Trooper: Car thief suspect burns house down

Janie Potter, 32, of La Plata, Mo.

UPDATE #2: The suspect in a Kirksville car theft and an arson fire in S. Gifford, Missouri, was formally charged with two crimes Friday afternoon.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the suspect is Janie Potter, 32, of La Plata.

The Macon County Sheriff's Office told KTVO Potter faces felony charges of arson and tampering with a motor vehicle.

She is being held in the Macon County Jail on $9,000 bond.


UPDATE: We have now learned the suspect is a 32-year-old woman from La Plata, Mo. She is in the Macon County Jail on 24-hour hold pending the filing of formal charges. She is expected to be charged tomorrow with the felonies of arson and tampering with a motor vehicle. We will release her name as soon as we learn that charges have been filed against her.


A woman who stole a car from a Kirksville hotel Thursday afternoon is also suspected of burning down a mobile home in South Gifford.

Half a dozen fire departments from Macon and Adair Counties rushed to the home of Donald Schultz off Highway 156 on the east edge of South Gifford when the fire was reported just after 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Despite their efforts, the double wide mobile home is a total loss.

Schultz was at work when the blaze started, and no one was injured as a result of the fire.

According to state troopers who were investigating a Kirksville stolen car case, the woman suspected of taking a car from the Holiday Inn Express wrecked the vehicle about three miles east of South Gifford after driving on a flat tire and eventually just the rim.

Kirksville Police Detective Jeremy Cordray told KTVO the car theft appeared to be random. He said it belonged to a hotel employee.

The suspected car thief then flagged down a Good Samaritan who gave her a ride to Schultz's house. The man who gave her a lift told troopers the woman went into the house and came back out a short time later. That is when the house started burning.

The Good Samaritan tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire.

A state trooper went to Schultz's home where he arrested the woman and took her to the Macon County Jail for processing.

Investigators have not released the suspect's name at this time, and it's still unclear why the woman requested to be taken to Schultz's residence.

In the meantime, the Red Cross is being notified to provide assistance to Donald Schultz.

Fire departments from La Plata, Atlanta and Bevier responded to Thursday afternoon;s fire, as well as rural departments from Adair County and Macon.

A Macon County ambulance was also standing by at the scene.

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