A man suspected of shoplifting beef jerky from a Belltown convenience store Monday turned out to be wanted for murder in connection with a fatal crash in September, Seattle police said.
Curtis E. Jones, 47, was wanted on a $750,000 warrant for several charges, including second-degree murder, after he allegedly crashed a stolen pickup into a Belltown apartment building Sept. 18, while eluding police. A passenger, Sheila Helvie, 57, died 22 days later, and another passenger suffered a broken arm and leg.
Police say that just after midnight Monday, bicycle officers on Second Avenue were flagged down by an employee at Joe’s Mart who said a man outside the store had left without paying for beef jerky. After officers confirmed his identity, Jones was booked into the King County Jail.
Jones had been charged July 12 with vehicular assault, reckless endangerment and driving with a suspended license.
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Just before 6 a.m. Sept. 18, a patrol officer stopped at a red light at Battery Street and Second Avenue saw someone in the pickup, which was stopped in front of him, toss “two or three white bindle-like items out the passenger window,” charging papers say. The officer activated his patrol lights to stop the Toyota for littering, then chirped his siren three times when the driver failed to pull over, the papers say.
At first, the driver was obeying traffic laws, but then drove through a red light and began speeding in an apparent attempt to elude the officer, who stopped following the Toyota, charging papers say.
Emerging from an alley between Third and Fourth avenues, the pickup struck another vehicle, then crashed into an apartment building on the north side of Wall Street, the papers say.
All three occupants were trapped inside the pickup, which was reported stolen about two hours after the crash, the charges say.
A blood draw at a hospital determined that Jones had cocaine and marijuana in his system and a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, say the papers, which note that crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia were found in the truck’s cab.
Jones’ criminal history includes six drug convictions, 17 convictions for driving with a suspended license, burglary, promoting prostitution, theft and first-degree negligent driving, which was amended from a driving-under-the-influence charge in 2000, the papers say.
Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.