Troopers arrest 3 people suspected of leading police on extensive pursuit in stolen truck

File photo of a Utah Highway Patrol vehicle in St. George, Utah, Nov. 2, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Three people are facing multiple felony charges after allegedly fleeing from police in a stolen truck with a toy-hauler attached, triggering an extensive multiagency search by ground and air last week.

L-R: Brian Knowlton, 41; Sara Autumn Dickinson, 28; and Rodney Ian Watkins, 36. Booking photos posted in Washington County, Utah, April 16, 2019 | Photos courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The incident leading to their arrest began the afternoon of April 12 when a man called 911 to report that a snowmobile and utility trailer his family had reported stolen six weeks prior was observed in the Dixie Downs area of St. George being pulled behind a Dodge pickup truck.

Read more: Report of stolen toy-hauler in Dixie Downs area triggers extensive manhunt

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper traveling south on state Route 18 spotted the truck with the three suspects inside and performed a traffic stop on the vehicle. Before the officer reached the truck, the driver sped off.

The trailer being hauled behind the truck was found abandoned on a side road off SR-18 near Pine Valley. Inside officers found three snowmobiles and a motorcycle — all of which were reported stolen.

Not long after, a helicopter crew from Southern Utah University’s aviation program conducted an aerial search and located the Dodge, which appeared to have been ditched at the bottom of a canyon approximately 2 miles southwest of Pinto.

Shortly after 11 p.m., police located 28-year-old Sarah Dickinson, one of the truck’s occupants, walking along Pintura Road less than a mile east of SR-18. She was initially arrested on four outstanding warrants, as police had no evidence at the time that she was involved in the vehicle theft, saying she was an “unwilling passenger.”

Police questioned Dickinson who provided information on the two other suspects — 41-year-old Brian Knowlton, who was driving, and the other passenger, 36-year-old Rodney Ian Watkins. Both men had fled on foot after dumping the stolen truck in the canyon, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of Dickinson’s charges.

Knowlton was arrested Tuesday at a residence in St. George after several troopers responded to the location and found him sleeping. During an interview with police, Knowlton allegedly admitted to being the driver and said he knew the truck, trailer, motorcycle and snowmobiles were stolen.

Police say three snowmobiles and a motorcycle, all reported stolen, were found inside a stolen utility trailer, Washington County, Utah, April 12, 2019 | Submitted photo, St. George News

According to the police narrative written in support of his charges, Knowlton told officers it was Watkins who took the truck after looking through several other cars parked at a housing complex in St. George the night the truck was stolen.

Knowlton also allegedly admitted to driving the truck as the pair went to another complex in St. George that same night where Watkins took a motorcycle from a residence and put it in the trailer, telling Knowlton it was his.

Police also received information that it was Dickinson who allegedly provided the two suspects with information about the trailer and where it could be located, leading officers to believe she was, in fact, also involved in the crime.

According to police, Dickinson later said she knew the truck was stolen the night before the pursuit and admitted to telling Knowlton and Walton where the trailer was located.

Later that same night, Watkins was located and arrested by Washington City Police officers and booked into to Purgatory Correctional Facility. When interviewed, police say the defendant denied any knowledge of the thefts.

Knowlton and Watkins each face five second-degree felony counts of receiving/transferring a stolen vehicle and two third-degree felony charges, including theft by receiving and failing to stop or respond to the command of police. Knowlton was also charged with a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended or revoked license.

Dickinson faces four second-degree felony counts of receiving/transferring a stolen vehicle and one third-degree felony count of theft by receiving stolen property.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 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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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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