NewsLocal NewsHamilton CountyCincinnati


Judge sets high bond for man accused of stealing SUV with three children inside

Good Samaritan helps desperate dad chase thief
PD: Man steals car with three children inside
Posted at 3:26 PM, Mar 03, 2018

HEAR clips from the 911 calls in the video above.

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A 911 call reveals a desperate dad's anguish and an unusual twist as he chased the thief who stole his SUV with his three kids inside Saturday afternoon.

The panicked dad was riding with another driver he apparently didn't know. The good Samaritan driver said he saw the thief take off from the parking lot on West Galbraith Road and told the dad to get in his car.

Then they chased him together.

"Oh my god, he stole my truck! My kids are in the truck!" a man who identified himself as Courtney Wells yelled in a 911 call. "I'm in the car with somebody. We're chasing him. He stole my kids! Please, I got three kids in that car."

The dispatcher asked Wells to calm down and tell him where they were driving. After a few moments, Wells came to a shocking realization.

"Did he turn? Oh my god, I think we lost him," Wells cried.

The driver told the 911 dispatcher that he just happened to be there when the thief took off.

"I saw what happened so I said, 'Come on!"

The thief sped off and crossed the center line several times trying to elude them, police said.

"We were so close. We were right there ... Oh, god, he was flying," the driver said on the 911 call.

The suspect got away from them near Blue Rock Road and the Springdale Connector, but all ended well when the children - two 4-year-olds and a 1-year-old - were found safe and the suspect was arrested, police said.

Someone claiming to be the father later posted a Facebook message that thanked the driver who helped him. He mentioned that the driver is wanted by police.

"Thankyu big s/o for all the help. He chasin this car down wit 5 warrants ... God was watching ova my babies," the post said.

Police said 33-year-old Howard Mullis stole the SUV just before 2 p.m. after the father went in the Pit Stop convenience store. Police said he left the engine running with the three kids in the backseat.

Mullis had been hanging around outside the store for hours, said an onlooker.

"The guy had been sitting right in front of this trash can all morning long, so I guess he was just waiting on somebody to pull up," said Keith Lipscomb.

Another man said he heard the commotion in the parking lot. He got choked up talking about it.

"I heard somebody hollering and screaming that they are stealing my car and they have my kids in the car," said Dennis Cooke. "You got me kind of teary-eyed. Thinking about that ... it could have been my kids."

A harrowing 2 1/2 hours later, the children and the SUV were found about a mile away at 8401 Colerain Ave., outside America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, near Walmart.

An employee noticed the SUV, a silver 2004 Volkswagen Touareg, in the lot and called police. Mullis apparently abandoned the car and kids and took off on foot.

Mullis was apprehended in a nearby woods at about 5:30 and later admitted to the crime, Colerain police said. He was charged with auto theft and kidnapping. He appeared in court Monday morning where a judge set bond at $625,000.

"We threw everything we had at it," Colerain police spokesperson James Love said. "I got a lof of questions about the dad, but our focus was to get the children. Everything fell second to that."

Family members didn't want to comment after being reunited with their kids.