Affidavit: Man takes police on 3 chases in stolen cars; ends in Maumee River

(Provided booking photo shows Michael Landess)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A Fort Wayne man faces a slew of charges after police say he led them on three separate chases in stolen cars on Saturday before they ultimately caught him swimming in the Maumee River.

Michael J. Landess, 33, faces 20 preliminary charges including counts of resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, receiving stolen auto parts, criminal recklessness, leaving the scene of an accident, breaking and entering a dwelling, auto theft, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, criminal mischief and driving a vehicle without ever obtaining a license.

The ordeal started around 9 a.m. Saturday, when Fort Wayne Police were called to Hidden River and Saddlewood drives, inside the Auburn Farms neighborhood off Auburn Road, on a report of an unconscious man in a running vehicle there. According to a probable cause affidavit, an officer arrived to find Landess passed out in the driver’s seat of a stolen green 2000 Dodge Neon.

When the officer woke Landess up, he sped off in the Neon, cutting through yards and crashing through a chain-link fence, the affidavit said. The Neon eventually was spotted headed north on Coldwater Road and into the Longwood neighborhood off East Dupont and Auburn roads, where Landess reportedly crashed the Neon in a ditch. According to the affidavit, Landess then ran off.

Landess ran to a home and stole a green 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee from a garage and again drove off toward the front of the neighborhood, where police had the entrance blocked with a cruiser and stop sticks. The Jeep drove over a raised median and on a sidewalk to avoid the stop sticks and hit a police squad car and drove east on Dupont Road, the affidavit said.

The Jeep sped through multiple yards of homes and away from police, the affidavit said.

Around 4:30 p.m. Allen County Sheriff’s deputies were called to Woodburn Road on a report of a man passed out in a black pickup, reportedly stolen out of DeKalb County. There, deputies found Landess. When deputies woke him, he again sped off through a fields before he got out of the pickup and ran.

Landess was eventually captured just off Venison Trail in Woodburn, where a resident reported a man swimming in the Maumee River.

In the affidavit, police said Landess admitted to using meth, crack and spice over the previous three days, and used spice on Saturday.