Police believe a man in his 30s broke into Ted Allen’s Jewellry on Sunday night, nicked a rental car’s license plates on Monday around lunch and then crashed his stolen car that afternoon near Hope, killing his female passenger.
He then fled in a white Ford 350 that had stopped at the scene.
“This is a real tragedy,” Sgt. Nate Holt told the Star, while fellow agencies including Hope and Chilliwack RCMP initiated a province-wide manhunt. Border Services has gotten involved as well.
“It now seems that these two individuals are responsible for all three of these events, and it’s likely they’re responsible for more that we don’t know about.”
When the fleeing couple were approximately 10 kilometres from Hope, they crashed their Equinox SUV into a maintenance truck. Though emergency crews performed CPR on the scene, 35-year-old Danielle Charlton died at the scene.
She was reportedly a mother of four.
The driver is described as being approximately 5’10” tall with short dark hair. He has a thin, stubbly face, broad shoulders and was wearing a red and white motorcycle jacket with tan shorts. He was last seen driving in the direction of Hope.
According to social media, the pair have been engaged since September 9. Charlton’s ex Charlie Charlton posted on social media that she had been trying to turn her life around, and blamed the male driver for her death.
“So sad my kids have no mom and she had to spend her dying moments with strangers,” he wrote.
The driver’s name has not been released by authorities. Both Charlton’s ex and her mother have urged him to turn himself in.
‘One person can cause quite an impact’
Nelson cops were first contacted around 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, when a disguised burglar brazenly smashed through the front window of the jewelry store and fled with approximately $30,000 worth of merchandise.
They had earlier noticed a suspicious vehicle near Cottonwood Falls Park, and were trying to relocate it at the time of the crime.
“The suspect used a hammer or similar tool to gain entry,” the press release reads.
“The suspect then smashed several glass display cases and stole numerous items of jewelry in a short period of time.”
Owner Justin Pelant is relieved nobody was hurt during the theft, and grateful for the swift response from police. Woody Wudkevich of Kootenay glass came by Monday morning to help get everything fixed up and ready in time for customers that morning.
“That’s the Nelson community — you make a phone call and people will come out straight from their house at 6 a.m. in the morning to help a fellow business out,” Pelant said.
“I’m working with the insurance company now, and no matter how it shakes out it’s going to cost thousands of dollars. This is very irritating, I don’t know how else to say it.”
Holt said the suspect is well known to police.
“He’s not a regular local, he’s quite transient, but he’s been popping up on our radar every time he comes to town. Unfortunately, one person can cause quite an impact on the community, especially in a town this size.”