Alabama man, Winchester Hagans, arrested for littering after leaving flowers on his fiancée’s grave
“She doesn’t have a headstone yet, so I just made this planter to put on her grave,” Hagans told The Washington Post. He had placed flowers on her grave for a year, he said.
But when police approached Hagans last month with an arrest warrant on a felony littering charge, the 31-year-old was confused. Because some burial plots in the state are owned and controlled by the family of the deceased and considered private property, Hagans said city officials reassured him that he could place the planter at the grave of the deceased. Ford unless there is a complaint.
Upon his arrest, Hagans found out who had signed the warrant: Reverend Tom Ford, his fiancée’s father.
“The police don’t enforce the law unless the owner of the land is trying to do something about it,” Hagans said, adding that his late fiancée’s father didn’t approve of their relationship and hadn’t contacted him. before the arrest. A copy of the arrest warrant obtained by The Post shows Ford as the person who signed the document.
David Dorton, a spokesperson for the city of Auburn, confirmed to the Post that Hagans was arrested Jan. 24 “after a warrant was signed by another citizen.”
“Any citizen has the right to pursue a criminal charge against another if he demonstrates that there is sufficient probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed,” Dorton said in a statement. “In this situation, as is often the case, the Public Security is only a bailiff who allows the parties in conflict to appear before the court. The facts of the case will be presented by both parties and weighed in court.
The minimum fine for a first conviction for felony trash in Alabama is $500, according to state law.
Ford did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The story was first reported by local ABC affiliate WTVM.
Hagans and Hannah Ford met at a cafe in Montgomery, Alabama, and bonded over their faith, he wrote on his website. Ford’s father was a pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Montgomery, and Hagans’ father is an evangelist in Opelika, Ala. As the couple continued to bump into each other at the cafe, Hagans said he made sure to bring a deck of cards with him so they could play games of “nines” with each other.
Hannah Ford was a rising star in Republican politics in Alabama. She has worked on several political campaigns, including Roy Moore’s campaign for the US Senate in 2017. Moore lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones after a woman accused the Republican of initiating a sexual relationship at age 14 years old.
Ford, who later lobbied on conservative issues in Alabama and worked for evangelist Scott Dawson’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018, had “a kind heart, a happy demeanor, great wisdom and many talents,” wrote his family in his obituary.
“She might have been small in stature, but she was a giant when she walked into a room,” Dawson told AL.com last year. “She knew how to deal with senators, members of the House, judicial candidates.”
Ford left politics around the time his relationship with Hagans was heating up. The couple took long car rides, shared an appreciation for Winston Churchill and talked about what the rest of their lives would be like, Hagans said. They loved to cook together, with Ford wanting to cook big meals when guests came over for game nights and holidays.
Her father, however, did not approve of the couple’s relationship, Hagans said. There was a stretch when the pastor demanded that the couple not communicate for 30 days, Hagans said. When they decided to continue dating, the decision severed the relationship between Hannah Ford and her father.
“We jumped through all of his hoops to be together,” Hagans said. “We had to figure out if going through the madness was worth it. She said to me, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t just quit. You had every reason to quit. Why didn’t you just move on? And I was like, ‘You’re worth it, you’re an amazing person.’ ”
When Hagans and Ford got engaged on Dec. 21, 2020, she shared on Facebook how she wept with “tears of joy.”
“I still can’t believe I have to say YES to you!!!” she wrote. “I LOVE YOU and I just can’t wait to be your WIFE!!!!!”
Hagans was equally excited, saying on Facebook: “I can’t believe I’ll be spending the rest of my life with someone who loves so deeply, prays so sincerely, cares so tenderly, acts so lovingly, speaks so sweetly and loves Jesus so much more than she loves me.
The couple’s wedding date, May 1, was fast approaching and they started looking for venues. As they left a barn, they said they still had a lot of planning to do — invitations, stamps, guest list, Hagans said. She leaned over, kissed Hagans on the cheek, and told him she was looking forward to seeing him again in a few days.
“I love you very much. I hate leaving you,” he recalled saying. “I just can’t wait until we don’t have to go our separate ways.”
Tragedy struck shortly after they parted ways.
It was around 7 p.m. on January 16, 2021, and Ford was driving from the venue to his home in Montgomery. But while driving down Narrow Lane Road, the driver of a sedan lost control and collided with another car, which slammed into the Ford SUV, police say.
When she didn’t respond to her texts or voicemails, Hagans reached out to her roommate and learned she hadn’t returned home. He knew something was wrong and ran about 60 miles from his home in Opelika to Montgomery.
When he approached the crash intersection, he asked if anyone involved in the wreckage matched Ford’s description. Paramedics took him to see the crashed car, which led to him collapsing in the middle of the street.
“I thought there was no way she was gone,” Hagans said. “She was the most loving, kind, hopeful and generous person I have ever met.”
She died on January 17, 2021, just days after her 27th birthday.
“She was a mile from home,” Dawson told AL.com.
The sadness of losing his fiancee was compounded, Hagans said, when his family made it clear to him that he was not welcome at her funeral. Hagans noted that he didn’t even know the color of his coffin.
Then, last month, Hagans was arrested by police in Opelika. When he picked up his license and registration, he said there were three police cars. Authorities told him there was a warrant out for his arrest in Auburn — which Hagans said was “impossible.”
“The cop said, ‘I’ve never seen this before, but the warrant is for littering,'” Hagans said. “When I was sitting in the back seat of the police car, I saw that [Tom Ford’s] the name was on it.
Hagans, who said he still had not spoken with Tom Ford about the circumstances leading up to the arrest last month, blamed the father for signing the arrest warrant a year after the tragedy. While he hopes the charge will be dropped at an upcoming court date, Hagans said he was sad he couldn’t do something as simple as leaving flowers for the woman he was with. he planned to grow old.
“In the cemetery where my darling is, there are dozens of other planters and plants. It’s crazy,” he said, choking. “I just want to be able to put this flower box on my fiancée’s grave.”