BELLINGHAM - After a daylong manhunt, a felon suspected of taking a driver hostage in Bellingham during a getaway was arrested Wednesday, Dec. 12.
James M. Craver, 28, was wanted on investigation of breaking into a home in Everson, assaulting his former girlfriend with a knife, prowling cars in Bellingham, and threatening to shoot a woman driver - picked at random - if she didn't help him elude police.
The crime spree started at 1 a.m. Tuesday when Craver jimmied open the door of his ex-girlfriend's home in the 200 block of Reeds Lane, said Everson Police Chief Erik Ramstead.
Armed with a folding knife, Craver sneaked into the bedroom where his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend were sleeping, according to police. They didn't wake up until he was standing over them. Craver allegedly broke their cell phones so they couldn't call police, then held them at knifepoint for three hours.
At one point, Ramstead said, Craver flew into a rage and poked the 31-year-old woman in the left forearm with the blade, leaving at least two small puncture wounds.
He kept saying he "wanted to get back together" with the woman, according to Ramstead. By the time the victims could alert police, Craver had fled.
Police dogs were called in, but the scent trail was cold. Officers suspected he somehow got a ride out of town, Ramstead said.
Twelve hours later, a man was seen prowling cars in the 500 block of West Bakerview Road. A victim saw the crime in progress and started chasing him, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young. The suspect, later identified as Craver, was armed with a box cutter.
As he ran away, the suspect approached two drivers and demanded they help him in his getaway, Young said. They refused.
But when he allegedly told a third driver that he had a gun, the 24-year-old Skagit County woman didn't take any chances. He jumped in and she drove off. A witness phoned 911 and gave dispatchers the license plate of the car.
A police sergeant tracked down the driver's cell phone. But when he called, Craver picked up, Young said. The sergeant, who didn't say who he was, pretended to know the woman as a friend and asked to talk with her. Before she could say where they were, Craver snatched the phone away and ripped out the battery, according to police.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the sergeant got another call. It was the victim. She said she had dropped off Craver in the 1900 block of Fraser Street and watched him run off. Then she'd driven less than a mile to Iowa Street, snapped the battery back into her phone and called police.
Craver never showed a gun to the hostage, Young noted.
Craver was at-large until 11:40 a.m. Wednesday. A Whatcom County corrections deputy on a gang sweep - a check on known gang houses - was driving a marked patrol car in the 2800 block of Pacific Street when he saw Craver walking down the street with two other men. The deputy "recognized (Craver) from jail" and knew he was wanted on "a litany of charges," Young said.
Craver was arrested without incident. Police don't consider the two men walking with him to be accomplices. Craver didn't have any weapons on him. At the scene of the vehicle prowls, however, police found a folding knife.
Craver has a criminal history dating back to a 1993 shoplifting case. By the time he was an adult, he'd been convicted of more than a dozen crimes, rarely going more than a few weeks without getting into trouble with police, according to juvenile court records.
At age 17, he was convicted as an adult of felony assault for holding a steak knife to the throat of a 13-year-old boy he'd never met. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for that crime.
He also has a history of theft, assault with a sexual motivation, harassment, and drug crimes. In May 2010, Craver was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for trying to break into a home on West Pole Road to steal heroin.
Reach Caleb Hutton at email@example.com or call 360-715-2276.