Marengo man arrested for murder
A Marengo man has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter after a neighbor was found beaten to death in the man’s apartment.
Jason R. Ferguson, 31, who lives in the Oak Grove Apartments along Oak Grove Road just north of town, was arrested during the weekend by the U.S Marshal’s Task Force and Indiana State Police after being released from a Louisville hospital. He was taken to the Jefferson County Detention Center in Louisville where he is being held awaiting extradition to Indiana.
According to police, Ferguson lived with his girlfriend, Rachael Hoggard, in Apartment No. 3, and, on the early evening of Tuesday, Sept. 27, the couple got into an argument and Hoggard left. A friend of Ferguson’s, Joe Wayne Hopper Jr., 48, who lived in a nearby apartment, was present at the time. Police believe that an argument then erupted between Ferguson and Hopper.
According to an affidavit released by the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office, the disagreement between the two men turned violent and Hopper appeared to have been struck numerous times by several items inside the apartment, including a cast-iron skillet, a frying pan, a window air conditioning unit, a machete and a microwave oven.
The affidavit also indicated that at 8:30 that same evening, Ferguson knocked on the door of another neighbor, Gary Morris, and, after entering the neighbor’s apartment, told Morris, ‘You have to help me; help, help, the police are coming to get me.’ Ferguson, according to the document, was crying and appeared to be nervous and sweating profusely. Evidence at the scene indicated that Ferguson, while bloody, appeared to walk around the neighborhood and inside his apartment after the attack.
The following morning, Sept. 28, Hoggard stopped by the apartment on her way to work but was unable to enter the residence because the door had been blocked from the inside. She made efforts to contact Ferguson throughout the day without success. At about 5:30 p.m., after work, she returned to the apartment and forced the door open. She discovered Hopper laying on the floor in a pool of blood and Ferguson unresponsive on the couch. She then called 911.
According to police, the door had been barricaded with a wooden trunk and there were several empty prescription bottles strewn about the apartment and pills on the floor. There also was blood spattered on the walls and ceiling in the living room near Hopper’s body.
Crawford County Coroner Chris Brown pronounced Hopper dead at the scene, and Ferguson was taken to University of Louisville Medical Center.
Officials are still trying to determine why the struggle took place.
An autopsy was performed on Hopper, but, as of press time, Brown indicated that the results were still pending.
‘I knew Jason when I saw him,’ said Rebecca Hopper (no relation to Joe Hopper), who lives in a nearby apartment. ‘We’d wave at each other, but I never went to his apartment, and I never even knew his last name. I never heard anything that evening. And the next day, I was in English quite a while. I took a friend of mine home about 4:15 p.m. and, when I got back, the police were here.
‘I never had a clue all this had happened. I’ve lived here since 2004 ‘ seven years ‘ and nothing has ever happened here before,’ she said. ‘It’s a great place to live, and I just love our landlord. But this is worse than sad. More than one person’s life has been devastated. These people have families, too.’