Missouri Woman Charged in Carjacking Conspiracy for Multi-State Crime Spree
BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today returned conspiracy and armed carjacking charges against the surviving member of a Missouri couple that was sought for crimes in four states earlier this year before being apprehended in a hail of gunfire in Florida in February, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton.
An eight-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges BRITTANY NICOLE HARPER, 30, of Joplin, Mo., with one count of conspiracy to transport a stolen vehicle across state lines, two counts of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, three counts of carjacking and two counts of brandishing a gun during a crime of violence.
The indictment states that the purpose of the conspiracy was for Harper and “her co-conspirator to unlawfully obtain vehicles, by whatever means necessary,” including acts of violence, and then to use the stolen vehicles as transportation between various states. The indictment refers throughout to Harper’s co-conspirator, but does not name him.
Harper was arrested in Milton, Fla., on Feb. 5, after a face-off with police in which her co-conspirator was shot and killed. She faces state charges in Florida.
“Anyone who chooses to move from state to state, repeatedly and violently taking whatever they want along the way and threatening the lives of innocent people, has to know that the criminal rampage will not last long,” Vance said. “Law enforcement will catch up to them.”
The indictment describes a 10-day, four-state crime spree by Harper and her male companion that began in Webb City, Mo., on Jan. 26, when the couple took a 2009 Cadillac on a test drive from a dealership and never returned. Highlights of the crime spree, as outlined in the indictment, are as follows:
Before arriving in Alabama, the couple burglarized a home in Missouri, where they parked the stolen Cadillac in the garage and stole a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer parked at the home.
The couple’s first crime in Alabama is listed as a theft at the Walmart in Bessemer on Jan. 30, before the couple drove the Trailblazer to Tuscaloosa, where they forced a motel clerk at gunpoint into the backseat of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta he had driven to work. Harper and her companion drove the Jetta to Hoover, where they tried, unsuccessfully, on Jan. 31, to take a Camaro from a McDonald’s employee, and then released the motel clerk in Vestavia Hills.
Soon after releasing the clerk, Harper’s companion entered a home on Monte Vista Drive in Vestavia Hills, where he encountered one of the home owners and his minor children. The co-conspirator put a gun to the man’s neck and began forcing him toward the garage, but the man got free and went for help. The co-conspirator then forced the man’s wife at gunpoint into the homeowners’ 2010 Ford Edge and drove away.
Harper and her companion released the woman near the Grandview Medical Center on Cahaba River Road in Birmingham, and then drove the stolen Ford Edge to Perry County, Ga.
The indictment lists other crimes in Georgia and Florida before Harper’s arrest on Feb. 5 following a high-speed chase through neighborhoods in Milton, Fla., after police confronted the couple.
The other crimes listed as part of the conspiracy, but not individually charged in the indictment, include the robbery and kidnapping of a convenience store clerk in Perry, Ga., on Feb. 1, the robbery of Alvin’s Island beach shop in Destin, Fla., on Feb. 3, and the robbery of a shoe store and a home invasion and carjacking, all in Pensacola, Fla., on Feb. 4.
The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys John B. Felton and Erica W. Barnes are prosecuting.
An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.