A drug user set her apartment on fire in Alexandria, Minn., and was arrested at the scene only to take off in a squad car and reached 125 miles per hour before her capture more than 20 miles away near Sauk Centre, according to charges filed Tuesday.
Jennifer K. Hillard, 35, was charged in Douglas County District Court with felony auto theft and two gross misdemeanors, methamphetamine possession and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
There were no injuries or property damage reported, other than to the Alexandria squad car that Hillard is accused of taking early Sunday evening from outside her apartment building in the 500 block of Broadway Street.
According to Alexandria police and the criminal complaint:
Police dispatched to Broadway Street about 6:40 p.m. saw smoke upon arriving and put out a small fire burning on the living room floor with a fire extinguisher.
Police officers found Hillard had been hiding above ceiling tiles, and she soon fell into an adjoining laundry room as one officer was watching. Police, who allege she had a methamphetamine pipe with residue that later test positive for the drug, then led Hillard to the back seat of a squad car and cuffed her hands behind her.
While officers were outside the squad car, Hillard freed one hand from the cuffs, squeezed through the sliding window separating the back and front seats and sped away.
Her crafty tactics were caught on the squad car’s video as was her entire time driving the vehicle with the emergency lights activated.
“It appears from reviewing the video footage the back sliding window was closed,” a police statement read. “However, she did slide it open easily, indicating it may not have been fully latched in the closed position.”
Shortly after 7:10 p.m., a Douglas County dispatcher monitoring the squad car’s location radioed officers that Hillard was driving at speeds of up to 126 mph and nearing Osakis.
An Osakis officer spotted Hillard as she was entering the city and pursued her. A state trooper deployed “stop sticks” on the road ahead of Hillard, disabling the squad car and ending the chase.
Hillard remains jailed in lieu of $15,000 bail, with conditions, ahead of a court hearing next week. Court records as of Tuesday afternoon do not show legal representation for her.
Hillard’s criminal history includes convictions for driving with a revoked license, drunken driving, disorderly conduct and domestic assault.