WASHINGTON COUNTY — Anyone who has ever thought of harboring a fugitive should probably think twice, as one LaVerkin woman found out Wednesday when she was arrested on a felony charge of obstruction of justice after allegedly harboring fugitive Joseph Elree Gessel.
On March 2, Adult Probation and Parole agents attempted to contact Gessel at the residence of 36-year-old Deborah Lynn Mullins, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in support of the arrest.
Agents spoke with Mullins, who allowed them into the home to search for Gessel.
“At this time,” the arresting officer wrote, “Deborah was informed Joseph had outstanding warrants and if she was to harbor or aid him, she would be arrested.”
On March 16, agents went to the home and met with Mullins again after learning Gessel was still staying at the residence, according to the statement. Mullins told agents she was leaving but allowed agents into the home to search.
“Upon a secondary search,” the officer wrote, “Joseph was located in the dining area adjacent to the kitchen behind a cardboard panel.”
According to the statement, upon further investigation of a cellphone in Gessel’s possession, agents confirmed Mullins knew Gessel was in the home and that she was attempting to conceal him.
Both Gessel and Mullins were arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Mullins was charged with a third-degree felony for obstruction of justice, while Gessel was arrested for two outstanding warrants, including a $5,000 cash-only bail for a third-degree felony and $2,500 cash or bond for a class A misdemeanor.
Mullins was released from custody on $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear before Judge Eric Ludlow in 5th District Court Tuesday afternoon for an initial court appearance.
As this report is published, Gessel remains in police custody.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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