By Margie Wuebker
The Celina Police Department is seeking a 30-year-old local man in connection with an apparent abduction and pursuit Saturday night that ended when the victim's car burst into flames.
An unidentified motorist contacted police shortly after 7 p.m. regarding two subjects -- a male and a female -- fighting inside a vehicle stopped in the roadway in the area of Queensbury and Kingswood drives. It appeared the man was choking the woman seated behind the steering wheel, the caller told a 911 dispatcher.
The 1989 Honda Prelude left the scene at that point heading eastbound on state Route 29, with the motorist following and relaying locations via cell phone.
A Celina officer stopped the car at state Route 29 and Riley Road, at which time the man was in the driver's seat. During the course of an interview, he drove off with the 22-year-old woman still inside.
The pursuit headed south on Riley Road, eastbound on state Route 703, north on Harris Road and West on Howick Road, where a Mercer County Sheriff's deputy had placed "Stop Sticks. The fleeing vehicle struck the devices causing all four tires to go flat. The driver continued, turning northbound on Riley Road as the vehicle caught on fire, presumably due to sparks shooting into the engine compartment from the rims. He continued approximately a half mile before driving off the road and striking a ditch. He jumped from the car and fled on foot through a farm field. The female passenger exited the stopped car.
Law enforcement officers and Nick, Celina's K-9 unit, checked fields and wooded areas south of Neptune for nearly three hours before calling off the search. A subsequent radio bulletin issued to authorities indicated he may be armed with a razor knife. Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser declined to identify the suspect, pending the filing of formal charges.
A Mercer County Sheriff's deputy, who investigated the accident which landed the vehicle in the ditch, listed the identity of the driver as Mitchell D. Mullins, 905 Cheshire Circle, Celina.
The passenger, reportedly Mullins' former girlfriend, told officers she attempted to bail out several times and screamed for help while the car had been stopped in the street. Mullins allegedly made comments regarding what he intended to do to the woman, but at this point police are unsure of his intentions. The woman sustained scratches and had some hair pulled out during the altercation.
"There was not a lot of traffic given the time," Slusser told The Daily Standard. "The car nearly struck a car head on causing the other driver to swerve to avoid a collision. The rate of travel definitely exceeded the speed limit, but I don't know how fast the subject was going."
The heavily damaged car was towed from the scene.
The sheriff's office received several calls from area residents regarding suspicious activity later Saturday night. One man reported hearing knocking on a window but found no one around. Another caller indicated she knew Mullins' whereabouts but he remains at large.
Mullins was indicted in August on charges of assaulting a police office and escape stemming from an incident in which he struck Celina Police Sgt. Tom Wale in the chest and then fled on foot. He was found a short time later on a porch near the intersection of Warren and Ash streets.