Crime

Suspected serial thief offers no explanation for taking cars

Police arrest Marshall Lee May on Friday, June 10, 2016. May is a suspect in a car-stealing spree through Bellingham, for which he has offered no explanation.
Police arrest Marshall Lee May on Friday, June 10, 2016. May is a suspect in a car-stealing spree through Bellingham, for which he has offered no explanation. eabell@bhamherald.com

A man suspected of a car-stealing spree across town last week has not told police a motive, said Bellingham Police Lt. Mike Johnston.

Marshall Lee May was arrested Friday, June 10, on suspicion of stealing a car from outside a Chevron station at Guide Meridian and Smith roads. May matched the description and photo taken earlier that day of a man police suspected had stolen several cars throughout town.

May did not give a motive for the series of thefts he’s accused of at the time of his arrest, Johnston said Tuesday, June 14. May refused to talk to police without an attorney.

It’s also still unclear how the thief started up the stolen vehicles, Johnston said. But some of the cars had damage to the ignition, indicating that they may have been hot-wired. Police still are trying to determine how many cars were taken during the spree.

Julie Williams, May’s mother, said her son moved to Seattle from rural Virginia, where Williams still lives, about three years ago. She confirmed that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia about a year ago. Since then, he said he’s been hearing things, seeing things that aren’t there, and has said he believes someone is out to get him, according to Williams.

Mental health issues run in the family, Williams said, adding that she’s trying to have her son sent back to Virginia so she can get him medical attention.

A dog that was with May during the alleged string of thefts is now in Whatcom Humane Society custody, said Laura Clark, the organization’s executive director, on Tuesday.

Timothy Shea, a Commercial Street restaurant owner who took the photos of the suspected car theif and posted them on Facebook, said he saw a dog in the front seat of the Jeep May had been driving.

That dog was handed off to humane society employees at the scene of May’s arrest Friday, Clark said. The dog, a 4-year-old male Labrador/ridgeback mix, is in good condition.

The humane society will hang onto the dog to give May’s family a chance to retrieve it, she added.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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