Man charged after leading police on high-speed chase

Published 8:48 am Saturday, March 14, 2009

What began as a routine traffic stop Wednesday night turned into a 15-minute chase in and around Murfreesboro, with speeds reaching more than 100 mph, according to Police Chief Darrell Rowe.

“Officer Donald Cuff attempted to stop a 2001 Dodge Intrepid on a traffic violation,” Rowe said. “The driver refused to stop and began to flee.

“Officer Cuff,” Rowe continued, “called for assistance and dispatch informed him the vehicle had been reported stolen from Raleigh.”

The pursuit lasted about 15 minutes, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph at times, Rowe said.

Murfreesboro Police Department Sgt. Jamie Dilday “was able to get in front of the fleeing vehicle and deploy ‘stop sticks’ to deflate its tires,” Rowe said. “That slowed the vehicle to 40-60 mph. The right front tire was completely destroyed, but the suspect continued.”

Rowe said several Murfreesboro officers who left their homes to join the chase, as well as officers with the Hertford County Sheriff’s Department, Probation and Parole officers, Chowan University Police and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, attempted to stop the fleeing car.

Eventually, Rowe said, authorities were able to box the suspect in on Highway 11 in the vicinity of the middle school, bringing him to a stop. “He was then removed from the car and placed in custody without incident,” the police chief said.

Arrested was Paul Speller, 17, of Raleigh, N.C. He was charged with possession of stolen property, speeding and fleeing to elude arrest “and several traffic offenses,” Rowe said.

Magistrate Doug Brinkley set a $50,000 secured bond.

“Throughout the chase,” Rowe said, “the officers showed the utmost professionalism and restraint.

“The suspect at one time tried to travel down the 115 bypass, going the wrong way against traffic, and officers actually used their vehicles to block his progress to force him into the correct lane, thus probably preventing a major vehicle crash.

“I’m very proud,” the chief said, “of the bravery the officers showed, and I’m very thankful for all the agencies that came to help us. Our citizens are very fortunate that all the law enforcement agencies work so well together to help ensure their safety.”