By JOSH NEWTON
Two persons of interest in a string of Cherokee County thefts were jailed Sunday afternoon after leading authorities on a high-speed pursuit.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy Dexter Scott said authorities were looking for the couple Sunday morning after reports of burglaries and a fuel drive-off from a store in Cookson. Surveillance footage from the fuel drive-off gave authorities the description of the vehicle, which county and city authorities had reportedly tried to stop several times in the past week.
Deputy Travis Miller was in the area Sunday morning and saw the vehicle on State Highway 82, near Oklahoma Station. He attempted to stop the car but was led on a pursuit down State Highway 100 to Welling Road. Shortly after the vehicle turned onto Welling Road, the pursuit was called off for safety reasons.
Deputies later received a report the suspects had stolen a man’s wallet near Comb’s Bridge. The victim of that theft gave a description of a vehicle matching the blue car that had been involved in previous burglaries and the Sunday morning fuel drive-off. Authorities said the two suspects appeared to be using a “snatch-and-go” method to steal.
While deputies were en route to take a report on the stolen wallet Sunday afternoon, Deputy Charles Dreadfulwater spotted the vehicle on Steely Hollow Road and tried to stop it, but the suspects again sped up. This time, authorities maintained the pursuit, which went along S.H. 82 North to S.H. 82A, turned onto 510 Road, made its way to Elm Grove Road, then headed back to S.H. 82 and went west onto Killabrew Road.
Scott said Richard Ryals was driving the vehicle and ran off the road on a curve a few miles west of S.H. 82. The car struck a tree and ran through a barbed-wire fence before stopping.
Richard and Rachael Ryals both allegedly ran from officers, but Dreadfulwater was able to capture Richard while Scott arrested Rachael.
Deputies were assisted at the scene by the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Hulbert Police Department.
Sheriff’s Capt. Bob Sanders said Richard Bradley Ryals was transported to a local hospital to be checked before he was booked into jail. Investigators are now looking into other thefts in recent weeks to see whether the suspects have any connection to those crimes.
Sanders said authorities received information the couple had been staying in an abandoned home in the Cookson area and might have taken a TV and other items from that house. Authorities also discovered a pill bottle in the home that was reported stolen from another previous burglary, Scott said.
Richard Ryals al- legedly told police at the scene of the crash Sunday that he was on drugs, and apologized to them.
Deputies said the vehicle the Ryalses crashed Sunday had been taken from a family member and was not returned.
Richard Ryals was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center on two counts of eluding, resisting arrest, driving under the influence of drugs, expired driver’s license, malicious injury to property, and recommitment by a bondsman for previous charges of knowingly concealing stolen property and possession of paraphernalia.
Bond on the recommitment was $15,000, according to CCDC officials, but no bond had been set on his latest arrest as of Monday afternoon.
Rachael Ryals was booked into jail for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, public intoxication of drugs, and resisting arrest.