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 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.
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.
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.
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