11/18/10 — Crash victim linked to multiple break-ins

View Archive

Crash victim linked to multiple break-ins

By Gary Popp
Published in News on November 18, 2010 1:46 PM

Full Size

Wayne County Sheriff's Office

Dustin Ray Mitchell of Princeton died in this one-car crash on Nov. 3 while trying to elude a state Highway Patrol trooper, who had become suspicious when he saw the car pull out of a neighbor's house after midnight. The car flipped and struck a tree. Stolen property was found in the car and later at Mitchell's home. He has since been linked to a number of break-ins and larcenies in western Wayne County.

Full Size

Dustin Ray Mitchell

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office has connected a man who died eluding a state trooper to nearly 20 breaking and enterings in the county.

Dustin Ray Mitchell, 21, of Princeton, died Nov. 3 after his car struck a tree as he attempted to escape after an alleged robbery at the home of the neighbor of a state trooper.

On his way home from work, Highway Patrol officer Bennie Grady noticed an unfamiliar 1993 Mercury pulling out of his neighbor's home minutes past midnight.

"I noticed a car with its lights turned off coming out of the buildings in the backyard of my neighbor's home," Grady said. "I blocked the exit of the driveway to keep the car from getting to the road."

The trooper said he then exited his vehicle to get a better visual of the driver.

"The driver then floored it, spun his tires in the driveway, and drove across the yard and onto Rosewood Road," Grady said.

Mitchell never turned on his vehicle's lights as he fled from Grady.

"I returned to my car, and as I put my car into drive, he was already out of sight," Grady said.

As the scene around him changed quickly.

"At that moment, I assumed he was going to try to escape on foot or hide in the surrounding neighborhood."

When back on Rosewood Road, Grady decided to turn off onto a side street hoping to find Mitchell's vehicle.

The suspect had never turned off Rosewood Road, however.

He continued along the road until he flipped his car and struck a tree -- roof-first. The accident occurred less than a half mile from where he left Grady.

Soon after turning back onto Rosewood Road, Grady discovered the lifeless Mitchell and his twisted and mangled car.

Investigators estimate the car reached 100 mph on Rosewood Avenue and impacted the tree at nearly 80 mph.

Grady said the entire incident occurred in less than two minutes.

Following the accident, detectives from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office have found Mitchell was responsible for about eight residential and business break-ins, nine motor vehicle break-ins, 11 felony larcenies, nine misdemeanor larcenies and one injury to personal property.

The incidents occurred in the areas of Rosewood Road, Luby Smith Road, U.S. Highway 70 West, Pikeville Princeton Road and the Edgebrook Subdivision, according to reports.

Detective Rick Farfour estimated the value of the stolen property found in the vehicle Mitchell was driving to be more than $3,000.

Additional stolen property, valued at around $350, was found at the home where Mitchell was staying.

Some of the stolen property has been returned to the owners.

Mitchell was living on County Line Road in a building on the same property as a mobile home where his 2-year-old child, the mother of the child and her boyfriend resided.

Farfour said the group was living on the property unbeknownst to the property owner.

The vehicle that Mitchell was driving at the time of his death belonged to the boyfriend, Farfour said.

Sheriff's Office officials commended Mitchell's family for their willingness to assist in the investigation.

"His mother has shed a lot of light on the investigation," Farfour said. "She is a great lady who has lost a son and tried to help him while she could."

Sheriff Carey Winders said he appreciates the cooperation of Mitchell's family and wants to express his condolences.

"I can certainly sympathize with any family that loses a family member in such a tragic accident. It shows the great character of the family members that, even with their loss, they did the right thing and came forward with the information they had," Winders said.