out back on the street. They wish they would have never arrested the old man in the first place. Many now are critical of the arresting officer who apparently had "discretion" not to arrest the man - but decided to anyway after the man wasn't willing to give his name. So to make a example of him they arrested him, instead of simply moving him along to go sleep in a park or behind some bushes or something.
Some people now are even calling for a federal investigation of police actions in this case.
Meanwhile the old man continues to sit in jail, with police refusing to do what is right and simply drop the charges and let him go.
The police state is naturally suspicious and want to crush people who don't want to comply with their demands. At the same time the police can't beat or torture him, like they can in China and other police states and dictatorships like Syria, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan...