Hilliard Northwest News

Washington Township

Slaying still under investigation

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Franklin County Sheriff's Office homicide detectives continue to investigate the slaying of a livery driver who was shot Feb. 4 at a Washington Township trailer park.

The sheriff's office received multiple 911 calls about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, reporting a body outside and under a trailer in the Hayden Heights mobile home park, 5501 Cosgray Road, according to Sheriff Zach Scott.

Detectives identified the victim as Paul D. Devitt, 49, of Bolingbrook Drive in Prairie Township. Residences on Bolingbrook Drive have Columbus addresses, but are within the boundaries of the Hilliard City Schools.

Scott said Devitt was pronounced dead at the scene from a wound Scott described as "not a single gunshot."

No charges in connection with the homicide had been levied by Feb. 11.

But on Feb. 7, police charged Brian Lee Jones, 41, with a fourth-degree felony count of theft and a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence after Devitt's missing 2007 Chevrolet Suburban was found in a Far West Side motel parking lot, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Jones has no known address. Franklin County Municipal Court records list his address as "streets of Columbus."

Jones has been arrested several times, including by Hilliard police in 2007 and 2013 for drug trafficking.

At the time of the April 2013 arrest, his address was listed by the court as 3750 Westbrook Drive in Hilliard.

Scott would not give any more information about Jones' Feb. 7 arrest, including whether he would be charged in Devitt's death, according to the Dispatch.

According to court records, Jones is being held on a $1 million bond in the Franklin County jail. He was arraigned Feb. 8 and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14, in Municipal Court.

Meanwhile, police are investigating whether Devitt picked up or dropped off a customer at the trailer park, Scott said.

Devitt operated his own car service, Black Car of Columbus, investigators said.

Before he was elected sheriff, Scott worked as a detective for 14 years in the sheriff's office homicide bureau.

"Based on what I saw at the scene, I don't think this was random," Scott said. "Based on his job, his description as a super-friendly guy and the crime scene, I think (the suspect) is someone he knew."

Scott said it was a "good possibility" the suspect either lives or knows someone at the trailer park where Devitt's body was found.

Devitt's Suburban, keys, wallet and cellphone were taken, Scott said.

There has been no activity on either the cellphone or his credit cards, Scott said Feb. 6.

Devitt's vehicle was discovered at 1 a.m. Feb. 7 in the parking lot of America's Best Value Inn, 1313 St. James Lutheran Way, near the Hilliard-Rome Road and Interstate 70 interchange, Columbus police said.

Columbus police were searching hotel parking lots and found the vehicle, said Columbus Sgt. Richard Weiner.

Columbus police notified the sheriff's office after discovering the vehicle, Weiner said.

The vehicle was found about two miles from Devitt's home and about 10 miles from the murder scene.

Devitt had been running his own car service since 2010, when he started Hilliard Hometown Taxi, according to the Dispatch.

He had since changed the name to Black Car of Columbus and was picking up customers through the on-demand car-service app Uber Black.

Dispatch reporters Allison Manning and Rick Rouan contributed to this story.

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