Print this ArticlePrint this Article Email this ArticleEmail this Article
Text Size: A | A | A

Homeless men catch suspected thief

Group heard woman crying for help after her purse was stolen as she was walking with her 16-month-old baby in Lithia Park
Buy This Photo
An unidentified man, left, and a homeless man who goes by the name Will “Joe Dirt” detain 25-year-old Micah James Farley, who is suspected of snatching a woman’s purse in Ashland’s Lithia Park on Thursday. Photo by Aaron Fletchercamera phone by Aaron Fletcher.
 Posted: 2:00 AM May 19, 2012

A 25-year-old man who snatched a woman's purse from a stroller in Lithia Park Thursday was chased down and held by a group of mostly homeless men until police arrived to make an arrest.

Just after 6 p.m., 29-year-old Kathleen McDonald was pushing a stroller with her 18-month-old baby inside through Lithia Park when she stopped to get a drink of water from a fountain near the Butler Band Shell. While she was drinking, a man grabbed her purse from the stroller and took off running with it. McDonald ran after the man, leaving her baby behind in the stroller. When she got close to the thief, he reportedly pushed her away with his shoulder.

"I was out of breath so I stopped and started yelling," said McDonald, of Ashland. "These young men came and they tackled him."

Aaron Fletcher, who witnessed the incident, said several homeless people had just finished a community potluck meal at the gazebo in Lithia Park and were sitting near the parking lot on Winburn Way when they heard a woman crying for help.

"We got up and saw a guy running down the street and we surrounded him," Fletcher said. He said the man dropped the purse, which he had stuffed into his shirt, and tried to run, but another homeless man who goes by the name Will "Joe Dirt" pushed him to the ground and held him until police arrived.

Ashland police Detective Sgt. Jim Alderman said about four homeless people detained the man with the help of two people who had been driving by and stopped. Officers were at the scene within four minutes of receiving a call from dispatch.

The detained man, whom police identified as Micah James Farley, was arrested on charges of third-degree robbery and second-degree theft and was being held on $9,000 bail at Jackson County Jail Friday. Farley refused to give police his address.

"Nobody was hurt, and the homeless folks were proud of helping her out," said Alderman.

Fletcher said the incident is an example of how homeless people watch out for others and keep an eye on things that are happening downtown and in Lithia Park.

"We actually prevent crime," said Fletcher, adding that he was bothered that a woman with a baby had been targeted.

"She had to choose between being with her child or trying to get her purse," he said.

McDonald insisted on giving the homeless men $11 for their help, Fletcher said.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-482-3456 or, or Mail Tribune reporter Mandy Valencia at

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.