John Thiry jailed for menacing, harassment

John Thiry, the Ashland homeless man acquitted in the Oak Knoll fire case, is back in jail this week after police say he threw rocks and yelled at two girls as they walked to Ashland Middle School Tuesday morning.

Thiry was arrested and booked at Jackson County Jail Wednesday on two counts of menacing and one count of harassment, all misdemeanors. His bail is set at $10,000.

The two girls, ages 12 and 13, told police they were walking along the city's bike path near Clay Street at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when a man approached them and began harassing them.

One of the girls was able to identify the man as Thiry, because she had seen his image in media reports about the Oak Knoll fire, she told police.

Thiry was throwing rocks at nearby railroad tracks and talking to himself when he first approached the girls, but then he began throwing the rocks at the girls and yelling at them, according to the police report.

"That caused them to become alarmed," said Sgt. Bob Smith with the Ashland Police Department.

One of the girls was hit twice with rocks but uninjured, he said.

When the girls got to school, they reported the incident and the school called police, Smith said.

The following day police located Thiry and arrested him, Smith said. Thiry told police he didn't recall throwing rocks at the girls, but that he had tossed rocks at the railroad tracks on Tuesday.

The harassment incident occurred not far from where investigators say Thiry ignited a grass fire on Aug. 24 that spread across Interstate 5 and destroyed 11 homes.

In the wake of the fire, Thiry was charged with 10 counts of recklessly endangering another and 14 counts of reckless burning. In December, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia found Thiry not guilty of all charges. Mejia said Thiry likely did start the fire, but prosecutors had not proven Thiry was aware of the risks, a condition necessary for Thiry to be considered guilty of recklessness.

Since his release from jail in the fire case, Thiry has landed in jail at least three more times. In addition to this week's incident, police have arrested Thiry for throwing a traffic pin onto Interstate 5 and drinking beer in public.

"We continue to have contact with John Thiry," Smith said, "because of complaints we receive."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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