Ledford Murder: Police Affidavit Gives More Detail Into Murder Investigation

Niceville Police Chief David Popwell updated the City Council on the investigation into the killing of beloved entrepreneur Michael Ledford.

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Update 5: Police Report Reveals New Details About Altercation That Killed Mike Ledford:

Niceville Police have released a moderately redacted report which contains their narrative from the evening Local Restauranteur Mike Ledford died – and accuses Dylan Deschaine of second-degree murder. 

According to the police report, Ledford and Deschaine had no known connection before February 9th, when the killing took place. 

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Initial Police Response

The narrative, authored by the investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Horace Paine, begins when patrol units arrived on the scene of the crime at 7:58 in the evening in response to a call about a possible gunshot victim. Based on the police report, officers arrived on the scene about 17 minutes after the occurrence began. 

When they arrived, they found the victim, Mike Ledford, inside of his truck – which had been driven into a curb behind CVS. 

The responding offer, Christopher Fulford, found Ledford leaning out of the vehicle, bleeding from his wound. Fulford immediately started first aid to try to save Ledford’s life. 

EMS then arrived on the scene and took Ledford to Fort Walton-Destin Medical Center, where Ledford died of his injuries. The doctor responsible for Ledford’s care said a sharp-edged weapon cut the artery in his armpit, which led to his death. 

Witnesses Come Forward To Assist Police

In the wake of the police arriving on the scene, witnesses came forward to police. They informed officers that a fight between Ledford and Deschaine started inside Paradise Liquors. One witness said a young man, whom police believe is Deschaine, was ahead of Ledford in line to purchase alcohol. “The victim advised the defendant that he was taking too long to check out, and both the defendant and victim started a verbal altercation,” according to the police report. 

Another witness heard the argument from the back of the store. This witness walked to the front to see what was going on and noticed the victim in his truck slowly driving toward the back of CVS. At the same time, he saw Deschaine run away from the truck toward the CVS. 

Deschaine’s Mother Calls Police

Meanwhile, in northwest Massachusetts, Dylan Deschaine’s mother received a call from her son – more than 1,300 miles away. 

According to Deschaine’s mother and North Adams Police, Deschaine called his mother and told her that he had stabbed someone. She immediately called the police, who routed her to the Niceville Police Department’s Chief, David Popwell.

North Adams Police were with DEchaine’s mother as she talked to him. North Adams Police Department Sergeant Zustra told Niceville Police investigating the killing they could hear Deschaine over the phone as he spoke to his mother. Sergeant Zustra claims they heard him tell his mother he stabbed someone, he was a member of the Gangster Disciples, and he was angry with her for calling the police. 

According to the FBI, the Gangster Disciples is a Chicago-based street gang that began in 1974 and has more than 30,000 members across 35 states. 

Deschaine’s mother gave Chief Popwell her son’s phone number. He called it, and Deschaine picked up. According to the police report, Deschaine told Popwell that he was scared and hiding in a bathroom at the Cumberland Farms 500 feet away from the Niceville Police Station on Partin Drive. Deschaine told Popwell to come alone to coax him out of the restroom – the Chief did as asked and got him to come out. 

Chief Popwell put Deschaine in handcuffs and sat him in the back of his squad car. According to the report, police had not asked him any questions when he spontaneously told Niceville Police Investigator Stephen Usry that he’d killed a man, but officers would not be able to find the murder weapon he used. 

Dechaine Spits On Officers, Taken To Hospital

Police say they took Deschaine into custody with “severe lacerations on the palm and fingers of the right hand.” Members of Okaloosa EMS evaluated his injuries and told police Deschaine would need stitches – but he was too aggressive with the paramedic and EMT. They told police they could not administer aid to him on site. Senior officers tasked Officer Jacob Runge and Nate Herzig with assisting with transporting the defendant to the hospital for treatment. Deschaine allegedly spat in both of their faces – at least one officer got Deschaine’s spit in his mouth. 

At this point, Deschaine told officers he would not speak to them, per his Miranda Rights. 

Officers took him to the hospital in an ambulance, had him treated for his injuries, and taken to the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview the same evening. 

Update 4: Murder Charge Filed

The Niceville Police Department’s Chief Popwell announced this morning that his office had officially charged Dylan Deschaine with second-degree murder in the death of Mike Ledford. 

Update 3: Niceville Police Chief Updates Council on Michael Ledford Murder Case

Niceville Police Chief David Popwell updated the Niceville Council on the investigation into the killing of local restauranteur and My Ohana Food Truck Owner Michael Ledford. 

Want to help the Ledfords? Here’s How You Can Support The Family

Popwell updated the council in response to a request from Councilwoman Cathy Alley. 

“As y’all know, about eight o’clock Friday night,” Popwell began, “We received a report of a possible gunshot victim in the parking lot CVS parking lot. Our officers responded, [and it] turned out to be not a gunshot. It was a stabbing wound. Our officers gave first aid. One of our guys pinched off the artery to try to save the victim, but was unsuccessful. Long story short, with a lot of coordination between here [and] Massachusetts, phone pings, we’re able to track down the subject. [It] took about an hour and a half [of] talking to him [before] he decided to he would turn himself in.” Popwell told the council that the suspect, 24-year-old Dylan Deschaine, made arrangements to turn himself in. When they first met up with Deschaine, Popwell said the suspect got aggressive. “Everything was fine until [law enforcement] went to transport him, and then he got irate – at which time he spit at [the officers]. So he’s arrested for battery [on a] law enforcement officer. That was the initial holding charge. Since then, we’ve recovered the knife the backpack clothing. We met with the state attorney this afternoon at 545 this afternoon; the arrest warrant is going to the judge for second-degree murder.”

As of 9:09 PM on February 13, 2024, Deschaine has not been officially charged with second-degree murder. 

His next court date will be a felony plea on March 14 with Judge Terrance Ketchel. 

Update 2: February 12, 2024 1:40 PM

Niceville Police have arrested 24-year-old Dylan Deschaine in connection with the death of 42-year-old restauranteur Michael Ledford.

Ledford, according to a police report released Monday, died at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center after he was attacked in the parking lot behind the Niceville CVS. 

As Niceville Police investigated the attack on Ledford, they received a call from Deschaine’s mother. Police say the mother told them that her son had possibly hurt someone. 

From there, a phone line connection was made between the police and Deschaine. At some point, the release from the city does not make clear, police learned Deschaine was hiding at a Cumberland Farms convenience store. 

Police were able to coax Deschaine out of the bathroom of the store and take him into custody. 

Once in custody, Deschaine was taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, where he was treated for injuries on his hand. From there, he was taken to the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview. 

Jail records show Deschaine has not been charged with murder. He’s currently being held for two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer. 

Update 1: February 12, 2024 9:00 AM 

Police say they responded at about 7:50 to a call for help at the CVS on John Sims Parkway. Detective Sergeant Horace Paine with Niceville Police told Mid Bay News that when officers arrived, they found a man with injuries – he was transported to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. There is still no word on the man’s condition, pending family notification, according to Detective Sergeant Paine.  

After a search that the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office assisted, Niceville Police apprehended a suspect in the case. Detective Sergeant Paine says this person, whose name they will not yet release citing the ongoing investigation, is the only person they suspect of involvement in the crime. 

The police will not say what kind of incident, either a shooting or stabbing, took place. They state the incident is still under investigation and cannot yet release information. 

Detective Sergeant Paine confirmed the Niceville Police Department does not believe the incident is related to drug or gang activity. 

A black Ford Pickup truck, parked up on the curb, is surrounded by Niceville Police cars with lights flashing. It does not appear anyone is in the truck, and the police seem to be protecting the integrity of a crime scene – not searching for someone or participating in a standoff. 

At least five police officers were on the scene at 9:20 Friday evening. 

Bystanders say the police have been on scene for more than an hour. 

All businesses in the area, including the CVS and McDonalds, which are about the scene, are still open as of 9:40 in the evening. 

This developing story will be updated as we get more information. 

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