ST. GEORGE — Police officers conducting a vehicle search in Washington City did not find narcotics when opening the trunk early Saturday morning — instead, they found a wanted suspect hiding inside.
Lauralee Lance, 34, and Elisha Hamilton, 28, both from Washington City, were arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility after an early-morning traffic stop by a Washington City Police officer on patrol.
Sometime after midnight, the officer stopped a vehicle, occupied by Lance and another unidentified woman, for having a brake light that wasn’t working. The officer recognized Lance, the passenger of the vehicle, from an unrelated call earlier in the day in which he responded to a residence in search of a suspect wanted for outstanding warrants.
While at the residence, the officer had told Lance that he was looking for Hamilton, and according to the probable cause statement, Lance allegedly told the officer she didn’t know where Hamilton was. The officer left shortly thereafter.
During the traffic stop on Saturday, the officer became suspicious due to the passenger’s “recent drug involvements,” and requested that a K-9 do a sweep around the vehicle. The dog indicated that there were narcotics in the vehicle, and a search of the car ensued.
Both occupants denied that there was anything illegal in the car, but when officers began the search and opened the trunk, they found Hamilton hiding inside. She was ordered out of the trunk and a records check confirmed there were four active warrants for her arrest.
Meanwhile, Lance was questioned by police and denied knowing that anyone was in the trunk of the car.
“I explained to Lauralee that the female we were looking for earlier in the day was the female that was hiding in the trunk of the vehicle,” the officer wrote in the probable cause statement.
Lance told police that while she was aware that Hamilton had warrants because of the earlier call, she didn’t know where the suspect was while talking with police, saying that it was later when she met up with Hamilton.
Lance told officers that she, Hamilton and the driver of the vehicle, had all been in the car together, but that at one point, she got out of the car for several minutes and when she returned, Hamilton was gone.
Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News that Hamilton was also interviewed, and told police that Lance knew she was hiding in the trunk before the car was searched. He also added that the two were sisters.
Hamilton reportedly hid in the trunk “because she knew she had warrants and was planning to leave that night, so she hid in the trunk hoping she wouldn’t get caught by police,” Klotz said.
Hamilton and Lance were arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility where Lance was booked on an obstruction of justice offense for allegedly hindering the officer’s ability to locate Hamilton, the investigating officer wrote in the statement. She was processed and released from custody shortly after.
Hamilton was booked on four outstanding warrants and remains in custody on a $17,447 bail.
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