INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Police in Independence, Missouri, arrested a teenager on Tuesday, accused of stealing a 93-year-old Korean War veteran’s SUV.
Family was trying to sell retired Army Sgt. Bill Marsh’s vehicle on Facebook Marketplace, but officers say the 17-year-old drove off in it after asking for a test drive on March 20.
Since he only had liability insurance on the vehicle, Marsh’s family has started this GoFundMe page to help him.
“I feel like [the suspect] knew who he was stealing from, and I think that bothers me the most,” said Marsh’s grandson, Monte Nordeen, who unknowingly communicated with the suspect and was there for the sale.
Marsh owns a 2011 grey Dodge Durango.
Family said his property taxes skyrocketed. And since he was living on social security with a reverse mortgage on his house, the vehicle was his only asset.
His son and grandson decided to sell it on Facebook Marketplace to try to raise $7,000 for him since he doesn’t drive much anymore anyway.
In messages they shared with FOX4, one can see the buyer tells them to come to the Target on E. 39th Street in Independence, saying he works there, and he’ll come out on his break.
Nordeen and his father were present for the deal and tried to let the suspect test drive it.
“I was going to get in the back seat, the doors locked, the car starts, and he just speeds off,” Nordeen said. “I look up and see my dad staring across from me, and I just said, ‘Dad he just stole the car.’”
“Of all people, a 93-year-old veteran,” Marsh’s granddaughter, Dori Stayton, said. “This man has never asked for a dime from anyone.”
Stayton started the fundraising page, which had raised more than $1,400 by Tuesday afternoon.
Tuesday morning, Independence police recovered the severely damaged SUV after a chase with the teen suspect. Officers are now looking into whether he was involved in a dozen other car theft cases that fit this M.O.
The Independence Police Department recommends people do transactions like this at a police station.
“We have cameras, there’s signs, there’s people coming and going constantly,” Officer Kelley Rupert said. “If they’re not willing to meet here then that’s your sign that there’s something wrong.”
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“Grandpa’s a little hard of hearing, so dad is kneeling down telling him what happened, and grandpa takes it all in and sits back and goes, ‘Huh, well at least everybody is OK. No one was hurt.’ And that’s all he said,” Nordeen said.
Bullard Automotive owns the tow yard the Durango was taken to. They’re offering Marsh free tires.