A Phenix City woman said she's grateful for the vigilance of a Russell County deputy who spotted suspicious activity near the corner of Sandfort and Wright Roads Wednesday morning. His instincts ultimately led to the arrest of three teenagers and the recovery of a stolen vehicle filled with items taken from Donna Knowle's house on 30th Street. It's the second time her house has been broken into this week.
"The neighbor called and said she found some of my jewelry up at the stop sign. So my daughter went and got it. She thought it was from the first burglary, but when she came home, she found the whole side door busted in," said Knowles.
Barely an hour after the break-in Russell County deputies, with the assistance of Columbus Police, had three young men in handcuffs.
According to Sheriff Heath Taylor, the teenagers were in an SUV reported missing from Columbus in late January. His deputy likely interrupted their attempt to break into another house.
According to Taylor, they sped away as soon as they saw the patrol car and didn't stop until they crashed into a tractor trailer on Victory drive near 6th Avenue. Lee Stewart's truck was also involved in the accident. When the SUV stopped, he saw all four of its doors open up.
"And when they started running, I said, well I'm going to follow them. They're trying to leave the scene of an accident. I had reached down and dialed 911."
Stewart watched them discard their jackets in an effort to change their appearance. He caught up to them near a scrap metal yard, and for a moment, they obeyed his commands thinking he was a police officer. But they soon found out he wasn't.
"They got down, and I told them to stay there. The 911 operator asked me, 'Can you hold them there?' and 'Do you have a gun? and I said, 'No, I don't have a gun', and when I said that, they jumped up," said Stewart.
Stewart said he watched the two teenagers jump into a dumpster and bury themselves in garbage. When Columbus Police arrived, Stewart showed them where to look, and after considerable digging, they found the two teenagers deep at the bottom.
At 18-years-old, Tyanthony Edmonds is the oldest of the bunch. The rest are juveniles and we cannot release their identities.
"Sixteen, eighteen years old, I mean, where are these parents at? What are they doing?" asked Knowles.
Inside the SUV were flat screen monitors, televisions and video game consoles. Knowles said authorities were able to identify the stolen electronics as her property quickly because when she tried calling her husband's cell phone a deputy answered. He was making an inventory of the items at the time.
There is still one suspect who has not been found.
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