Update: Three arrested after two separate car chases

HOWARD COUNTY - The Howard County Sheriff’s Office and dispatch barely caught their breaths after one adrenaline rush, when they were in the middle of another.
Two separate car chases, allegedly involving the same suspects, took place nearly six hours apart on Thursday, Oct. 28.
 
Car chase number one
On Thursday, Oct. 28 at 7:29 a.m., the Howard County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a citizen who was following three pickups, two Chevys and one Dodge, that were suspected of attempting to steal a trailer from Elma. The caller stated the pickups looked like they had other items in the beds of the trucks that could possibly be stolen.
The caller, along with several other vehicles, followed the three pickups east of Elma on gravel roads at a high rate of speed. Eventually the caller lost two of the Chevy pickups and kept following the Dodge. A deputy was dispatched to try to intercept the suspect vehicle but was out of position.
Sheriff Tim Beckman came on duty as the vehicles were approaching Protivin from the west. At 7:57 a.m., Beckman positioned his squad car head-on in the east-bound lane of 200th St. near York Ave., with full emergency lights on to try to stop the vehicle. It attempted to go around the squad car in the westbound lane. Beckman then made contact with the suspect vehicle to get it to stop.
The driver was arrested without incident and identified as 42-year-old Jesse James Devlaeminck from Rochester, Minn.
The 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 he was driving was reported stolen out of Fillmore County, Minn.
Devlaeminck was charged with 1st degree theft, reckless driving and cited by the Iowa State Patrol for having no valid driver’s license, passing contrary to highway markings, fail-ure to yield to an emergency vehicle and fraudulent use of registration.
The pickup received minor damage, and the 2016 Ford Utility Interceptor owned by Howard County received disabling damage. Neither party received injuries from the crash. 
Assisting the Howard County Sheriff’s Office at the scene was the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa State Patrol and Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement.
Car chase number two
Later that day at 1:50 p.m., the Howard County Sheriff’s Office received a call that one of the white Chevy pickups from the earlier incident in Elma was at the AV Express in Alta Vista. 
“The timing couldn’t have been better,” Sheriff Beckman said. “I was in Elma on a follow-up to the earlier incident.”
And the chase was on.
Beckman started towards Alta Vista to find the vehicle. The caller reported back, stating they just left westbound out of Alta Vista towards Deerfield and back north on a gravel road into Howard County.
At 2:09 p.m., Beckman located both Chevy trucks on Lincoln Ave., north of B17, west of Lourdes. He activated his emergency lights and siren, but neither truck stopped. Both vehicles were pursued at a high rate of speed on 175th St. At one point, one of the trucks went in a ditch and drove back out, slowing it down a bit. At Robin Ave., one truck went south and the other went north. 
The sheriff pursued the southbound pickup. When the pursuit reached  the Chickasaw County line, 100th St., the pickup entered a harvested bean field and continued through the field. The vehicle then left the field southbound on Randolf Ave. 
Beckman later commented, “He drove it like he stole it, and he did!”
At 2:26 p.m., Beckman lost sight of the vehicle briefly. He stopped to ask a farmer if he had seen anything, with a negative response. Then he noticed fresh tracks in a standing cornfield leading directly into corn that was knocked down at the intersection of Randolf Ave. and 110th St. in Chickasaw County.
The sheriff entered the  field and located the white Chevy truck, but the driver had abandoned it. He waited for Deputy Rich Hollenbeck to arrive to approach the vehicle. 
K-9 units from Mitchell and Bremer Counties were on stand-by. A large-scale search of the area was conducted by law enforcement. 
Cresco Fire Department, which had recently purchased a drone, located the driver hiding in the field at 3:54 p.m. The K-9s and their handlers stayed outside the field while the Sheriff’s Department warned the suspect officers were going in. A short time later, 36-year-old Nathaniel Thompson from Mankato, Minn. was arrested. 
The white 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 that Thompson was driving was reported stolen out of Mitchell County. Also arrested was the passenger, 38-year-old Eleana McDonough from Willmar, Minn.
Thompson, who had just been released from prison in July, was charged with felony eluding, 1st degree theft and 3rd degree burglary, and McDonough was charged with 1st degree theft and 3rd degree burglary.
The rear of the pickup contained items that were reported stolen earlier in the day from Elma.
Also assisting at the scene were the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office, Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office, Cresco Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement, Iowa DNR Law Enforcement and Howard County Emergency Management.
(Both incidents are ongoing investigations, and more charges are expected, as well as more defendants.)
 
Driver number three
The third driver may have gotten out of Howard County without going to jail, but he wasn’t that lucky in Goodhue County, Minn. The suspected co-conspirator was apprehended in Red Wing in the same vehicle that was seen in Howard County.
Drone
Cresco Fire Department’s drone had its maiden voyage in a stressful application, and pilot Wayne Kerian said it performed flawlessly. Also helping on Oct. 28 was Marshall Rogne.
It took just 3-4 minutes to locate the suspect in the cornfield by using thermal imaging.
“It was awesome,” Kerian said. “It helped that it is fall and the leaves shrank. Also the cool, rainy day made the body heat stand out more. We could even make out the shoes and jeans he was wearing.”
Kerian explained the department has had the drone since about August. Since then, the fire department’s seven pilots have practiced on 20 flights, each one lasting about two hours.
The firefighters were flying the drone from about 200 yards from where the suspect was located. That is nothing compared with the 4-5 miles they have flown it on practice runs.
“We were ready. We would not have accepted the request if we didn’t feel extremely confident in our abilities,” he added.
 
More evidence
All three vehicles were stolen, one from the Chatfield, Minn. area, one from Mitchell County and no word on the third.
A trailer was recovered in Forest City that is suspected of being tied to this ring of thieves. 
A car was left in Elma that may have been a back-up for the crew.
Another trailer was also found.
 
Additional comments
Deputy Hollenbeck said, “We don’t endorse following suspects, but we are grateful for the help. You just never know how dangerous a suspect can be. We’re glad it turned out like it did.”
Sheriff Beckman agreed. “You just don’t know what they are capable of.”
The officers noted a high percentage of criminals have mental health and substance abuse issues. In addition, they are usually career criminals.
Beckman said, “The last time we had a spike in thefts was in 2008.” It comes in peaks and valleys.
The sheriff is appreciative for his staff of deputies and dispatchers. “The dispatchers did a great job. They were worried for our safety and still did their job.”
Beckman had a piece of nearly every aspect of the pursuits and arrests. After the last bit of adrenaline wore off on Thursday evening, Deputy Shane Thorsten joked with the Sheriff, “You know you’re not eligible for ‘Employee of the Month!’”
The moral of this story is if you are a bad guy, don’t mess with the Elma Mafia . . . or Howard County Law Enforcement!
(Elma Mafia is a term used for over 40 years referring to residents of the town.)

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Address:
Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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