Hostage case goes to higher court


For The Daily News

ESCANABA – A Flat Rock man, accused of holding his wife hostage at gunpoint earlier this month was bound over Thursday to Delta County Circuit Court, where he may make a plea or go to trial on four felonies.

John Joseph Sarasin, 62, appeared in Delta County District Court for his preliminary examination Thursday.

The victim testified Sarasin prevented her from leaving their home by pointing a pistol at her and telling her he was going to kill her. He also prevented her from making a call to 9-1-1 for help.

After determining that crimes had been committed and there was probable cause that Sarasin was involved in the crimes, Judge Glenn Pearson bound Sarasin over to the higher court on four counts.

Sarasin is charged with unlawful imprisonment (a 15-year felony), felonious assault (a four-year felony), committing a felony while in the possession of a firearm (a two-year felony), and interfering with electronic communications (a two-year felony).

According to the victim’s testimony, the couple had been married for 41 years and had marital problems. On July 9, the day of the incident, they had an argument about her leaving him, she said.

When she brought her duffle bags downstairs, Sarasin pointed a pistol at her and told her, “I’m going to shoot you,” she told the court.

The wife testified her husband was angry and upset and kept asking her where she wants to be shot – in the head or chest. When she tried to call 9-1-1, her husband hung up the phone, she said.

Because her phone call got through to 9-1-1, dispatchers kept calling their home phone, the victim explained. At one point, John told the dispatcher if the dogs bark, he will shoot her, she told the court.

When their son called, Sarasin went into another room to talk to him. The victim said she ended up with a phone in her possession and talked to her son who told her to get out of the house and lock herself in the garage.

When she went outside, police were on the scene. Sarasin had held her hostage for three hours before she managed to escape.

The Delta County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to the home at 5:40 p.m. with several other police agencies also responding. Officers helped get the female hostage safely out of the residence at around 8:30 p.m.

After a six-hour standoff with police, a Michigan State Police hostage negotiator talked Sarasin into surrendering.

Sarasin remains lodged in Delta County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Other agencies assisting the sheriff department during the standoff included a state police SWAT team from downstate, Escanaba Public Safety, Gladstone Public Safety, Escanaba Township Volunteer Fire Department, and Rampart Emergency Medical Services.

During a separate preliminary hearing in district court Wednesday, Sarasin’s brother, Daryl John Sarasin, 64, of Cornell, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor of being disorderly.

He was originally arrested at his brother’s home for interfering with police investigating the hostage incident. He was charged with one count of assaulting/resisting/obstructing an officer, Ed Oswald, the undersheriff. That count was dismissed Wednesday in exchange for the no contest plea.

Judge Pearson ordered Daryl Sarasin to pay $325 in fines and costs. He had been released from police custody on July 10 after posting bond.