Ivor teen crime spree suspect

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sheila Epperley, secretary for Mill Swamp Baptist Church, stands next to the church's gymnasium, which a motorist drove through on Monday. MERLE MONAHAN/TIDEWATER NEWS

IVOR—An Ivor-area teen charged with felony eluding may have torched three vehicles, and driven through a church gymnasium and into a general store, both in the Ivor area.

The 16-year-old was arrested in Ivor, but was not identified because he is a juvenile, said Capt. Rick Gaddis with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t know the motive,” Gaddis said Tuesday. “We can speculate all day long.”

A chain of crimes began at 3:30 a.m. Monday when a deputy spotted someone driving a pickup without headlights in Smithfield. When the deputy attempted to stop the driver, the driver sped away. During a pursuit, the driver stopped and a young, black female got out of the truck and ran, Gaddis said.

The driver continued to flee until the pursuit ended on Great Springs Road, Smithfield. According to Gaddis, the driver got out of the truck and ran into the woods.

At 4:41 a.m., deputies were called to Sandy Mount Baptist Church on Scotts Ferry Road, Windsor, for two vans that were set on fire. The vans were destroyed, Gaddis said

Then, at 5:25 a.m., deputies received word that someone drove through the gymnasium of the Mill Swamp Baptist Church at 6329 Mill Swamp Road.

“We have a utility trailer; he hit that first,” said church Secretary Sheila Epperley. “Then he turned around and rammed the church bus, pushing it two feet. He then came through the double doors of the gym.”

I don’t think it was an accident,” Epperley continued. “The (double) doors are gone.”

The suspect left the gym by driving through a single-door, damaging the wall of the metal frame building, she said.

The building is insured, but a damage estimate was not available this morning, she said.

Twenty minutes later, deputies were called to Pons Store at 7458 Mill Swamp Road, Gaddis said.

Jimmy Carroll, whose wife leases the general store, said the driver drove across a neighbor’s yard and into the store.

“He pushed the wall in about a foot, knocked over a sink and knocked down a cabinet and microwave,” Carroll said.

The kitchen cannot be used due to the damage and may take a week before it’s reopened, he said.

Two minutes later, a 2002 white Dodge van was found burning at 8128 Mill Swamp Road. It too was destroyed.

A parked vehicle was struck on Hall Town Road just before 6:30 a.m. About 15 minutes later, someone tried to set a parked vehicle on fire on Scotts Factory Road in the Smithfield area. Sometime between 6:25 and 7:30 a.m., five mailboxes were reported damaged on Raynor and Comet roads.

Gaddis said it’s believed each crime is related because of times and proximity as well as several leads.