Teen's Crime Spree Rattles Rural Neighborhood

Teen's Crime Spree Rattles Rural Neighborhood
By: Holly Brantley

LESTERVILLE, Mo. - Burglarized homes and businesses, stolen weapons, and a car chase...sounds like big city crime, but it happened in rural Reynolds County.
But Sheriff's deputies tell Heartland News, a 16 year old caused all this commotion Monday night.  Apparently, he ran away from the Valley Springs Youth Ranch in Black, Missouri.
Aaron Santhuff said he had a scary run-in with the teen who allegedly stole his 17-year-old daughter's Mustang.  Santhuff said he heard a noise coming from outside his home.  When he went to check it out, he faced a gun pointed at him.
"I got a bar stool and raised it up," said Santhuff. "He pointed the gun at me and let me know I was gonna get some of it if I didn't put it down.  I put my hands up and turned to go back in the house."
According to Reynolds County Sheriff's Deputies, the teen ran away from the Valley Springs Youth Ranch.
Before stealing the car, officers believe the crime spree included the home of at least one other resident, and Richard Fox's Saw Mill.
In fact, the pistol pointed at Santhuff apparently came from the glove compartment of the Blazer parked outside Fox's business.  It appears the suspect used a pick ax to break in.
"He tore up the shop and got the tools out," said Fox. "This isn't the first time this has happened.  How much do you put up with?"
The runaway allegedly ransacked the office and tore apart the car.  All that, before stealing the Mustang.  Police said the suspect lead them on a chase down Highway 21 toward Ellington. That's where the suspect ran off the road and totaled the car.  Still, the teen kept going. Deputies said he was able to run away from the crash before officers caught up with him some time later.
Santhuff said he also followed the teen before the cops got involved.
"I don't care about the car," said Santhuff. "I'm not putting up with this.  We've told them about our concern with the camp."
"They run away, and we end up being the victim." said Fox.
Meanwhile, George Becker said he is aware residents have concerns, but he isn't able to comment.
According to the Reynolds County Sheriff's Department, the youths end up at the camp for a variety of reasons, and they know local residents have complaints.
As for the juvenile, authorities said he could be certified as an adult.  His list of charges include armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon, burglary, car jacking, robbery, and more.