By Jeff Lehr
Sgt. David Trimble of the Newton County Sheriff’s Department wasn’t born yesterday.
Trimble thought he recognized the man he spotted hiding under some leaves behind a downed tree 30 feet from a wrecked 1980 Dodge car that he and state troopers had pursued Wednesday morning.
He was relatively sure the man was Walter L. Schulz, 26, the reputed “Honkies” gang member who reportedly yanked a chest tube and left a Joplin hospital Jan. 2 in apparent effort to avoid arrest.
After all, the guy had a cast on his leg consistent with a description of injuries Schulz suffered in an accident with a stolen vehicle Dec. 28 south of Joplin. Still, the suspect who Trimble collared in some woods in the Whispering Hills subdivision after the pursuit Wednesday morning insisted he wasn’t Schulz.
But, the clincher came when officers lifted the suspect’s shirt. They discovered a tattoo across his stomach that read “Schulz” and a hole in his upper torso where a chest tube had been, Trimble told the Globe.
A wild, and most likely painful, couple of weeks on the lam finally had come to an end for Schulz, who managed to bail out of custody in Cherokee County, Kan., in mid-December despite having an unfinished federal prison sentence. Schulz reportedly was being treated for an injured arm, ankle and broken leg from the accident two weeks ago.
He and James E. Colley, 24, of Joplin, initially were taken Wednesday morning to St. John’s Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries they suffered in Wednesday’s chase.
Colley was the driver and Schulz a passenger in the car a state trooper tried to stop for expired plates at 10:23 a.m. in the Greenwood area southwest of Joplin, according to Sgt. Kent Casey of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The car sped away and a chase ensued, with Newton County deputies called in to assist. Colley reportedly bailed out of the driver’s seat on Whispering Hill Drive, just north of Cherry Road, with the car still going an estimated 30 mph and suffered minor injuries. But Schulz reportedly slid into the driver’s seat and continued to flee the pursuers.
The first state trooper stopped to place Colley under arrest while three other state troopers and two deputies continued after Schulz, who crashed the car into some trees about 500 feet down the road and then got out and fled toward some woods, authorities said.
He didn’t get far with his injuries, Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said.
Schulz was turned over to U.S. marshals after initial medical treatment on a warrant for flight to avoid prosecution.
“He’ll be in federal custody,” said John Spray, supervisory deputy marshal for the U.S. Marshals Service office in Springfield. “We’ll bring him to a hospital here in Springfield and put guards on him.”
Schulz has about 151 months left to serve on a federal conviction for possessing a firearm as a felon. Casey said he also will be charged by the state with being a parole absconder, refusing to identify as a witness, implicating another in a crime, possession of a controlled substance allegedly found on his person, driving with a revoked license and failure to wear a seat belt.
The seat belt may be the least of his legal problems, Casey said.
Colley was charged with felony resisting arrest, harboring a fugitive, possession of a controlled substance allegedly found in the car, careless and imprudent driving, and failure to register a vehicle. He was to be taken to the Newton County Jail after medical treatment.
Sgt. Kent Casey of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said authorities did not know Wednesday whether James E. Colley is associated with the Joplin gang known as the “Honkies.” Authorities say the gang is composed of Caucasian men with criminal records.
By Jeff Lehr
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