A recent traffic stop by Perry County deputies resulted in a number of felony drug charges for one Cape Girardeau resident and a felony charge of resisting arrest for another.
According to a report from the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, Joshua D. Petry, 33, who was driving the truck, was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Kentucky and charged with felony resisting arrest after leading deputies on a brief foot chase.
Cierra Morrow, 23, is facing four felony drug charges — three for possession and one for delivery —after deputies discovered large bag of marijuana hidden in the truck, as well as a pill bottle containing 37 Xanax, seven Klonopin, and a plastic baggie corner containing approximately 0.25 grams of methamphetamine hidden on her person.
“It all started with an illegal license plate,” said Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf. “[Petry] was running plates off of a Ford passenger vehicle on a 5-ton wrecker.”
The Oct. 14 incident began at approximately 2:48 p.m., when Dep. Andy Pacinda conducted a traffic stop on Hwy. 51 southbound near Rand Avenue on the black GMC tow truck after a computer check revealed the discrepancy in registration.
When Pacinda confronted the driver, Petry offered a fake name and claimed he couldn’t find his wallet, saying he might have left it behind during an earlier stop at a local gas station.
During the initial conversation with the driver, Pacinda stated in his report that he noticed the smell of fresh marijuana coming from the truck and observed small pieces of marijuana on his seat when he exited the vehicle.
A check of the truck’s vehicle identification number revealed it to be registered to Henry’s Towing Service LLC from Brookline. Petry said ASAP 24 Hour Towing of Cape Girardeau, which he said he co-owned with his father, recently purchased the tow truck and had not registered it yet.
“He bought the truck at a repossession sale of some sort out on the other side of the state,” Schaaf said. “He had temp tags on it, when those ran out, he took the plates off something else and slapped them on there and he was running around doing repossessions for banks.”
Morrow, a passenger in the vehicle, was identified by her driver’s license and was revealed to be on probation for a charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Pacinda said in his report that he allowed Petry to look for his wallet in the truck, asked him for a Social Security number, and allowed him to call his mother — whom Petry said didn’t answer — when he couldn’t remember it.
Pacinda, who had previously observed Petry at the gas station and saw him with his wallet, decided to perform a search of the truck based on the marijuana odor and marijuana pieces he saw in the driver’s seat. During that search, he located a wallet in a compartment on the passenger side, which contained a driver’s license with the name Joshua D. Petry.
During the search, Morrow was asked what the name of the driver was. She said she only knew him as “Buddy.”
When Pacinda confronted Petry with the wallet and license, Petry said it wasn’t his.
A check on the license revealed it as valid, but expired and showed an active warrant for Petry’s arrest out of Kentucky, with an extradition request.
Pacinda informed Petry, seated in the deputy’s vehicle while the search was conducted, he was under arrest. Petry exited the vehicle, but rather than surrendering, took off on foot across a field north of Hwy. 51 towards apartments on Sycamore Drive.
Minutes later, Petry was taken into custody by Perryville Police, who returned him to Pacinda’s custody. After taking custody, Pacinda said, Petry told him he knew about the warrant and did not want to go to jail until he said goodbye to his children, and apologized for running and causing trouble.
Petry also told Pacinda that Morrow had hidden drugs on her person and in the truck.
A subsequent search of the truck revealed a bag containing 70 ounces of marijuana hidden under the dash. During questioning, Morrow revealed that she had a medicine bottle containing pills and methamphetamine hidden inside her.
In a written statement, Morrow said, “I was traveling with Josh Petry to inquire about vehicle’s up for repossession in Perryville. After leaving Rhodes gas station we were pulled over. Josh handed me a bottle to dispose of. I shoved the bottle inside myself. Then I grabbed the bag of marijuana and put it under the dash of the vehicle. The bag of marijuana was mine.”
According to Schaaf, as of Sept. 30, the Perry County Sheriff’s office had made 245 drug arrests this year, a number Schaaf described as “average.”