MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Her stolen truck was found, but when a Memphis woman got it back, she got more than she bargained for.
“I said, Roger — my husband is Roger — I said Roger, I don’t want to keep this stuff,” Christy Pennington said. “It’s just scary to me.”
It all started June 29 in a parking lot off Front Street, where Pennington’s husband parked his 2005 red Chevy Silverado truck.
“My husband went outside to go to work, and it was gone,” she said.
About an hour later, police pulled up. They asked questions, combed for evidence, and put together a report.
“We thought it was gone,” Pennington said.
But weeks later, officers spotted the truck on Mt. Moriah Road. They say the driver, 53-year-old Stacey Hardwick, rammed a Chevy Cruze on Aug. 3 and threatened a man and woman inside the vehicle, threatening to “blow their brains out.”
When police tried to pull him over, he led them on a chase into Mississippi, ditching Pennington’s truck before he was put into handcuffs. Hardwick was wanted on 15 warrants including kidnapping, aggravated assault, convicted felon in possession of a handgun and possession of methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, deliver or sell.
“When they called and told us, we were like, wow that’s something,” Pennington said.
On August 11, Pennington was able to get the truck from the impound lot. She showed Nexstar’s WREG these pictures of what it looked like.
“RAM” had been slapped on the back of it. The bed was full of tires and dirty tools. The inside was worse. None of it belonged to her.
Pennington said right away, her husband started sifting through it.
“He found several bags. One was a bunch of junk. Glasses, stuff like that. Then another bag was full of panties, so we chucked that not thinking anything, you know. Then he grabbed this bag,” she said.
A red backpack contained two laptops, old credit cards, and IDs belonging to a man and two women.
“I Googled these two girls’ names, and I can’t find anything on either one of them,” she said.
The name of the man whose Social Security card was in the truck, Doubse Edwards — matched that of a guy who was arrested in January during a sting operation.
“I look up his name and that’s when I discovered he was one of the nine that was arrested in January for human trafficking,” Pennington said. It’s not yet clear why Hardwick allegedly had the items in the truck.
Investigators say Edwards had meth and crack on him when he agreed to have sex with an undercover agent posing as a 16-year-old prostitute.
Pennington thought police would want to know about the items she found, so she called the police officer who did the report.
He told her, “Our investigation is done. We don’t need anything. You can do what you want, basically is what he said,” Pennington explained.
She also called the district attorney’s office but says the woman who answered the phone wasn’t interested either.
“I said, ‘OK.’ That’s weird to me. Then I talked to you all,” she said. “It’s probably nothing. But I don’t want that to be my daughter and didn’t do something in case there was something.”
Nexstar’s WREG reached out to the Memphis Police Dept. (MPD), the district attorney’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. MPD said they would handle the matter.
Officers asked Pennington to bring the items to the North Main precinct. She handed over the backpack and was told the items would be delivered to sex crime investigators. They would look at it to see if any of it could be possible evidence.
Pennington said she’s also continuing to go through the mess and wishes she hadn’t thrown things away before realizing not everything in the truck is trash.
MPD did say their officers sorted through the items in the truck and took inventory. They say they found meth and tagged saws and tools they believed to be stolen.
They also said they won’t clear out a vehicle when it’s returned in case any items belong to the owner. They ask that people call the detective back if they find anything suspicious.
But that’s what Pennington tried to do. WREG didn’t know why officers didn’t want these items at first.
“I didn’t want to get rid of it until someone looks at it and says no, nothing there,” Pennington said.
She now feels better police are taking a second look.
“Let them do with it what they want. I don’t want to be responsible for any of it,” she said.