LINN — A Belle man was in “stable but critical condition” Monday night following surgery to repair serious, self-inflicted, knife wounds to his neck, in an apparent attempt to avoid being arrested and jailed on drug charges. He had been upgraded to “fair condition” by Tuesday evening.
Joseph L. Thompson, 28, was flown by helicopter and underwent surgery at University Hospital. Trooper Coby Holzschuh said the doctor who did the surgery told him Thompson “was expected to make it.”
Susan M. Koelling, 29, also of Belle, who also attempted to slit her throat to avoid arrest, was taken first by ambulance to St. Mary’s Health Center and then transferred to University Hospital for treatment of less severe injuries to her neck. Osage County Sheriff Michael Dixon said both would be placed on a 96-hour psychiatric commitment hold at the request of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Koelling and Thompson, identified as girlfriend and boyfriend, were stopped by Dixon in their van on Saturday after Osage County deputies were alerted of a vehicle being operated in a careless and imprudent manner on U.S. Highway 50 at Clay in Linn, said Dixon. Inside the van were all the precursors, chemicals and components, required to make methamphetamine, he said.
Both were released pending the filing of formal charges. At around 12:45 p.m. Jan. 7, Holzschuh went to arrest them as they were retrieving their vehicle from a towing firm’s impound lot in Linn on Benton, near the Catholic church.
Koelling fled on foot, heading north down a steep, icy, snow-covered embankment. Thompson took off toward U.S. Highway 50 in the van.
Holzschuh said he chased Koelling. She stumbled and fell down the hill. He slid past her and climbed back up the incline to place her in handcuffs. Holzschuh said she had her arms underneath her. “She was slashing at her throat and cutting herself while I was attempting to handcuff her,” said Holzschuh.
Meanwhile, Dixon and Linn Police Chief Richard Bray, responding to Holzschuh’s radio call for mutual aid assistance, stopped the van driven by Thompson. Holzschuh said Dixon and Bray witnessed Thompson slashing his throat. “He was committed,” said Holzschuh. “Has was basically sawing back and forth. He was bleeding profusely.”
Holzschuh said Koelling later told him they would have sought out a rock bluff to drive the van into if they had the chance to escape. “They made a pact. They would not go to prison,” said Holzschuh. “They were determined to kill themselves.”
Dixon, who took office earlier this month following his election in November, told The Republican the incident was “most definitely the most bizarre thing I have ever been through, or part of, and hopefully this is the last time I will ever have to witness something like that.”
Dixon said as he and Bray approached the van in their patrol vehicles, they managed to block Thompson’s path onto U.S. 50. Before either lawman could exit their vehicles, Dixon said they saw Thompson begin cutting his own throat. “He was literally sawing this throat with a knife,” said Dixon.
He described the knives used by both suspects as “three-and-a-half to four-inch folding pocket knives.” Each had a “partially serrated” blade, he noted. “They were sharp,” he added.
Dixon said Bray ordered Thompson to put down the knife. Dixon said he grabbed a handful of rubber gloves from his squad and applied them with pressure to Thompson’s wounds to “contain the bleeding. He went unresponsive and had no pulse.”
Thompson responded when given cardio pulmonary resuscitation after being taken out of the van.
Holzschuh said Koelling has a prior criminal history with felony convictions for forgery. “She’s been to prison before,” he noted. Dixon noted she was on parole for forgery. Bonds for felony charges issued Monday in Osage County were $25,000 for each, said Dixon.
In other MSHP news, Jeffrey R. Downey, 25, of Owensville, was arrested at 1:36 a.m. Sunday following a one-vehicle roll-over crash on Route Y near Highway 28. He faces state charges on allegations of driving while intoxicated and careless and imprudent driving resulting in an accident, according to an arrest report filed by Sgt. David Spurgeon.
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