Archive for Wednesday, September 8, 1999

POLICE SEEKING IDENTITY OF THIEF

September 8, 1999

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Fingerprints might identify an unknown suspect in the wake of a carjacking and double-fatality accident.

Authorities are trying to learn the identity of a man who stole a car at gunpoint Monday night and then killed himself and the driver of another car when he sped through an intersection in western Miami County.

The unknown suspect and the driver of the other car, 19-year-old Richard Hall of rural Louisburg, died at the accident scene, 287th Street and Old Kansas City Road, about two miles north of Paola.

"It was obviously a high-speed collision," said Lt. Charles McCluer, of the Miami County Sheriff's Department. "He had one thought on his mind -- to get away, even though there wasn't a patrol vehicle in sight."

Miami County authorities are sending fingerprints to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation looking for a match.

The events leading to the deadly crash started about 5:45 p.m. Monday at 1415 Industrial Ave. in Ottawa. A man was mowing the grass at National Sign Company in the city's industrial park when he noticed that his 1998 Dodge 4x4 truck was missing.

"He didn't see the guy take it," said Ottawa Police Capt. Ron Puterbaugh, who said the truck could have been taken up to 45 minutes before it was reported stolen.

Less than half an hour later, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper spotted the truck, and pulled the suspect over in Miami County.

"He found out the truck was stolen, and the driver of the truck drove away and led the highway patrol trooper on a high-speed chase," McCluer said.

In an effort to lose the trooper, the driver left the road and drove through a rough, plowed field. He abandoned the truck running after it became stuck near a creek bed.

About 1/4 mile away, he reappeared, pointing a .22 pistol at three people as they pulled up to a rural Miami County house, about a mile south of Kansas Highway 68, McCluer said.

"They just pulled into the driveway and he carjacked them," he said. "He forced everybody out of the car, thank God."

The man sped away on 287th Street, heading east.

"We had the call immediately that a carjacking was in progress," McCluer said.

Within minutes, the suspect slammed into Hall's vehicle, killing himself and Hall before authorities were able to find him.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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