Charged

Two Willow Springs residents, one of whom is on probation after a guilty plea, have been charged with multiple felonies after allegedly stealing a pickup truck and being found in possession of firearms and a debit card also reported as stolen.

Warrants have been issued for Ryan Dale Pettitt, 24, and Brittany Lynn Williams, 26; both are charged with a count each of stealing a motor vehicle, stealing $750 or more and stealing unidentified property, and three counts of stealing a firearm, according to court records.

Bond for each has been set at $10,000.

Willow Springs Police Sgt. Mike Huffman, in court documents, reported he investigated an alleged Feb. 1 theft of a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, a wallet and a rifle and pistol, all belonging to the same person.

Huffman said the theft happened on Scott Street, an area where other vehicle tampering and thefts had been reported.

During a traffic stop later initiated by Howell County deputies on the truck, several items were allegedly thrown from the vehicle, including a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol belonging to the truck’s owner. The second firearm, a Ruger American .223-caliber bolt-action rifle, has not been recovered, Huffman added.

Another Smith and Wesson handgun, a revolver, was recovered, along with a debit card belonging to the victim’s wife, allegedly used by Pettitt and Williams to make a purchase at the West Plains Walmart.    

Pettitt pleaded guilty in December 2019 to first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle and escape or attempted escape from custody while under arrest for a felony.

On July 26, 2019, Pettitt was arrested by Tpr. M. Chastain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Troop G, Willow Springs, after the trooper responded to a report of a stranded motorist on County Road 5640 and discovered Pettitt had eight active misdemeanor warrants. Charges on those warrants included failure to appear on charges of possession of narcotic equipment, failure to register a motor vehicle and other traffic violations and county charges of failure to appear on traffic charges.

A check of the vehicle Pettitt was driving at that time showed it had been reported as stolen out of Willow Springs.   

A woman with Pettitt during the trooper’s stop was released from the scene. Pettitt was allowed to remain out of handcuffs to smoke a cigarette since he had been cooperative, but while Chastain was checking the vehicle to verify Pettitt’s belongings were removed, Pettit fled into the woods.

A rifle was found in a fence line about 20 yards from the vehicle, Chastain added in his report.

Pettitt entered his plea on Dec. 5 and was handed a four-year suspended execution of sentence and five years of supervised probation. Court records show a warrant was issued for Pettitt on Jan. 28 for probation violation after he failed to appear in court on Jan. 6.  

The bond on that charge is set at $5,000, according to court records.  

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