An 18-year-old Cherokee Village man wanted in connection with the theft of a car from a home on Canada Drive in April, made things a lot worse for himself when he fled from authorities May 20.
Richard Shawn Winters is charged with theft of property, a class B felony; theft of property by deception, a class D felony; residential burglary, a class B felony; and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor, all in Fulton County. In addition, he is charged with fleeing on foot, a class C misdemeanor, in Sharp County.
On April 30, Officer Shane Hightower took a report from Ray Vaira in regards to a theft at a home on Canada Drive. Vaira told Hightower three cars were taken from the driveway of the home. In addition, someone broke into the home and emptied boxes of items onto the floor, Hightower said. Car parts, a computer, three VCRs, a 19-inch flat screen TV, tools and car titles were also reported stolen, he said. Vaira estimated the total loss at $11,450.
A local resident then walked up and told Hightower he saw Cody Heddy and another person two or three days earlier pulling a car behind a late 1960s model blue GMC truck without a bed, Hightower said. The resident told Hightower he later saw the car at Anissa Curry's home on Guyon, he said. Vaira and Hightower then traveled to Curry's home and Vaira identified the car as one stolen from his home, he said.
Curry told Hightower she was not aware that the Ford Fairlane in her carport was stolen, Hightower said. She said she traded her 1967 blue Chevy pickup without a bed for the car, he said. She said the person she traded with, whose name was Shawn, agreed to work on the car for her, he said. She tried to contact Winters by phone to no avail. Further information then led officers to Hardy.
On May 3, Hightower spoke to Hardy Officer James Hutchinson who said they should speak with Rocky McCullen, a local mechanic and Winters' former employer, about Winters, Hightower said. McCullen said Winters had recently been fired for stealing from his business, he said. Hutchinson had charged Winters for the theft.
Later that day, Sharp County Deputy Kenneth Eldridge contacted Hightower and told him Winters had called his cell phone wanting to talk to him about Hightower looking for him, Hightower said. Winters admitted taking the Ford from Vaira's home, he said.
Winters said Curry showed him a title for the Ford and told him to pick it up for her, Hightower said. Winters said he and Heddy then loaded up the car and took it to her home, he said. He said he didn't know the car was stolen, Hightower said.
Winters said he abandoned Curry's pickup on a gravel road off of Pottawattamie Drive; however, Eldridge, Lane and Hightower were unable to locate the pickup in the area he described, Hightower said.
On May 4, Hightower met with Heddy at the police department. Heddy admitted that he helped move the Ford using Curry's pickup, Hightower said. Heddy said Winters went inside the house and got four wheels, he said. While Heddy stood in the doorway of the home he said he noticed it was trashed.
"Cody Heddy stated that Richard Winters showed him a title and said that he got the car from the bank," Hightower said.
Heddy said he didn't know anything about the other two stolen vehicles other than he had seen a tan or white older Dodge pickup with a trailer loading a gray or blue car about two months ago, Hightower said. Although he could not identify the suspects, he said there were two men and one woman, Hightower said.
On May 8, Sgt. Ric Morris spoke to Curry by phone. Curry said her truck had been found and was dismantled, Hightower said. When Morris arrived at Curry's house, he noticed the fenders, hood and doors had been removed, he said.
Officers continued to investigate the case and learned that Winters had been staying with Ty McCann at a home on Saratoga. McCann said he and Winters both dismantled the truck and were going to restore it, Hightower said. McCann said he didn't know the truck was stolen, he said. McCann let Morris search his home. Morris found the truck seat, two rims and tires and bolts to the truck, he said.
When Winters failed to meet with Hightower as previously scheduled, Hightower then filed charges against him in Fulton County. Around 3:30 p.m. May 20, Morris and Hightower went to McCann's home on Saratoga to contact Winters and arrest him on those felony warrants.
A 15-year-old female told Hightower that McCann wasn't home. Morris went to the back of the home and then noticed Winters run from the house into the woods, Hightower said.
Hightower and Morris then ran after Winters. During the chase, Hightower lost his collapsible baton valued at $74. It was not recovered, he said.
Hightower then contacted Sharp County Central Dispatch when Winters got out of sight. Sharp County Sgt. Stan Haney and Deputy Gerald Traw then patrolled the area along with Hightower. Deputy Gary Mitchell responded to the scene with his tracking dog.
The juvenile female was later found to be Winters' girlfriend, Hightower said. She gave Morris Winters' cell phone number. Morris was able to contact him and convince him to surrender, he said.
"Richard Shawn Winters stated that he did not want to go to jail for something he didn't do and that was his reason for running," Hightower said.
Winters was then transported to the Sharp County Jail at the request of Fulton County. He was then charged in Sharp County with fleeing on foot.
Hightower is seeking restitution for the cost of the baton from Winters.