February 04, 2023

Manhunt ends after Jasper County break-in, chase suspect's arrest

REASNOR — A suspect who eluded police Thursday — allegedly connected with a home invasion and apparent assault in Reasnor and an ensuing high-speed chase in Newton — was found by law enforcement hiding in a tree near the North Skunk River in rural Mahaska County.

Elijah Utterback, 37, of Ottumwa, was arrested at 2:30 p.m. in connection with the police pursuit in Newton. According to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Utterback fled on foot after Mahaska County Sheriff’s deputies found him operating a vehicle near Highway 146 on the Poweshiek/Mahaska County line. Several law enforcement agencies assisted in Utterback’s arrest, including a Jasper County reserve deputy and a K-9 unit who found the Ottumwa man in the tree.

An Iowa State Patrol aircraft, Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office, Mahaska and Poweshiek County Emergency Management and Mahaska County Conservation also assisted in the search for Utterback.

A second suspect, 23-year-old Kelsi Spears, of Kellogg, was arrested earlier Thursday morning after she eluded officers in a reportedly stolen vehicle.

The incident began with a 911 call at 10:40 a.m. at a Reasnor residence from a male victim who reported two suspects broke into the home, assaulted him and took his vehicle. The victim suffered minor injuries. Jasper County deputies and other law enforcement agencies responded to the area.

A Jasper County deputy located two vehicles 12 minutes later at approximately 10:52 a.m., one confirmed stolen, southeast of Newton. The second vehicle immediately fled the area. Law enforcement attempted to stop the stolen vehicle, but the driver — who was later confirmed to be Spears — failed to pull over.

Newton police placed stop sticks in the road at South 13th Avenue East in Newton during the pursuit, which cause the stolen vehicle’s two front tires to deflate. Spears continued to drive and was eventually stopped by law enforcement at the intersection of South 13th Avenue East and East Fifth Street South where she was taken into custody. Spears was transported to the Jasper County Jail.

Spears is charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, felony eluding, operating a vehicle without a drivers license and insurance, driving on the wrong side of the road and failure to obey a stop sign.

Utterback is facing charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, driving while license suspended and operating a vehicle without insurance.

The sheriff’s office said no injuries were reported as a result of the incident. Monroe and Prairie City Police Departments also assisted in the high-speed pursuit.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com