After an hours-long chase Wednesday involving three stolen vehicles, Sequatchie authorities began piecing together a crime spree of burglaries, larcenies, forgeries and car thefts that spans at least two state lines and several counties in the region.
What began with a burglary-in-progress call about 4 p.m. CST Wednesday ended just before midnight when Sequatchie County Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock finished off the day’s third and final police chase by rear-ending the vehicle driven by one of the suspects.
But the chasing wasn’t done. The suspect took off and, after a foot chase, Clint Sparks, 29, of Hamilton County was taken into custody, authorities said.
On Thursday, in the light of day, law officials began the paperwork chain of linking three apprehended suspects to multiple crimes, ranging from aggravated burglary to reckless endangerment.
For now, Sparks — along with Marie Victoria Brown, 32, and Gary Russell, 24, both of LaFayette, Ga. — is being held in the Sequatchie County Jail with no bond.
“There will be warrants from at least Walker, Hamilton and Catoosa counties,” Hitchcock said, adding that he expects about 15 charges on each suspect from Sequatchie County alone.
The trio are suspects in the burglarizing of two homes, kicking in the doors “of a couple more” and stealing two vehicles in Sequatchie, the sheriff said.
“They are wanted in Hamilton County, Walker County, Catoosa County and East Ridge. They’ve been doing this for two or three months,” he said.
They face a preliminary hearing in Sequatchie County next week, Hitchcock said.
Fort Oglethorpe Detective James Leamon said Brown was booked by his department last week into the Catoosa County Jail on charges including first-degree forgery, entering an auto, burglary and credit card theft.
Leamon said officers charged her after a couple of elderly women complained that a woman and a friend had come to their homes saying they were looking for a lost dog.
The suspects would start talking to the homeowner and, after a brief conversation, they’d ask to use a restroom, the detective said. Once inside, one suspect would talk to the resident while the other was supposed to be in the restroom. Later, the homeowners noticed wallets, credit cards and jewelry were missing.
“We arrested her [Brown] on the [Dec.] 22nd. She bonded out on the 24th and was caught again yesterday, the 28th, in Sequatchie County.” Leamon said. “We also had arrested Sparks on similar charges in 2010. ... Sequatchie did a good job with this.”
The first of Sequatchie’s three car pursuits began Wednesday when deputies received a burglary call about 4 p.m. When they spotted the suspect’s vehicle, a black S-10 Chevrolet pickup, the chase was on.
But it soon ended when the truck spun into a field and crashed into a tree. All three suspects jumped out and ran, Hitchcock said. Officers soon captured Brown in a home where she had run in and begged to make a phone call.
Russell later was apprehended as he tried to hitch rides with passing drivers.
In a short time, dispatchers received a call that another black S-10 pickup had been stolen by a man police believe was Sparks. That chase, too, ended when the truck was abandoned and the driver fled.
But after about four hours with dogs on Sparks’ trail, police received another call saying that a Chevrolet Monte Carlo had just been taken. Hitchcock said police scrambled to block the road, but the driver of the stolen car “tried to run over three officers in their vehicles.”
When the third chase ensued, the driver led officers almost to the Van Buren County line before he tapped the brakes, causing the sheriff, who was close behind, to strike the Monte Carlo’s rear.
“It just busted the bumper. Nobody was hurt,” Hitchcock said.
After another short foot chase, officers took Sparks into custody, Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock said the first truck he and his deputies chased had been reported stolen in Hamilton County. Officers also recovered stolen items from inside the stolen vehicles, including a weapon from Bledsoe County, he said.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...