BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Burlington woman has been charged with 2nd degree theft in connection with a bizarre incident Sunday that had area law enforcement looking for an armed suspect.
Fort Madison Police Chief Tim Sittig said Monday afternoon that 24-year old Karissa Coughenour, of Burlington has been charged with theft and is currently in the Lee County Jail. The theft is a Class D felony under Iowa law.
The charge stems from a theft of the vehicle from a Fort Madison residence Sunday. At 4:52 p.m. Fort Madison Police were called to a scene on the crest of Old Denmark Hill where Coughenour allegedly lost control of the vehicle and sent it vaulting into the woods southbound.
Coughenour was discovered by emergency crews in the woods after she was able to get free of the vehicle, but couldn’t give police additional information on any other people associated with accident or the theft.
The woman was taken to Fort Madison Community Hospital after being tended to by emergency responders and questioned by Fort Madison Police. After being treated for minor injuries she was taken to the Lee County Jail and held.
“She was playing the game pretty good with officers,” Sittig said.
Several reports from witnesses in the area said they heard what sounded like gun shots just prior to the incident, but Sittig said police have no information connecting those with the incident.
“At this point, we don’t think they are connected at all. There’s the possibility someone was target shooting in the area at that time,” he said.
After the accident, based on information allegedly given by Coughenour, police, Lee County Sheriff’s on and off-duty personnel, and Iowa State Patrol officers began a search of the wooded areas between 10th and 15 streets and north of Avenue B for an armed subject.
Sittig said Monday that information may have been inaccurate, but police did arrest a suspect in the area who was wanted on several warrants. That individual’s name has not been released by the police as the full report has not been completed.