Casper Police Examine Changes After Finding 95-Year-Old in Trunk
After a 95-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted, kidnapped, bound with duct tape and put into the trunk of her own car on Tuesday, Casper police have outlined what led to her remaining in the trunk for hours after officers took possession of the vehicle following a police chase on Tuesday.
Detective John Hatcher told K2 Radio News on Thursday afternoon that the department will look at how such situations can be avoided in the future.
"If we had known of the circumstances, we would have definitely, immediately gotten into that trunk," Hatcher said.
Kyle McCabe Martin, 20, was arrested Tuesday on six felony charges and had his bond set at $500,000 Wednesday.
Charging papers say he was suspected of burglaries and vehicle thefts, and was trying to evade authorities on Tuesday when he broke into the 95-year-old victim's house, assaulted her and put her in the trunk of her own car before leading police on a chase into Evansville.
Police say Martin got out of the car and locked it before he took off on foot. Officers chased him down and took him into custody.
At that time, police were unaware that the victim had been kidnapped.
"We had no indication that this vehicle was stolen, that there had been any kidnapping or burglary that had happened earlier in the day. We had no information on that," Hatcher said. "[Martin] strictly was a suspect in burglaries and vehicle thefts."
After the chase concluded on Tuesday, officers sealed the vehicle, per standard practice. In such cases, Hatcher said, officers wait for a search warrant before searching the vehicle to determine if it was part of a crime.
When the vehicle was sealed on Tuesday, the victim was still in the trunk. Several hours passed before a relative of Martin's called police and told them it was "extremely urgent" that they search the trunk.
Police said on Tuesday that the victim was found bound with duct tape, and had suffered multiple cuts to her head. She was taken to Wyoming Medical Center and was in stable condition as of Wednesday, according to police.
As for the right to search a vehicle, Hatcher says vehicles are exempt from restrictions on searches or seizures. But, "everything is cleaner if it's through a search warrant."
"It's sometimes just better to go ahead and get a search warrant signed by a judge so that you don't lose any evidence," Hatcher explained. He added that officers can get the owner's permission to search the vehicle, but a defense attorney can later argue that such consent was coerced or otherwise obtained inappropriately.
"A lot of times we try to err on the side of overdoing things to make sure we don't lose evidence," Hatcher emphasized.
"Policies are always evolving and changing" as a result of such incidents, Hatcher said.
"We will definitely be looking into how this can be changed in the future," Hatcher added.