Next stop, prison: Woman sentenced for wild ride on county roads

A Whatcom County woman must serve a year in prison for leading police on a winding 26-mile car chase from Bellingham into the farmland of Skagit County, a judge has ruled.

Jamie Renee Rinker, 32, of the Alger area, fled police in a white Acura ILX with Louisiana plates around 3:30 a.m. April 11, in downtown Bellingham. The car had been stolen hours earlier near Cain Lake.

Rinker sped off south to Fairhaven, then circled back through downtown to Interstate 5. On the freeway speeds topped 110 mph. She exited at North Lake Samish Road and hit 80 mph in the dark down rural roads on the west side of the lake.

Eventually she drove along railroad tracks off Colony Road but got stuck. She surrendered.

State troopers reported Rinker’s boyfriend, Dustin William Morrison, 38, jumped out of the car’s passenger seat. He tried breaking into two homes to avoid capture, but he was arrested around 5 a.m. when residents called police, according to police. He’s charged in Skagit County with burglary, possessing a stolen vehicle, and other crimes.

The couple faced felony charges in two other Whatcom County cases.

Prosecutors alleged they stole bike chain, stereo speakers and speaker wire in fall 2014 from the burned-out home of a man who died in a fire on Summerland Road, west of Lake Samish.

And they were suspects in a string of burglaries in Skagit County, one of which involved a ’50s Porsche Speedster. Sheriff’s deputies tried to pull over the car on April 6 near the couple’s home on Summit Place. The driver — a man who looked like Morrison — sped off, ditched the car, and ran, according to charging papers. A police dog couldn’t track him down.

Neighbors reported hearing Rinker and Morrison argue over who got to drive the Porsche. Officers arrested Rinker that night on a warrant, and when they escorted her into her home to retrieve a dog, they saw items stolen in the burglaries in Skagit County. She posted $2,000 bond five days before the Bellingham car chase.

Morrison remained at large until his arrest off Colony Road. He’s being held on 15 criminal counts in Skagit County Jail. He awaits trial.

On Wednesday, June 15, Rinker admitted guilt in Whatcom County Superior Court to bail jumping in the Summerland burglary; possession of the stolen Porsche; attempting to elude police; and unlawful possession of hydrocodone (a search warrant of the Acura turned up 19 stolen pills).

Rinker had no felony history.

“What happened in 2014 that led to this spree, I don’t know,” the deputy prosecutor, Brandon Waldron, told the judge. “I don’t know that anybody but Ms. Rinker knows happened.”

Rinker declined to speak before sentencing.

Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis approved a plea deal ordering Rinker to one year and one day in a state prison.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb