By Jackie Nelson
The Hesston Police Department got off to a busy start in the New Year. Officer Chris Carter’s New Year started off with a routine traffic stop that soon unfolded into a case involving two stolen vehicles and several vehicle burglaries.
According to Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder, Carter pulled over a 2008 GMC Acadia, driven by Jessica Fitzgerald, 26, of Ellsworth, on Lincoln Blvd. for erratic driving. Officer Carter soon discovered the vehicle had been stolen from Hesston resident Brandy Quinn.
“It was 5:30 a.m. on January 1 when he saw an erratic vehicle and he suspected a possible DUI. Upon asking a few questions, he discovered the vehicle had just been stolen. The driver did not know the owner and had taken the vehicle without consent,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder said the police department investigated further and connected Fitzgerald to more crimes.
“She was also booked in Harvey County on theft a second time. A second vehicle, stolen from Wichita, was found by a State Trooper outside of Hesston,” said Schroeder.
Fitzgerald can be linked to additional crimes in Hesston.
“She was linked to two other burglaries in Hesston prior to being in possession of the stolen vehicle. Those cases are #14HS0007 and #14HS0008. Her booking has reflected the additional felony charges and we are still investigating whether other auto burglaries from that night can be contributed to her,” said Schroeder.
The same evening,
Schroeder said a male suspect who had a connection to Fitzgerald may be responsible for a separate vehicle theft in Hesston.
“We think her associate was responsible for the theft of the Ford 4x4 on Streeter,” said Schroeder.
The 1997 Ford Extended Cab 4x4 was reported stolen by Brett Dillon.
The suspect in the Ford theft was located and arrested on an out-standing warrant, unconnected to the vehicle theft.
“He has been arrested in another jurisdiction on separate charges,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder added the Hesston Police Department would not release the male suspect’s name.
“Right now we feel it would be detrimental in our investigation to release his name,” he said.
Harvey County Prosecutor David Yoder said Assistant Attorney Jason Lane was the first to handle the case.