A man taken into custody last week as a suspect in connection with the thefts of three vehicles and three trailers was reportedly found submerged in a hot tub in subzero temperatures on Valentine's Day, and taken for treatment of frostbite to Ozarks Healthcare.
He then allegedly left the hospital and eluded authorities until Feb. 17.
Jeremiah Dean Partee, 42, listed as a Nixa resident in court documents, is charged in Howell County with three counts of stealing $750 or more and two counts of stealing a motor vehicle. All five charges, filed Tuesday, are related to thefts in Missouri and Arkansas spanning four days.
Partee was arrested Feb. 17 by Baxter County, Ark., deputies after a vehicle and foot chase that began in Ozark County and ended in Mtn. Home, Ark.
At 9:47 p.m. Feb. 13, Howell County Sheriff's deputies were reportedly dispatched to a home on JJ Highway, told someone was seen driving a truck away from the location without the permission of its owner, who stated he had grabbed a handgun in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the theft.
The next morning the sheriff's department got a call that a man was in a hot tub located on a patio in the Arrowhead Lakes subdivision, and the homeowners didn't know who the man was. Deputies found Partee in the hot tub, submerged in water while the temperature, they noted, was around zero degrees with wind chills below zero.
Not yet a suspect in the vehicle theft, Partee was reportedly taken into custody for his own safety, and questioned about a pickup truck and trailer seen parked at a nearby home as he was being taken from the scene.
Partee allegedly said the truck was his, but didn't know how the trailer got attached to it; the truck was later discovered to be the one stolen the night before, reported missing from Endurance Church on Worley Drive and valued at $1,800.
Partee was given dry jail clothing at the Howell County Jail and taken to Ozarks Healthcare where he was to receive treatment for frostbite, but walked out before treatment was rendered, authorities said.
Lt. Torey Thompson, a deputy with the Howell County Sheriff's Department, noted in a document submitted to prosecutors that Partee seemed to be taking refuge in the hot tub in order to keep warm in extreme cold weather, and his actions seemed to be caused by drug use, mental health issues, or both.
Home surveillance footage provided by a neighbor of the victim to law enforcement showed a man wearing “the exact same clothing” Partee was in at the time of his arrest, according to Thompson.
On Feb. 16, Cpl. Ivie Powell responded to Southern Hills Shopping Center to take a report from a man who said he left the keys to a red 2008 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck while he and his wife were in a store, and noticed the truck was gone when they exited the store.
By that time, Partee was reportedly a suspect in a similar theft in Baxter County and named as a person of interest in the theft of the Dodge.
At 4:47 a.m. Feb. 17, Detective Bryan Brauer responded to an attempted theft of a 2021 car hauler valued at $10,000 from South 63 Motors on Broadway, found in the road at the intersection of Broadway and Lincoln Avenue near the business. About an hour later, he was called to the theft of a 2019 car hauler trailer valued at $6,250 from Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply off of Worley Drive.
It was determined the vehicle seen in video footage of the thefts had been reported as stolen out of Baxter County, said authorities. Later that day, Ozark County deputies were involved in a vehicle chase that ended with a pickup truck and attached trailer being wrecked and abandoned in Lick Creek and the alleged driver, Partee, fleeing the scene.
The truck was found to be the one reported stolen from Southern Hills Shopping Center, and the attached trailer stolen had been reported stolen from Ozark County.
After crashing the truck and running on foot, Partee reportedly stole a Ford Taurus nearby. He was arrested later that day following a chase by Arkansas authorities that reportedly ended with Partee wrecking the Taurus and trying to flee into a Mtn. Home hotel room.
During a law enforcement interview after the arrest, Partee reportedly admitted to being present during the theft of the pickup truck and trailer, but denied stealing them.
He also reportedly gave the location of the truck stolen out of Baxter County and the trailer taken from Hirsch Feed and Farm Supply, and the property was found and returned to the owners.
As of press time, Partee remains in custody and warrants with collective bail set at $75,000 have been issued on three of the Howell County charges, and charges have yet to be filed in Ozark County, according to court records.
In Baxter County, Partee has been charged with theft by receiving and fleeing, both felonies, and misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, failure to maintain liability insurance, driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage and failure to obey a traffic signal or device.
His bond is set at $50,000 on those charges, according to Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery.