CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) – A 49-year-old Caruthersville, Missouri man is accused of taking a patrol vehicle and carjacking in Pemiscot County.
David L. Phelps, Jr. was charged with first-degree kidnapping, tampering with a motor vehicle and first-degree harassment.
Caruthersville police said on Tuesday, Oct. 8 around 8:27 p.m., they learned that a patrol vehicle was stolen while it was parked outside a local business on Truman Blvd. They said the officer was getting food on his dinner break.
After watching surveillance video, police said they learned that the suspect may have left town on Highway 84 heading toward Interstate 55.
The stolen patrol car and the suspect were then spotted on surveillance at two businesses in Portageville, Buddy’s Package Store and at Mike’s Auto Sales.
Portageville police learned the suspect went into Buddy’s and asked if he could buy a drink on the credit of the patrol car.
The store’s video shows the store clerk looking puzzled and the suspect walking out of the store after leaving the drink on the counter.
Police said the store clerk called her boss because she believed the situation was out of the ordinary.
After leaving the store, he left the patrol car behind Mike’s Auto Sales. Police said the suspect walked to a nearby neighborhood and made contact with a man. The man chased the suspect away. The man told police he witnessed the suspect getting into a woman’s car.
Portageville Police Sgt. Chris Rudd said the suspect made contact with a 62-year-old woman and forced his way into the passenger side of her car.
The suspect allegedly told the victim he had a gun and told her to drive.
“When I got the phone call I thought man this is gonna end badly. Already stole a police car and now he has a victim at random and you’re thinking the worst. You’re thinking this is gonna end badly,” said Sgt. Rudd.
Portageville police later found the abandoned patrol car still running, parked behind Mike’s Auto Sales. They said there was no damage to the car.
Police called the victim’s cell phone, pretending to be her husband.
The victim was told to speak if she was in danger.
According to Sgt. Rudd, the victim told the officer on the phone that she was going to Walmart and would be home soon.
The suspect then reportedly threw the cell phone out of the car window.
Police said they found the phone on Cypress St. in Marston, Mo.
Officers then tracked the victim’s car with the assistance of OnStar. After talking to OnStar, and learning the victim and Phelps were in the victim’s car and back in Caruthersville, they were able to pull the car over.
When Caruthersville police saw the suspect, they were able to identify him as the man who stole the patrol vehicle based on the previous video footage.
“Thank the good Lord that we was able to get our ducks in a row, able to get the vehicle located, and able to get on it pretty quick and able to take him into custody without incident,” said Sgt. Rudd.
Phelps was arrested and taken to the Pemiscot County Justice Center.
The victim and her vehicle were returned safely to their home.
Sgt. Rudd said the victim was not hurt, but she said she is devastated