William Eugene Hammer, age 48 of Sikeston, Missouri was arrested at approximately 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 6 after leading Arkansas State Police troopers on a pursuit which resulted in a manhunt that lasted approximately 8 hours.
The incident began when Hammer and a passenger, Tonya Goodman of Missouri drove off from Murphy U.S.A in Clarksville without paying for $60.01 in fuel. The Clarksville P.D. put out a notice on the vehicle, a 2005 Dodge Dakota.
Trooper Danny Nichols and Corporal Harry Smith were working traffic on I-40 and made contact with the suspect vehicle which was traveling west on I-40 near the 48 mile marker.
They attempted to stop the vehicle and Hammer accelerated and would not stop. Hammer got off of Exit 47 and headed north on Highway 164 toward the Hunt community with Nichols and Smith following. Hammer drove through Hunt, past Horsehead Lake and continued east on 164.
When Hammer neared the Mennonite Church near 103 he veered to the left and drove through a barbed-wire fence and into a field. Hammer ultimately drove through three fences trying to elude pursuing troopers.
Hammer drove through a field several times before ending up driving into a dry creekbed. Hammer fled the truck on foot, leaving his passenger.
Clarksville P.D. officers and Sheriff's Office personnel responded to the scene and set up a perimeter. The Arkansas State Police helicopter was summoned and the Sheriff's Office K-9 team responded with a trailing dog.
Hammer was trailed approximately 2 miles before his scent was lost. The helicopter arrived on scene and used a Forward Looking Infared (FLIR) to attempt to locate Hammer for aproximately 2 1/2 hours. The trailing search continued after an approximate 45 minute break with the trailing dog picking up Hammer's scent again and deputies using a handheld FLIR device to search the thick underbrush and vehicles, houses and outbuildings in the search area.
The ground search continued for approximately 2 hours before it was scaled back. At approximately 12:40 a.m. a resident of Private Road 3135 called to report that a male came to his residence and was asking for a ride to town. Deputies arrived at the residence less than a minute from receiving the call. Auxiliary Deputy Raymond Christian deployed a FLIR device and located Hammer laying in a hole made when a tree had previously fallen over. Deputies approached Hammer quietly and took him into custody without incident.
Hammer is charged with Theft of Motor Fuel, Felony Fleeing, Reckless Driving, Speeding, Failure To Stop For A Stop Sign, Impeding Traffic, Driving Left of Center, Leaving the Scene of an Injury Accident, No Seat Belt, No Proof of Insurance, Criminal Mischief (4 counts), Driving on the Shoulder and Criminal Trespass.
Hammer appeared before Circuit Judge Bill Pearson on Friday, December 7 where his bond was set at $20,000.00 cash/commercial with a court date of January 4, 2013 in Johnson County Circuit Court.
Hammer's passenger was injured when the vehicle he was driving wrecked in the creekbed. She was transported to Johnson Regional Medical Center for treatment and was released.
The Sheriff's Office trailing dog trailed Hammer for over two miles to approximately 250 yards from where he was eventually taken into custody.