A 23-year-old accused man of murdering a 73-year-old in Lone Tree, Colorado, was arrested near Lusk, Wyoming, last week after a 10-mile car chase.
James Matthew Neal, 23, was allegedly rifling through unlocked vehicles in Wheatland, Wyoming, in the early morning hours last Wednesday, Wheatland Police Chief Doug Willadsen told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
The first theft report came in about 5:40 that morning.
A lot of Wheatland people don’t lock their cars, said Willadsen, adding that he hopes people will be more vigilant now.
“Please lock your stuff up. That would help me out a lot,” he said. “Maybe put the guns out of view so people aren’t so tempted to steal them.”
Neal took off in a white Ford Focus, which Willadsen said was also stolen. The police chief clarified that Neal is innocent until proven guilty.
Little did Neal know, the reportedly stolen iPad in the Ford Focus had its tracking application turned on, so Wheatland police and other law enforcement personnel could ping his every move, the chief said.
“Our officers relayed to the (Wyoming) Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s deputies in that area where he was pinging at,” Willadsen said. “They were able to track him down and a pursuit started.”
The Highway Patrol heard about the thefts at about 7:10 that morning, Trooper Shawncey Day told Cowboy State Daily in a Monday statement.
Troopers and a Platte County Sheriff’s Office deputy tracked the “stolen property” in the vehicle as it headed eastbound on U.S. Highway 18/20 near Manville, Wyoming, says Day’s statement.
Troopers initiated a traffic stop, but the Ford fled, accelerating to 130 mph at times. The pursuit went on for 10 miles until troopers stopped the Ford using a “tactical vehicle intervention.”
That maneuver involves a trooper just behind the fleeing vehicle nudging its left or right back corner to make the vehicle spin around – while a second vehicle joins from the other side to box the suspect in, Day told Cowboy State Daily in a follow-up phone call.
The chase unfolded on the last clear-weather day before a winter storm walloped Wyoming on Thanksgiving.
Wyoming authorities charged Neal with eluding police, possessing stolen property and drug possession, says Day’s statement.
Neal is in custody in the Goshen County Detention Center for now, as the jail in Lusk is under construction, Willadsen said.
An Older Man Dead In Colorado
Neal also is wanted in connection with the shooting death of 73-year-old Michael Lohmeier, Denver’s Fox News 31 reported.
Lohmeier’s sister told the news outlet that “Mike” loved to walk near the Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree and look at the mountains.
Someone shot Lohmeier to death through the driver’s side window of his light-blue 2009 Toyota Highlander on Nov. 4, the outlet reported. Police deemed the death a homicide.
Lone Tree is in the southern Denver metropolitan area about 261 miles south of Lusk off Interstate 25.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.