A South Hill man who is wanted in Colorado for a felony traffic offense evaded a massive manhunt in the rural Gala community north of Eagle Rock Friday and Saturday, and apparently got away in a stolen Ford F-150 pickup truck sometime early Sunday morning.
It wasn’t the first escape in what was been a nearly-weeklong hunt for 34-year-old William J. Roberts.
Roberts was seen in surveillance video from a Botetourt convenience store trying to put gas in the stolen pickup truck late Saturday or early Sunday, but it was Sunday afternoon before the Botetourt Sheriff’s Department learned from Colorado police that Roberts tried to use a credit card to get gas the night before at a couple of convenience stores in that area of the county.
The Sheriff’s Department got the license tag number from the truck on one of the videos and contacted the owner who was out of town. The truck was stolen from a residence on Dagger Spring Road.
“After another day of extensive search, the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office received information (Sunday) afternoon that there had been activity on William Roberts’ credit card at local convenience stores in Botetourt County, beginning just after midnight…,” a press release from the Sheriff’s Office said. “Investigators responded to area stores and reviewed video which show the subject attempting to get gas in a white Ford F-150. It appears that subject stole a truck from the Dagger Springs area of Botetourt County. Video at one store provided a tag that came back to a home on Dagger Springs Road. Contact was made with owner of truck who confirmed it was stolen.”
The Sheriff’s Office reported Roberts was last seen driving a white Ford F-150 with license tag XLT-8584 heading south on US 220 around 12:30 a.m.
Warrants have been obtained for William Roberts for grand larceny of vehicle, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle reported that at approximately 5:30 a.m. Friday the 911 Dispatcher Center received a call that an Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office deputy was in pursuit of a stolen vehicle.
Botetourt deputies responded to the North County area between Eagle Rock and Iron Gate to assist in the pursuit when Alleghany County advised that their deputy had lost sight of the vehicle in Iron Gate.
At least six Botetourt deputies responded to the call and remained in the area searching for several hours but the vehicle was never located.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the Sprinkle said his office received information that the suspect from the vehicle was believed to be at a residence on Dagger Spring Road near the Gala community.
Multiple Botetourt deputies, State Police officers and a State Police helicopter, Rockbridge deputies as well as officers from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries responded to the location to assist in searching the area.
When the Sheriff’s Office alerted the public, it was reported Roberts should be considered armed and dangerous.
It wasn’t the first time Roberts eluded police, according to a report in the Summit Daily in Summit County, Colo.
The newspaper’s online edition reported that Roberts allegedly evaded police in Silverthorne, Colo. for nearly six hours last Wednesday— two days before showing up in Botetourt.
Police reportedly had a Silverthorne motel surrounded hoping to capture Roberts who was accused of an escape that involved ramming a patrol car and vanishing into the night after leading officers on a chase to Frisco, Colo.
Apparently, though, William Roberts was on his way to Kansas, where he again evaded police in a high-speed chase and escaped on foot after going over two spike strips Wednesday evening.
Police there believe he then stole a white pickup truck in the nearby town of Kechi.
Roberts was reported as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps’ elite MARSOC special operations command.
“He’s obviously intelligent, there’s no question about that, in terms of figuring out ways to elude us,” North Newton, Kansas Police Chief Randy Jordan told the Summit Daily. His officers chased Roberts at 130 miles per hour in a Chevrolet Camaro SS. “I don’t know if I’d go as far as calling him Jason Bourne, but he is certainly intelligent,” Jordan told the newspaper.
Aurora police reportedly asked Silverthorne police to arrest Roberts at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, accusing him of assaulting his girlfriend with a car and leaving her with serious injuries.
A Dillon police officer spotted his car at the Dillon Dam Brewery and parked his patrol car behind it to prevent him from leaving.
Roberts allegedly rammed into the patrol car to move it out of the way and then sped off. Silverthorne police briefly pursued him, but he escaped to Frisco.
There, police swarmed to a parking lot where they believed Roberts had ditched his car. They released a canine to sniff him out, but to no avail, the newspaper reported.
The next morning, police were told that Roberts was staying at a Silverton motel, but that tip turned out to be stale. Just hours after police called off their SWAT operation there, Roberts was pulled over for speeding by a North Newton, Kansas police officer.
The officer noticed that Roberts was a fugitive while running his license plate, Police Chief Jordan told the newspaper. At the same time, a sheriff’s deputy happened to stop at the scene to back up the officer.
Roberts allegedly sped off in the Camaro before they could arrest him and that resulted in a chase across two counties before two rounds of spike strips finally immobilized his car.
But, because of how fast he was going, police had lost contact with him and Roberts was able to escape on foot, Jordan told the Summit Daily.
Around that time, the pickup was reported stolen in Kechi, Kansas.
According to the Summit Daily, Roberts reportedly suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from multiple overseas tours in the military. He was considered armed and highly dangerous, the newspaper said.
Anyone with other information is asked to call the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office at 540-473-8631.