Stolen SUV chased into wooded yard

Resident points out hideaway as police arrived at the scene.
Thursday, November 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:55 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

As she was sitting in her pajamas and baby-sitting her baby brother, the last thing Rachelle McCoy expected to see out her window Wednesday afternoon was a police chase.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Columbia police arrested Frank M. Ojeda Jr., 18, of Columbia, and Stephanie E. Houghton, 30, of Kansas City, after the suspects drove a stolen SUV through McCoy’s backyard at Old 63 and Hinkson Creek.

“I hear cop cars go by a lot, but when I saw a car pull into my driveway and enter the yard, I felt an adrenaline rush,” McCoy said.

Columbia police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said the pursuit began on Interstate 70, when an officer learned that the white, four-door Mazda Tribute with a missing front license plate and a spare tire on the front axle was stolen from Leavenworth, Kan.

After the car pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot on 415 Conley Road, Boyd Snoddy, 53, a 16-year-old male and a 15-year-old female, got out of the car and hurried away, police said. All three were immediately taken into custody.

Houghton stayed in the car, and Ojeda drove west and failed to stop when a police car following behind him turned on its lights, Monticelli said.

At the intersection of Broadway and Old 63, police said Ojeda headed south before pulling into a private drive in front of McCoy’s house.

A quick turn and a steep decline allowed Ojeda to temporarily leave the police’s line of sight.

Curious about the commotion, McCoy walked onto her front porch and saw Ojeda drive behind her house. As police cars quickly arrived, she gestured to the back of her house where Ojeda had driven the SUV into the woods and out of sight.

McCoy said she knew it was not safe to stay outside when officers pulled out their weapons.

Officers pursued Ojeda and Houghton up a bluff behind McCoy’s house and ordered them to stop. Houghton complied and was arrested.

Ojeda was arrested within a short time at Boone Hospital Center, about half a mile from McCoy’s house. Police said no one was injured.

The car, meanwhile, was lodged in the woods where tow-truck driver Galen Acton struggled to get it out.

“I’ve never removed a car in this position before,” he said.

Commenting on how the car could maneuver through such rough terrain, McCoy said, “I think a beaver chewed down some trees.”

Ojeda was arrested on suspicion of first-degree tampering, resisting arrest, careless and imprudent driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and endangering the welfare of a minor. Houghton was arrested on suspicion of second-degree tampering. Snoddy was arrested on suspicion of second-degree tampering and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Missourian reporter Elizabeth Phillips contributed to this story.

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