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Cape man arrested on several charges after police chase
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- According to police, Douglas Mitchell sped away from the traffic stop because he thought they had a warrant for his arrest.
But they obtained one Thursday after they say the Cape Girardeau man's decision resulted in a high-speed chase in two counties, made more worrisome by the 3-year-old girl riding in his back seat.
Mitchell, 43, was charged Thursday with felony vehicle tampering, child endangerment and resisting arrest after the chase that began on a quiet Perry County highway and didn't end until two hours later in a Ste. Genevieve, Mo., field. Mitchell, who was also charged with misdemeanors for speeding and failing to drive on the right half of the road, was being held at the Perry County Jail on a $10,000 cash-only bond.
The charges carry a maximum 18-year prison sentence upon conviction. Mitchell hasn't yet had a court appearance scheduled, according to court records, or hired a lawyer.
Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf said high-speed chases never are a lawman's first choice, but sometimes they're necessary to protect the public, he said.
"There's no doubt it was dangerous," Schaaf said. "Anytime you have a high-speed pursuit on these roads, there's the potential for serious problems. You add in a child and it just has to be handled with extra caution."
The incident began when Deputy Benjamin Davis was driving south on U.S. 61 near Perry County Road 812. Davis, in a probable-cause statement he prepared, said he saw a red Buick Park Avenue traveling north at a high speed. Davis activated his radar, which showed the vehicle was traveling 60 mph in a 45 mph zone.
The driver of the car, a woman, pulled the car over just north of Perry County Road 908, the deputy wrote in the charging document. Schaaf also confirmed the woman and Mitchell started to date about a week before and were on their way to visit friends.
When the car stopped, Davis noticed the female driver, a male passenger and a small child in the back seat. He asked the woman to exit the vehicle and go to his cruiser, Davis said.
When Davis and the woman entered the deputy's car, Mitchell moved into the driver's side seat, roared the ignition to life and sped away, Davis said, leaving him confounded and the child's mother frantic.
Mitchell led Davis and his passenger on an erratic and dangerous chase that at times topped 110 mph, Davis wrote in his report. He drove north in the highway's southbound lane, veered into the middle of the road and dodged oncoming traffic, Davis said.
Mitchell passed other vehicles on the roadway, Davis said, despite "blinding hills and curves."
After about 10 miles Mitchell stopped the car, Davis said, when he saw Ste. Genevieve County deputies waiting for him. He jumped out, leaving the girl in the back seat, unharmed.
He ran into a nearby field, Davis said, but with the help of dogs he was found and taken into custody at about 10:30 p.m.
The girl's mother signed a statement that she did not give Mitchell permission to drive her car.
"You'd like to think that would be the end of that relationship," Schaaf said. "But you never know."
A few hours after the arrest, Mitchell told Davis he ran because he thought there was a warrant out on him. But after checking, Davis told Mitchell that wasn't the case.
U.S. 61 and Perry County Road 812, Perryville, MO
15 W. Ste. Marie St., Perryville, MO