Police: Couple burned car to avoid getting in trouble for drugs, stolen vehicle

A car engulfed in flames on Barcelona Drive in St. George, Utah, Oct. 25 | File photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The pair accused of taking a stolen car to a usually quiet St. George neighborhood on Oct. 25 before one of them allegedly set it on fire was trying to avoid getting in trouble for using drugs, police say.

Samuel Lee Duncan and Jennifer Smith, who are both from Union, Missouri, were arrested and booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility after Duncan allegedly burned a stolen car they were driving in St. George, Utah, Oct. 25, 2018 | Photos courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Samuel Lee Duncan and Jennifer Smith, who are both from Union, Missouri, were driving the stolen sedan when it started breaking down in St. George, St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said. They drove it to Barcelona Drive near the intersection of Hidden Valley Drive, where Duncan then allegedly set the car on fire, Atkin said.

Read more: Car consumed by flames, explosions; couple spotted running away from scene 

Several witnesses at the scene told St. George News they saw the pair placing a gas canister in the front of the vehicle before the car started bursting into flames and exploding. No injuries were reported and no surrounding homes were affected by the fire, but the car was burned to a crisp after firefighters extinguished the flames.

“Because of the issue they were having with (the car) starting to not work, they chose to burn it to avoid getting in trouble,” Atkin said.

A boy at the scene told St. George News he saw the pair smoking marijuana before the car caught on fire then running away from the scene with several pieces of luggage. Their plan was to hitchhike away to avoid getting arrested, Atkin said.

Samuel Lee Duncan, of Union, Missouri, being arrested by the St. George Police Department after the stolen vehicle he was driving was consumed by flames in St. George, Utah, Oct. 25, 2018 | File photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

Methamphetamine was found inside the burned car by police officers, Atkin said.

Police quickly caught up to the suspects and arrested them about one block away from the fire. They were both booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Duncan was charged with felonies for theft and arson, as well as misdemeanors for giving false information to police, possessing marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Smith was charged with a felony for possessing a stolen vehicle and a misdemeanor for possessing drug paraphernalia.

At the time of this report, Smith has been released from jail while Duncan remains in custody with a $20,850 bail.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • DRT November 1, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    More rocket scientists…

    • KR567 November 1, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      LOL ! anybody need a babysitter ?

  • ladybugavenger November 1, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Curious why they weren’t charged for possession of meth that was allegedly found in the car, but were charged with marijuana possession that this article does not state it was found.

    • ladybugavenger November 1, 2018 at 10:38 pm

      Was the meth that was allegedly found in the car the only thing that didnt “burn to a crisp?”

      • Real Life November 2, 2018 at 10:13 am

        A whole new way to cook meth?

  • OrganizedChaos November 1, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    “What if there was a dead person in the car?” READ the article. There WASN’T. What if there was an alien standing by the car? Please, quit Horriblizing. STGNews does an amazing job of reporting things and posting pictures as they are. No sugar-coating, just real news. Seems to me that you may want to avoid this news source and go to the competing “newpaper” who will sweeten things up to your liking.

  • Mean Momma November 3, 2018 at 12:03 am

    Yep… spoken like a true Trump supporter. Heaven help us all!

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