The Dade County Sheriff's Department says a man who may have fled after crashing and burning a stolen sheriff's department patrol car turned in himself early Tuesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, Chris Peebles was not charged for taking the patrol car but he is charged with taking and damaging a car of a friend early Sunday morning.
Original report from July 28:
A man suspected of stealing a sheriff’s department patrol car on Sunday is now charged with stealing and ripping a door off a private vehicle just hours before he apparently crashed the patrol car. The Dade County prosecuting attorney charged Christopher Peebles, 26, of Greenfield with first-degree tampering with a vehicle.
The stolen patrol car hit the car of a woman on her way to church about 10:30 a.m. south of Greenfield. The patrol car rolled into a ditch and burned, and the driver fled on foot. As a videographer was taking video of the crashed patrol car, a man who said he is Christopher Peebles’ father arrived at the scene and told a reporter that his son is the one who took the patrol car. The father said he didn’t know where his son was.
According to a probable cause statement against Peebles, John Stockton called 9-1-1 at 6:24 a.m. Sunday to report someone stole his 1998 Silver Nissan Passport from Ruark Bluff East Campgrounds on Stockton Lake. Stockton later told Dade County Sheriff Max Huffman that he believed Peebles took the car. He said Peebles had been at the campsite with him and others, and Peebles was now gone, along with the car.
Huffman found the missing car about a half mile south of Peebles’ home at 95 S. Dade County Road 173. Huffman and a deputy went to talk to Peebles, whom they had to wake up.
“He talked freely to all of us,” the deputy wrote in the probable cause statement. “He stated that he was at the party at Ruark Bluff East and was taken there by his girlfriend, Amanda Garver.
“He said he was drinking very heavy and wanted to come home. He got the Passport from the campsite and said the keys were in it. He had trouble getting the driver door shut and he just tore it off leaving at Ruark Bluff,” the probable cause statement concludes.
Prosecuting Attorney Gary Troxell filed the tampering charge against Peebles on Sunday. On Monday afternoon, Peebles was not in the Dade County jail. If he is arrested, his bond will be $50,000. He could face a prison sentence up to seven years if he’s convicted of the tamper charge, which is often used by prosecutors for stolen vehicle cases.
Sheriff Huffman wasn’t available to give an account on Sunday about how someone stole the patrol car. The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the crash between the patrol car and the woman on her way to church, but did not post a description of the crash online as it does with most crashes on a state highway. The woman told the videographer at the scene that her airbags deployed and saved her life, and then some people from Greenfield stopped to help her.
A woman at the Dade County Sheriff’s Department said Monday that Huffman was out of the office all week and that no one in the office would talk to a reporter about the crashed, burned patrol car. The prosecuting attorney also was out of the office on Monday afternoon when a reporter had questions about whether Peebles might be charged for stealing and crashing the patrol car.