A weapon not logged in as evidence a decade ago that ended up in the hands of a Caledonia teenager allegedly forced a Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office investigator to resign, The Packet has learned.
The investigator, 38-year-old Eli Perrigin, resigned Feb. 6. The next night, he and his wife, 24-year-old Ashley Perrigin, both were charged with misdemeanor domestic assault following a dispute at their Morton Road home.
Perrigin’s career, which spanned 17 years first with the Columbus Police Department and then with the Sheriff’s Department, began to unravel Feb. 1 when a 14-year-old freshman Caledonia High School student was found in possession of a handgun and an old bullet proof vest and some other items at his home.
The gun came from an old Sheriff’s Department case, although the department won’t discuss what case, the type of case, the caliber of the weapon, how exactly the items ended up in the teen’s possession or other details.
In response to repeated requests from The Packet, the Sheriff’s Department issued a release Wednesday morning detailing some elements of the case, although it did not name Perrigin and would not confirm whether he was the subject of the release. But sources did confirm it, as did other elements of the story previously reported by The Packet.
In the release, the department acknowledged some issues it previously had denied in replies to questions from The Packet.
Perrigin was allegedly involved with the child’s mother.
Sources tell The Packet investigators now are reviewing all of Perrigin’s cases for possible problems or whether other evidence might have been misdirected.
“I certainly hope not, but it has to be done. I hope to God it is an isolated incident,” said one Sheriff’s Department employee.
The text of Wednesday’s Sheriff’s Department release says:
“On Jan. 31, 2018, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department was advised of some suspicious behavior concerning a student at Caledonia High School. A Lowndes County Sheriff’s officer who is assigned to the school as a school resource officer reported that he had learned that this student was putting some things on a social media site of himself shooting firearms. Officers talked to school counselors concerning some behavior problems the student was having as well as the behavior listed above. Counselors stated to officers they had been dealing with this student for a while and felt that he was being bullied by other students, but the student would not elaborate with any names or details and did not want the school to talk to any other students. Some students at the school were concerned about some posts the student was making and the change in his mood towards things. Officers did view a video and a post on social media that was shown to them by a concerned parent that showed the student with a firearm. All of the above concerned the counselors and the Sheriff’s Department to the point they needed to investigate further.
“Lowndes County Investigation Division responded to the school and met with counselors and parents of the juvenile.
“Investigators responded to the juvenile’s residence and with parental permission searched the juvenile’s room. Officers were able to locate a handgun, an old bullet resistant vest and a small amount of ammunition. All this evidence was seized and taken to Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department. The juvenile was taken to Lowndes County Juvenile Detention Center and turned over to Youth Court.
“The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, through its investigation, was able to determine the handgun in question was at one time in the possession of a former officer with the department and should have been logged into evidence approximately 10 years ago but was not logged as it should have been.
“This is an on-going investigation and Lowndes County authorities are in contact with Lowndes County School administrators regarding the juvenile and are working on developing a possible prosecutorial case on the former officer in reference to the above firearm involved in this matter and those findings will be presented to the Lowndes County District Attorney for presentation to the next term of the Lowndes County Grand Jury.
“The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department is taking this matter extremely seriously and would like for the public to know we are taking the safety of their children seriously.
“The juvenile in question is no longer in classes at the school and is currently awaiting a hearing with the Lowndes County School Administration. At this time of the investigation we have no credible information or evidence the juvenile in question had a firearm on school premises at any time.
“As stated above, this case remains under investigation.”