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Stolen car had baby inside; suspect arrested

Kenny Kemp
Charleston police swarm the One Stop convenience store on Greenbrier Street, where a vehicle carrying a baby was stolen Monday afternoon. The baby and vehicle were found a short time later.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston police located a stolen car with a baby inside about an hour after it was reported stolen Monday afternoon from a convenience store across from the Capitol.

Soon after, they arrested a suspect in the theft.

Police located the car with the 10-month-old inside on Wertz Avenue around 2:30 p.m. Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said the infant appeared to be unharmed.

Charleston police Lt. Shawn Williams said Chris Linville, 20, of Elkview, was arrested without incident at an apartment complex about a quarter-mile away from where the car was found.

"It was an all-hands-on-deck operation," Williams said. He said all available police units took part in the search for the car, as well as state troopers and Kanawha County sheriff's deputies.

Chief of Detectives Lt. Steve Cooper said Cpl. Tim Jarrett Jr., an off-duty officer, heard a description of the vehicle on a radio broadcast and spotted the vehicle abandoned on Wertz Avenue with the baby inside. He said the car and baby had been abandoned for nearly an hour when discovered.

"There was no heat and the engine was off," Cooper said. "The wind chill was negative 9 [degrees]."

Cooper said the baby's mother had left the child unattended only briefly as she stepped into the Exxon One Stop located on Washington Street, when Linville pounced.

"She didn't want to get the baby out of the car because it was 10 below zero," he said. He said mother and baby were doing fine Tuesday afternoon.

Police used dogs to track Linville, Williams said. Linville told police he uses heroin and methamphetamine.

Linville said he realized the child was in the vehicle a short distance after stealing it, and intentionally left the vehicle and child along Wertz Road, according to a criminal compliant.

He was arraigned in Kanawha County Magistrate Court on Monday evening, and was charged with kidnapping, child neglect and grand larceny.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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