Marathon chase of stolen car from Bellingham to Bow hits 114 mph


A 26.2-mile pursuit of a stolen car from Bellingham to Bow topped 110 mph in the early morning hours of Monday, April 11, ending with two arrests in Skagit County.

A state trooper tried to pull over the car, a white Acura ILX, around 3:30 a.m. north of Western Washington University, after learning the car’s license plate matched an Acura stolen hours earlier near Cain Lake.

The driver sped off, leading police on a circuitous chase through town — south on Garden for the length of campus, south on 14th Street, west on Mill, and north on 11th and State back to downtown — at speeds around 50 mph, according to the state patrol.

Troopers chased the Acura to the Ohio Street on-ramp. On Interstate 5 speeds vaulted to 114 mph, as the driver raced south, said Sgt. Mark Francis of the state patrol. On police radio officers said the car exited at Lakeway Drive, but immediately got back onto I-5 at the on-ramp.

There was little to no other traffic as speeds entered triple digits over the next seven miles south, according to state troopers. The car exited at North Lake Samish Road and darted south at 80-plus mph in the dark along the west side of the lake. Then the Acura turned onto Colony Road, a two-lane rural drive south of Alger.

Troopers chased the car down a dirt road near the west end of Colony, alongside the railroad tracks.

The car high-centered — Francis said he didn’t know what it struck — and the driver surrendered. She was identified as Jamie Renee Rinker, 31, of Sedro-Woolley. She was booked into Whatcom County Jail to face charges of possessing a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude police.

Meanwhile, a passenger ditched the car and ran south. Within the hour, dispatchers took reports of a man trying to break into houses off Chuckanut Drive, Francis said. A police dog from Whatcom County helped troopers track the suspect, Dustin William Morrison, 37, to a house in the 5800 block of Chuckanut, about 1 ½ miles of open farmland from the spot the car crashed.

Morrison was in custody at 4:57 a.m. In the scuffle of his arrest, the police dog bit a Whatcom County sheriff’s deputy — not the dog’s handler — on the arm. He needed a few stitches at the emergency room, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.

Troopers booked Morrison into Skagit County Jail on suspicion of two counts of burglary in the first degree, obstructing law enforcement and resisting arrest.

The car wasn’t seriously damaged. It was impounded so troopers could apply for a warrant to search it.

In all, five police agencies joined in the chase: the state patrol, the Bellingham Police Department, Western Washington University Police, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

Recent court records identify Morrison as Rinker’s boyfriend. They were co-defendants in a burglary case, where they were accused of stealing things from a burned out home that belonged to Bruce Harris, 75, of Summerland Road.

Harris’ body was found in a house fire Oct. 24, 2014. Charging papers state about a month later a neighbor reported someone using a flashlight to search the property, where a wooden gate was still blocked off with tape that said: “Fire Line Do Not Cross.”

Prosecutors allege Rinker was acting as a lookout in the driveway, as Morrison loaded a few of the dead man’s things — a bike chain, stereo speakers, speaker wire — into his car.

Morrison pleaded guilty in January 2016 to theft in the third degree, vehicle prowling and bail jumping. At the time he had no felony record. Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett sentenced him to two months of jail time.

Rinker pleaded not guilty in the burglary case. As she awaited trial, Rinker kept missing court dates. Three times Superior Court judges issued warrants for her arrest, and she was booked into jail last week on the latest of those warrants.

Rinker posted $2,000 bond on Friday afternoon. On bail paperwork, she listed a home address on Summit Place, near Cain Lake.

The Acura was reported stolen Sunday afternoon, along with other property, in the 300 block of West Alder Drive, near Cain Lake.

The make of the stolen car was corrected April 12, 2016.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb