Woman says man who killed three people, stole her van the week before
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- It's been two months since police say 18-year-old James Meeks stole a pickup truck, and drove so recklessly, he forced a jeep off Big Fork Road on Suck Creek Mountain.
Nicholas Clayton, his wife Emily, and her cousin Annie Blevins all died in that crash. Eric Blevins was the sole survivor.
Police say Meeks then burned the stolen truck to cover his tracks. He now faces murder charges.
A Signal Mountain mother says one week before that deadly crash, James Meeks stole her minivan and she watched him do it.
Terri Staples was playing in the yard with her two kids, when she says a suspicious truck, carrying three people, circled the block.
"They all 3 drove by without any eye contact and I just thought to myself, that was weird," says Staples.
She got a good look at the driver.
"There was a guy, young kid, blonde haired boy," says Staples.
Not knowing she would see him again a few hours later.
"My son ran to the bedroom window and said mommy someone is stealing our van," she says.
Staples says the same teen stole her white Kia Sedona.
Tire tracks still mark the pavement where the thief made his get-a-way.
"I was probably 10 minutes from pulling it in. I often think what if I had encountered this gentleman while in the process of stealing my van. So, it could have been worse," she says.
She says police pulled the van over two days later in Gordon County, GA. but the driver took off on foot.
"It's totaled. All my stuff is gone. Car seats, everything, all my stuff had been dumped," says Staples.
Then days later Staples says the thief showed up on the local news.
18-YEAR-OLD James Meeks was arrested for stealing a truck and running a jeep off the road, killing three people.
"I looked him up and saw the picture and said oh yeah," she says.
Staples says she's glad Meeks was caught but wishes it happened sooner.
"I thought three people are dead, we could have been the three people dead," says Staples. "We are always on guard now. We'll never be the same."
Police have not confirmed James Meeks stole Terri Staples' van.
Staples says when she picked up the van she found what appeared to be stolen merchandise and a knife inside.