Aspen man suspected of defibrillator theft says he was having medical emergency
An Aspen man confessed to authorities that he swiped a defibrillator from the transit center at Base Village in Snowmass, but he claimed it was because he was having a medical emergency.
Police arrested Jeremiah Casper on Friday, a day after an automated external defibrillator was discovered missing from the lobby of the transit center.
Casper, 37, was released from Pitkin County Jail on Friday after he posted $2,500 bail. He is scheduled to answer a Class-VI felony charge of theft, $2,000 to $5,000, at his first scheduled court appearance June 1.
Casper said Monday that he will fight the charge.
“I have a heart condition,” he said, “and as I was walking down Fanny Hill in Snowmass, I felt like I was having a heart attack, and I felt like I was losing oxygen.”
Casper said he had a heart attack when he was 33.
“I had to do it in a split second, and I know where the defibrillators are in Snowmass,” he said. “I took the one that was closest to me and ran to the bus stop and got home and ate a bunch of my heart medication.”
Casper said he did not use the defibrillator. He takes blood thinners to help with his condition, Casper said, adding that he was OK.
Authorities learned of the missing defibrillator Thursday when they were contacted by Jerome Simecek, Snowmass Hospitality’s director of operations, according to an arrest affidavit written by Snowmass police officer Andrew Rushing.
Rushing and Simecek reviewed the transit center’s video surveillance, and time-stamped footage from 5:15 p.m. Wednesday showed a man take the defibrillator from the wall and put it in a backpack.
“I recognized the individual in the video as Jeremiah Casper,” Rushing wrote. “Casper is known to me from my time working in the Pitkin County Jail. Casper has had previous encounters with law enforcement which required a stay in jail.”
Police went to Casper’s Aspen apartment, and he admitted to taking the device, which is valued at $3,930, Rushing wrote.
“To me, it didn’t matter if the thing cost $10 or $1 million,” Casper said. “But I guess it cost enough to make a felony.”
Rushing’s affidavit says that Casper told police that he didn’t plan to return the device. But Casper told The Aspen Times he had intended to return to the device. He said he has never used a defibrillator, but “I know how to use one. It’s not one of those things you want to use.”
Simecek said the defibrillator belongs to the Base Village Metro District. The defibrillator was not damaged and was fully functional Monday, he said.
“They are an important lifesaving tool, especially for non-climatized guests,” he said.
Automated external defibrillators are the size of a laptop computer and can diagnose cardiac arrhythmias. If the device detects a condition in a patient, it alerts the user or administrator and advises them to apply a shock, which is designed to stop the arrhythmia and allow the heart to re-establish a regular rhythm.
A community partnership known as Save a Life Pitkin County, which includes the Aspen Community Foundation, Pitkin County, the Public Safety Council and Aspen Ambulance, has worked to provide automated external defibrillators in public buildings throughout the county.
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Despite nearly a month of intense investigation by two APD detectives, two investigators with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and help from an FBI agent in Glenwood Springs, the case is progressing slowly.