OREGON COUNTY -- What began as a routine theft case for Thayer Police Officer Frank Bernard ended with several law enforcement agencies in two states involved.
Bernard said he answered a call at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 12 from Tally Ho Motel owner Bob Crase. Crase said he thought that someone who had rented one of the rooms at the motel had stolen some merchandise. The officer said after arriving at the motel he searched a vehicle being driving by Michael A. Klem, 20, of Thayer and recovered several stolen sheets, pillows and towels. Bernard said he ran the ID of the man and discovered he was wanted on a Howell County warrant for a probation violation. The violation stemmed from a stealing charge in 2003.
Bernard said after discovering the probation violation he did a weapons search on Klem and discovered a brown prescription bottle containing what he believed to be methamphetamine. A field test on the contents of the bottle later revealed it was methamphetamine.
Bernard said he began to answer a call on his car radio when Klem took off on foot east toward some houses. All Thayer Police officers who were available Sunday morning began a manhunt but did not find Klem.
Around 9 that evening Mammoth Spring Police Officer Michael Davis received a call from William Tibbits that his brown mini van had been stolen from his residence at 8th and Archer Street in the city.
At 9:30 p.m. Oregon County Sheriff's Office received a call from an employee at the Koshkonong Mini Mart stating that a brown minivan had pumped $21.48 worth of fuel and driven off without paying. The mini mart employee observed the van traveling south on Highway 63.
Oregon County Sheriff Tim Ward chased the van and Thayer police officers set up a road block on the highway across from the Warm Fork Restaurant but could not stop the van.
Mammoth Spring Police Chief Michael Davis joined the chase at the Missouri-Arkansas state line. Davis said at times the van reached 80 mph and the driver was "driving crazy." Just before the Fulton County/Sharp County line officers with Sharp County Sheriff's Department set up spikes and blew the tires out of the van.
Davis said the van ended up hitting one and possibly two of the Sharp County patrol cars before coming to rest in a field. Michael A. Klem was taken into custody and transported to the Fulton County jail at Salem.
As of press time charges are pending in Oregon County but Ward said possible charges may include stealing, possession of methamphetamine and felony fleeing. Davis said Mammoth Spring charges will include felony vehicle theft, felony vehicular assault and felony fleeing.