Police release suspect photos in Russellville car theft

Cole County deputies offer $500 CrimeStoppers reward

Russellville teen's car torched on graduation

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. - Cole County authorities are still looking for a suspect who stole and torched a graduate's car from the Russellville High School parking lot last Saturday night.

Police issued pictures from the high school parking lot surveillance camera of a white 4-door pickup truck they believe was involved in the car theft.

Earlier this week, deputies issued a CrimeStoppers reward of $500 for information leading to an arrest.

Macy Matheis, a Russellville High School senior, told ABC 17 News she returned from "Project Graduation" at the YMCA Sunday morning and found her car missing from the school parking lot.

According to a Sheriff's Department news release, the car was left in the lot around 9 p.m. Saturday and discovered missing at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

"You never just walk over and you car isn't where you left it," she said Monday. "My cap and gown and diploma, scholarships, everything was in my car."

Matheis also had diapers and clothes for her 10-month-old daughter inside. The only thing that made it out was a motivational mug, with a Bible verse on it.

Deputies confirmed the car was later found in the 7900 block of Campbell Road and had been destroyed by fire.

"Just to take a car and set fire and burn everything, it has to be a really sick person to do that," Matheis said.

Two other students told ABC 17 News Monday they had items stolen from their vehicles as well. One had about $200 worth of tools taken from the back of a truck, another had nearly $2,000 worth of items stolen, including golf clubs.

"This is a small town, we've all grown up together and this doesn't happen every day," Matheis added. "They really come together with care, kindness and love and it's really showing people's true colors."

Surveillance cameras in the school parking lot caught suspect vehicles and deputies had sent the images away for enhancement Monday.

Capt. John Wheeler told ABC 17 News the department was investigating several leads in the case.

He added that all vehicles involved were unlocked at the time and said these crimes of opportunity could be used as teaching moments.

"The bad guys are out there so the less we do to help them, the better off we're going to be," said Wheeler. "Even in a town like Russellville, you need to lock up."

Anyone with information was asked to call the Jefferson City area CrimeStoppers at 659-TIPS.

Matheis said some classmates had planned a fundraiser for her on Friday.

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