Man charged in turnpike attack enters insanity plea

Authorities responded to an Ohio Turnpike plaza on Tuesday, Oct. 19 after a suspect stabbed two...
Authorities responded to an Ohio Turnpike plaza on Tuesday, Oct. 19 after a suspect stabbed two people.(WTVG)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 12:54 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The man charged with murdering one person and severely injuring another at a Sandusky County turnpike plaza in October is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thomas Conner will be evaluated by the Court Diagnostic & Treatment Center to determine his competency to stand trial. He will remain in jail at this time.

The reports are ordered to be filed with the court within 30 days. No new court dates have been set.

Conner, 51, of Beloit, Wisconsin, stabbed the two victims at the Erie Islands Travel Plaza, which services westbound traffic for I-80.

David Diederich, 66, of La Porte, Indiana, died at the scene from his injuries.

The Sheriff said the other victim, Alan Austin, 53, of Delavan, Wisconsin, was sitting in his work van eating when Conner approached and stabbed him. Austin got out of the car and ran toward an EMT for medical assistance that was there by happenstance, authorities said.

A Sandusky County Sheriff’s Deputy, now identified as Deputy Evan Ely, 39, arrived at the scene and made contact with the suspect. Conner allegedly refused to drop the knife. That’s when the deputy shot the suspect with a “pain compliance weapon,” the Sheriff said. He described it as a “less than lethal” weapon.

When that didn’t work, the suspect allegedly charged the officer. That’s when Ely shot Conner twice with his firearm.

Authorities said there is no known connection between the suspect and the victims.

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