Gerry Glenn Jones is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, as well as scripts for theatre and film. This is a factual article.
St. Louis County Police Department
In law enforcement jargon when you hear the words, "I'm stopping a stolen occupied vehicle," it means that the police officer has located a motor vehicle that was reported stolen. It lets dispatch and other officers know that he/she will need assistance, and they respond and keep dispatch informed of how the stop is proceeding.
I never dreamed I would add another type of vehicle to those words of police jargon, but I did on a summer night in 1982. I only thought of it after a particular event was over. The new presentation was, "I'm stopping a stolen occupied horse."
Gerald (Gerry) Jones: A Field Training Officer
Before I get into the heart of the incident, I should lay out some groundwork. The Year was 1982, and I was a "Field Training Officer" for the St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri. My duties as a training officer were to patrol a beat just like any other officer, but with the additional duties of field training a new officer, after they had successfully completed a 16-week academy training course at the Greater St. Louis Police Academy.
My duty as it was with all other training officers in the department, was to take what the trainees had learned in the academy, and show them how to apply it effectively in daily on-duty situations, and rank their performance in a 12-week assessment period.
Gerald (Gerry) Jones and Gary Berra on Patrol
During the period this article is based on, I was field training Gary Berra, who would later proceed through the ranks to attain the status of a Lieutenant. He was a very knowledgeable and efficient officer, so it made my job easy.
My permanently assigned was beat 4 in the original 5th precinct, with our substation in Ballwin, Missouri. My beat was the largest one in St. Louis County at that time, and it consisted of mostly rural areas, with small municipalities. The biggest feature of my beat was the fact that Six Flags Over Mid-America was in it, and it was part of my patrol duties also.
Stolen Occupied Horse
As probationary police officer, Gary Berra and I patrolled the area near Glencoe, Missouri, we talked about how uneventful that Summer night had been, but that was about to change in a hurry. We were headed north on Mo. Hwy 109, when we observed two young men riding a horse, and approaching us on the west shoulder of Hwy 109. The horse did not have a bridle or saddle; however, it did have an unusual saddle blanket in the form of a U.S. flag.
I immediately recognized the two men riding the horse. I had arrested then before, and they both lived in Glencoe. I also knew they didn't own a horse. As I slowed down and stopped the patrol car, both men jumped off the horse and fled into the woods on the west side of the highway. One was holding a shiny object that I suspected might a handgun. I immediately told officer Berra to call this in to dispatch and stay with the horse, which had stopped when the men jumped off her.
One Suspect is Arrested
As I ran into the woods after the suspects, I pulled my duty weapon, because I thought one of them might be armed. I also did not turn on my flashlight, which I carried in my left hand. I knew that if I turned it on, it would give my position away, and give them a target. I also didn't run but walked softly, and in a direction, I thought they might try to take home. I stopped in an area that would be in a direct course to their homes in Glencoe, and stood behind a tree and waited. After only waiting a short time, I heard footsteps in the leaves. Someone was approaching my exact location. When the suspect was within about 25 feet from me, I stepped from behind the tree and ordered the man to stop, and drop what he had in his hand. I now had turned my flashlight on and could still see something shiny in his hand.
The suspect was startled, but stopped and dropped the object, which I then recognized as an open can of beer. It seemed that getting arrested was less important than losing his beer. As I ordered him to the ground, I recognized he was a petty criminal that went by the nickname "Rooster." As I placed the cuffs on him, I told him he was under arrest for suspicion of stealing property with a value over $150.00 (stealing a horse.) I also advised him of his Miranda Rights and asked him where his accomplice was? I had also recognized his partner as a petty criminal that I had arrested before. His last name, believe or not, was "Leuthauser."
Rooster, immediately said he didn't know what I was talking about, and that he had done nothing wrong. He was also very intoxicated. I then observed course hair on his pants that appeared to be the same color as the stolen horse. He also had an order that I recognized as sweat from a horse. I had horses of my on while growing up, so I knew what they smelled like.
An Unusual Way of Locating the Owner of the Stolen Horse
By this time, I could hear the "calvary," other police officers responding, with sirens blaring. When I reached the location where this incident had started, I saw Officer Berra standing by the horse, holding onto its mane. I also observed a flurry of police cars with their red lights flashing at the stop area, with others still arriving, since the call had been transmitted for "an officer in need of aid."
As I placed the suspect in our police car, I was asked by another officer if I knew who the horse belonged too, and I told him I didn't, but I had an idea how to find out. I climbed onto the back of the horse, who appeared to be old and sickly. I gave her a slight nudge, and she immediately turned around and starting slowly walking the opposite way on Highway 109. She didn't have a bridle, and I didn't try and control her direction, because I knew that horses, like many other animals, have an uncanny sense of direction to where they live.
It was an extraordinary site as I rode the horse up Old State with a procession of patrol cars followed me with their emergency lights on, in order to protect me and the horse from other vehicles. When we arrived at the intersection of Highway 109 and Old State Road, she turned right onto Old State Road and proceeded for about seven-tenths of a mile, where she turned left onto Red Tail Hawk Rd., and went a short distance and stopped at a gate to a small pasture.
Horse is Returned to Owner
I got off the horse and walked to the house directly across the street. My knock awakened the homeowner, who opened the door with a surprised look on his face. I asked if he had a horse missing, and stated that he didn't think he did, but when I pointed toward the horse, he immediately said, "Yes that's my horse." I explained to him what had happened, took his information as he opened the gate and let the horse into the pasture. We later arrested Leuthauser without incident. Both subjects were later convicted of the crime, and also of stealing a flag, which we learned had been taken from a flagpole at the Glencoe Post Office.
The Glencoe Post Office was the location of another incident later, where I almost lost my life but was saved by my training and the Grace of God. This true story will be told in a future article.
If you would like to follow my exciting life; God protected life, continue to read my articles. You can also find articles that are in the chronological order of my life at Gerald (Gerry) Glenn Jones: He Wore Silver and Gold, and if you know me, you may even be in one. But, in closing, I must say "God Bless the St. Louis County Police Department and you all!"
© 2018 Gerry Glenn Jones