Fugitive Caught After High Speed Chase Through Hamilton
A high speed chase Thursday that ended in the Skalkaho area southeast of Hamilton resulted in the capture of a wanted fugitive in Ravalli County.
Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton said that 39-year-old James Franklin Wages was arrested and jailed on several charges.
Holton reported that Wages and an associate, 50-year-old Tonya Fussell, were spotted at the Hamilton Airport Thursday morning, October 12. A tire deflation device flattened one of the tires of an apparently stolen maroon Ford Expedition. However, Wages drove off at high speed south.
Hamilton schools were put on temporary lock-down as the pursuit began, but soon the speeds reached 100 miles per hour south on US 93 and onto the Skalkaho Highway. Several law enforcement vehicles pursued, as Wages turned off Skalkaho onto Rye Road. Another spike strip was deployed at the Railroad Creek forest road, flattening the other tires of Wages' vehicle.
The car went off the road and Wages left the car. He resisted arrest until a taser was used to take him into custody.
Sheriff Holton said Wages was booked on existing warrants in Missoula and Ravalli Counties and felony charges of assault with a weapon, burglary, reckless eluding, criminal endangerment, possession of a stolen vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle, and misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of drugs, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and criminal trespass of property.
Fussell was initially charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and felony possession of dangerous drugs.
Sheriff Holton said, "Wages has been a drug induced crime spree for twelve days, and it is a good stroke of business to get him in jail where he cannot victimize our communities."
Investigation is continuing and court appearances are upcoming.