New Year’s chase ends with suspect’s death
Leavenworth County officials say driver was trying to hid methamphetamine — by swallowing it
Nobody expected that the driver of a car was filling up with meth.
Until the New Year's car chase ended.
The bizarre saga started when Bonner Springs police tried to stop a car early last Thursday, but the driver -- Carl E. Rhoades, 47, Topeka -- fled with his two passengers.
Three Leavenworth County sheriff's officers picked up the chase at 158th Street and Kansas Avenue, according to Major Dave Zoellner of the sheriff's department.
"The speeds were around 30 miles an hour," Zoellner said. "The vehicle wouldn't stop. It was running on a rim."
After a short pursuit, the disabled vehicle stopped and Rhoades, a former Linwood area resident, jumped out and started to run. Officers took Rhoades to the ground, put cuffs on him and rolled him over.
"His face was blue and his lips were blue," Zoellner said.
Attempts to revive Rhoades failed, and he was pronounced dead at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., from what Zoellner said was an apparent methamphetamine overdose.
Zoellner said the pathologist who examined Rhoades' body said he saw no evidence of trauma or injuries.
"He said he didn't see anything out of line," Zoellner said.
Although incidents on New Year's can run to the odd side, Zoeller said, "I think this goes to the top of the list. Generally you'll get one of a bad accident, an injury accident or you'll get a domestic. Or you'll get a party where shots have been fired and turned ugly. This is kind of bizarre."
Officers who were following Rhoades' vehicle said it appeared he was swallowing drugs as the chase was on.
"And during the chase, some items were being thrown from the vehicle," Zoellner said. "There's indication that the drugs that were being thrown out in bags had been bitten open and some of the powdery substance was gone. It appears the driver of the vehicle was swallowing the substance in the little Ziplock baggies and occupants of the vehicle were throwing items out of the vehicle."
An autopsy was conducted on Thursday, and Zoellner said officers are awaiting a toxicology report, which is expected in a few weeks.
Inside the car, officers found syringes, along with more than $6,000 in cash, a police scanner, scales and a night-vision scope that the driver used at one point when he was driving with his headlights out, Zoellner said.
He said the investigation is continuing.
"Somewhere along the line, there's a meth lab," Zoellner said.
Two female passengers -- a 37-year-old Topeka woman who was Rhoades' wife and a 40-year-old Bonner Springs woman -- were arrested on possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance. Court charges have not been filed against them, according to David Melton of the Leavenworth County attorney's office. Rhoades' wife has been released, but the other woman, Terri L. Pruitt, is being held on an earlier possession of marijuana case, Melton said.
Detective Vickie Hamrick of the Bonner Springs Police Department said officers tried to stop Rhoades because he matched the description of a suspect in a stolen property case.
"They tried to initiate a car stop, and he didn't stop, obviously," Hamrick said.