NEOSHO — A former Neosho police officer has been accused of buying vodka for a 16-year-old girl who died in a car crash a day later with the vodka bottle in her vehicle.
Justin Keith Pickup, 23, was charged Thursday with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child. An arrest warrant was issued by the Newton County Circuit Court for Pickup, who authorities said has left the state, although they did not say where.
Investigators said Pickup told them he had a close relationship with the teenager and had feelings for her, but did not pursue those feelings because of her age.
The girl, Kassie Schenck, died of injuries from a car crash in the early morning hours of Dec. 21, 2006, the day after Pickup allegedly bought a pint of vodka and gave it to her.
According to court records, the girl’s blood-alcohol content was 0.12 percent at the time of the crash.
The charge was filed by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office after Newton County prosecutor Scott Watson recused himself because of a conflict of interest.
The Newton County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the case, said in an affidavit that the pint of vodka found in the girl’s car was traced to a convenience store in Goodman.
It said the clerk remembered Pickup buying the bottle and a store videotape showed the sale, although Pickup denied to investigators that he bought anything but beer that night.
A female friend of Schenck’s told an investigator that she drank the bottle with Schenck that night.
Investigators said that the mother of a friend of Schenck’s said that on the morning of the accident Pickup showed up at her house distraught, saying he had heard from police dispatch that there had been an accident and that he thought he could be in trouble.
If convicted, Pickup could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.