Joshua McFerrin

A Franklin County man charged in a fatal car crash was arrested Thursday after being on the run almost five days.

Missouri Highway Patrol troopers took Joshua McFerrin, 36, St. Clair, into custody after stopping a car on Highway 68 in Phelps County about 4:44 p.m.

Sgt. Dan Crane, public information officer for Troop I, said investigators received a tip that McFerrin possibly was a passenger in the vehicle and intercepted it just south of the St. James city limits.

Sgt. Al Nothum, Troop C public information officer, said the car was stopped because it had license plates registered to another vehicle. Nothum said McFerrin was taken into custody without incident.

Sgt. Crane told The Missourian Friday that the driver of the car, John M. Hawkins, 30, St. Clair, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. He was taken to the Phelps County Jail where he was held for 12 hours, then released pending a decision on possible charges.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said he expected McFerrin would be transferred either Friday or Saturday from Phelps County to the Franklin County Jail where he will be held on a $500,000 cash-only bond.

At this point, McFerrin is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal crash Saturday evening, June 29, at Highway 100 and Route M near Villa Ridge. More charges are expected to be filed, however.

McFerrin had been on the run since he walked away from the Mercy Hospital Washington emergency room where he was taken by ambulance following the crash that occurred shortly before 7 p.m.

McFerrin walked out of the hospital before highway patrol troopers could arrest him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

For the last several days, law enforcement officers have been following up on tips that McFerrin had been spotted at several locations, including in the Berger area, St. Clair and Cuba in Crawford County.

Warren County officers also were looking for McFerrin in and around Marthasville where he grew up.

The Crash

Two passengers — Mitchell Mantels, 56, Villa Ridge, and Tarlton Stephens, 46, St. Clair  — in a car driven by McFerrin died in the June 29 crash. Another passenger, Shanna Wilken, 30, St. Clair, was seriously injured. She was transported by air ambulance to Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

The patrol reported that McFerrin was driving a 2000 Dodge Stratus westbound on Highway 100 and made a left turn at Route M, pulling into the path of an eastbound 2007 Ford Fusion driven by Jo E. Knipe, 60, Robertsville. Knipe and a passenger, Kenneth Knipe, 61, Robertsville, were injured and were taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital Washington for treatment.

The patrol report indicates that McFerrin failed to yield for the traffic signal at the intersection. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of moderate injuries, the patrol reported.

After fleeing from the emergency room, McFerrin was seen running into a wooded area near the hospital. Officers then mounted a search of the area, including the Rotary Riverfront Trail.

Lengthy Record

McFerrin has a lengthy criminal history that includes past convictions for statutory rape, second-degree assault, auto theft, resisting arrest and drug trafficking.

He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms totaling 10 years after pleading guilty to charges of assaulting law enforcement officers and resisting arrest by fleeing, causing a risk of death or injury, according to court documents.

In February 2011, McFerrin pleaded guilty to assaulting a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest and was ordered to serve three years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, according to online court records.

Sheriff Toelke said McFerrin had been in the county jail on traffic charges but was released a few days prior to the fatal crash.