PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Jan. 9, 2009) — A Kentucky man and woman fleeing murder charges who touched off a four-agency manhunt after they crashed their car last month near the Roubidoux Bridge on Interstate 44 have waived extradition and will be returned to that state to face numerous criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Pulaski County Associate Circuit Judge Colin Long signed an order allowing the extradition of Thomas W. Mercurio, 25, and Amy E. Arden, 21, both of Louisville, Ky., after they decided not to fight extradition to Kentucky. However, as of noon Friday, Pulaski County jailers said Kentucky authorities hadn’t yet arrived to pick them up. Both have been held in Pulaski County on a $1 million cash bond pending extradition to Kentucky.
Mercurio and Arden were arrested on the evening of Dec. 20 at the Greyhound bus depot in St. Robert, following what State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Danny Crain called “a very intensive search for the two individuals.”
Neither Thomas nor Arden were injured in the crash, Crain said.
There’s no reason to believe Mercurio and Arden had planned to stop in Pulaski County. Sheriff J.B. King said if the crash hadn’t happened, they would have continued on Interstate 44 fleeing from Kentucky.
“They were arguing and pushing each other at the side of the road. There was stress on them, of course,” King said. “They wrecked here, panicked, yelled at each other, and then they ran because they realized they were about to be caught.”
According to Pulaski County court documents, the two inmates face similar but not identical Kentucky charges. Mercurio is accused of complicity murder, first-degree complicity arson, first-degree complicity robbery, complicity tampering with physical evidence, and complicity receiving stolen property over $300, while Arden is accused of complicity murder, complicity arson, first-degree complicity robbery, complicity tampering with physical evidence, and complicity receiving stolen property.
Mercurio and Arden had wrecked a 1994 Nissan minivan at 5:10 p.m. on Dec. 20 at mile marker 159 in St. Robert, which is near the bottom of a steep hill at the Roubidoux Creek Bridge. Firefighters found the vehicle had crashed in the westbound lanes but the occupants had fled. After checking the license plates, law enforcement personnel discovered the vehicle had been reported stolen in another state and its occupants were believed to have been connected with much more serious crimes. That touched off a manhunt in which St. Robert police, Waynesville police and sheriff’s deputies assisted state troopers in trying to locate Arden and Mercurio, finally succeeding about four hours later at 9:06 p.m. when they were located at the Greyhound depot.
According to state patrol reports, Arden was arrested on Missouri charges of tampering with a motor vehicle. Thomas was arrested on more serious charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, careless and imprudent driving and no valid operator’s license.
In other unrelated Missouri State Highway Patrol actions this week, troopers reported the following arrests:
• At 2:36 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4, troopers in Pulaski County arrested Brittney E. Black, 22, of Waynesville on charges of driving while intoxicated and for a vehicle equipment violation. Black was transported to the Pulaski County Jail and subsequently released.
• At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 6, troopers in Henry County arrested Regina M. Carethers, 52, of Waynesville, on three felony warrants and one misdemeanor warrant, all from Pulaski County. Carethers was transported to the Henry County Jail where she was held with no bond allowed.
• At 3:49 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan 7, troopers in Cole County arrested Elisha M. Watson-Gittings, 22, of Waynesville, on a Maryville misdemeanor warrant for failure to appear on larceny charges. Watson-Gittings was transported to the Cole County Jail where she was eligible for bond.
• At 10 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 8, troopers in Pulaski County arrested Taurance R. Perry, 20, of St. Robert, on a Jasper County felony warrant for burglary. Perry was transported to the Pulaski County Jail where he was eligible for bond.