Brittany Harper

Brittany Harper

Two Joplin residents were being sought by police in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, on Sunday in connection with a morning home invasion and kidnapping that may have been part of a larger crime spree.

Both remained on the loose and were being considered armed and dangerous.

At 7:58 a.m. Sunday, a male suspect, later identified as Blake Fitzgerald, 31, of Joplin, allegedly entered a home in the 2400 block of Monte Vista Drive through an open garage. He then allegedly confronted the father in the home, pulled a gun and demanded keys to a car in the garage, according to Lt. Kevin York, with the Vestavia Hills Police Department.

The mother came in to see what was happening, and Fitzgerald then allegedly forced her at gunpoint into the car, York said, where he was then joined by a female accomplice, later identified as Brittany Harper, 31, of Joplin. The suspects fled along U.S Highway 280, where they dropped the unidentified victim off unharmed at a local hospital.

No one in the home was injured.

The Jefferson County district attorney's office on Sunday charged Fitzgerald with one count of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree theft of property. Harper was charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree theft of property.

The suspects were last seen driving a 2010 Silver Ford Edge, license plate 2720AG7, the vehicle they had allegedly taken from the home earlier.

Anyone with information was being asked to call the Vestavia Hills Police at 205-823-1153, York said.

Vestavia is a suburb of Birmingham. Police also indicated that more charges are expected against Fitzgerald and Harper for similar crimes in nearby jurisdictions of Hoover and Tuscaloosa.

Andy Ostmeyer is the metro editor at the Globe. His email address is aostmeyer@joplinglobe.com.

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