By Jessie Williams
A man accused of answering an online For Sale ad in Kentucky, and then holding the seller at gunpoint and stealing his truck, was arrested in Macon County last week.
According to Lafayette Police Officer Jeff Hix, a concerned citizen reported seeing a stolen vehicle in the Birch St. area on Tuesday, May 4, around 8:50 p.m. The caller stated that they had observed a post on social media with a photo of the vehicle, which had been stolen out of Kentucky. The caller described a light colored, 4-door truck with a large decal in the back window, and said it was traveling towards Ellington Dr. and then turned left on Highway 52.
Around 9 p.m. Sergeant Josh McClard made contact with the vehicle on Old Highway 52, but the driver accelerated as the officer turned around to attempt a traffic stop. The vehicle turned onto Sullivan Dr., which comes to dead end, and appeared to crash into the treeline.
Officer McClard pointed lights at the vehicle and asked the occupants to step out and show their hands. He received a response from a female passenger, who came out with her hands up. She was then handcuffed and identified as 24-year-old Dusti Wells of Lafayette. The driver of the vehicle - 27-year-old Daniel Nichols - had fled the scene on foot.
At that time Officer Darrell Taylor arrived and cleared the vehicle, and Officer Clint Hestand and a K-9 were called to the scene. The K-9 was able to track the suspect’s scent towards highway 52, but lost his trail and was unable to locate him. Officers also searched the area but were unsuccessful in finding the man.
The next shift of officers, along with officers from the Macon County Sheriff’s Department, remained in the area watching for Mr. Nichols. They received information that a witness had observed Nichols nearby and a perimeter was set up between Brattontown Missionary Baptist Church and Key Rd.
Nichols was located by officers during a search of the wooded area. They were able to take him into custody without further incident.
When Warren County, Kentucky, law enforcement was contacted by Lafayette police regarding the stolen truck, officers were told it was listed for sale on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace by the victim. A man - now known as 27-year-old Daniel Nichols - responded to the ad, saying his name was ‘Country.’ The victim stated a blonde woman (Miss Wells) dropped Nichols off at his residence to look at the truck and Nichols asked if he could test drive it. The victim accompanied Nichols during the test drive and, at one point, Nichols asked to stop so he could look at something on the exterior of the truck. After stopping and exiting the vehicle, Nichols then returned with a gun and ordered the victim out of the vehicle. The victim exited the truck and escaped into the woods.
It was also discovered that Nichols had outstanding warrants in other counties in Kentucky and Tennessee, with one of the incidents being a similar vehicle theft at gunpoint.
In Macon County, Nichols was charged with theft of property (2 counts) and leaving the scene of an accident. His bond was set at $150,000. Miss Wells was charged with theft of property and filing a false report. Her bond was set at $50,000.