Rose bush helps end crime spree, after three high speed chases

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A rose bush thicket and persistent investigation by the Butler County Sheriff’s Department helped end a crime spree early Wednesday morning involving two stolen vehicles, three high speed chases — one involving a private citizen — and a daylight home invasion, in which the residents were home.

Melissa Kay Burns, 30, of Poplar Bluff and Gary Dewayne Goodwin, 34, of Wappapello were arrested shortly after 1 a.m., officials report, following a high speed chase with deputies that resulted in a vehicle crash.

The pair attempted to flee on foot, but got caught in a rose bush thicket along County Road 534, said Butler County Chief Deputy Wes Popp.


They were treated for minor injuries, including scratches from the rose bush, before being booked at Butler County jail on charges of resisting arrest and warrants. Additional charges are expected.

Deputies believe they first came into contact with the pair when suspicious activity was reported Nov. 7 in the areas of county roads 465 and 466. Witnesses reported individual(s) a in black Dodge Charger with an Illinois license plate.

A deputy located the vehicle and pursued it, but ultimately stopped the chase because of safety concerns, including rain and the innocent bystanders, Popp said.

Suspicious activity involving a black Charger was again reported Nov. 7 in the area of Westmoore Apartments, where residents said someone was going through vehicles.

A home invasion was reported around 12:30 p.m. Nov. 7, in the 200 section of County 527, Popp said. Jewelry was taken while the residents were home, he said. The suspects did not come in contact with the residents inside the home, but a black Charger was again reported.

Around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, a 2008 Hyundai Elantra was taken from the home of Andrea Sullivan in the area of Oakmoore Drive.

Investigations surrounding this vehicle theft would later lead deputies to the black Charger, and the arrests of Burns and Goodwin, Popp explained.

“The Elantra was spotted in the late morning at Northwest Medical Center, where individuals were reported going through vehicles,” Popp said.

The suspects were spotted by one of the vehicle’s owners, as the individual exited NMC, he said.

The suspects allegedly fled in the Elantra.

“The victim pursued (the Elantra) in their own vehicle,” Popp said. “They chased them down Barron Road, to Highway W, while on the phone with 911.”

Deputies located the Elantra in the area of KK and W highways, but lost sight of it, he said.

An area search was conducted, which located a black Dodge Charger belonging to Burns in the area of KK and W, Popp said.

A 1988 Toyota Landcruiser was later reported taken Tuesday from the area of County Road 504 in the Williamsville area, Popp said. The theft was discovered after the owner returned home from work in the evening, he said.

It was 1 a.m. Wednesday morning when deputies, who had actively been searching for both Burns and the stolen vehicles, came in contact with the pair.

They were driving a silver Ford Taurus in the area of County Road 534, according to reports from Deputy Austin Dunlap.

Dunlap pursued the Taurus at high rates of speed, Popp said.

“As they were attempting to elude the officer, (the driver) missed a sharp left curve and went straight into the woods,” Popp said, adding Burns and Goodwin attempted to flea on foot, but “ran into a rose bush thicket and were unable to get away.”

Burns is also being held on two probation warrants for the original charges of forgery and stealing, each carrying a $20,000 cash only bond.

Goodwin, who officials say was released within the last month from prison, is also being held on a Probation and Parole violation, with no bond.

After interviews with the pair, deputies report recovering both the Elantra and the Landcruiser.

Both have been returned to their owners, but had body damage, Popp said. The vehicles were recovered from a wooded area, he said. Authorities believe damage was done to both vehicles from striking trees as they were driven into the woods.

The Taurus had not been reported stolen, Popp said.

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