VILLA RIDGE, Mo. – Tom Sutton heard an unusual commotion behind his home in Villa Ridge early Sunday morning.
“I don’t know how many fire trucks. There was one ambulance, I don’t know how many state troopers and sheriffs’ cars and everything,” he said. “We woke up at like 3:30 in the morning. I thought it might have been a car accident because there was a lot of (police) out here.”
The body of 56-year-old Jason Gilley was found lifeless on westbound Highway 100 near Cromwell Drive.
“He had been walking down the right lane of the roadway when he was struck and he was found on the shoulder of the roadway after being struck,” said Cpl. Dallas Thompson, Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Thompson said 21-year-old James Sitze of Washington, Missouri was taken into custody Sunday night by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s being charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death of another,” Thompson said. “A warrant was issued by the Franklin County court system and bond of $10,000 has been set.”
It was a tip from social media after a rearview mirror was left at the crime scene that led to authorities identifying and arresting Sitze.
“We believe that being able to have just a little bit of evidence left at the scene and making a post on our social media pages was a huge asset in this case,” Thompson said. “As soon as we reposted it, it got several retweets.”
Tanesha Thorton walks Highway 100 regularly. She said drivers need to pay more attention.
“They don’t give the right of way to anyone on foot whatsoever,” she said.
Thorton has a first-hand view of how dangerous it can be for those who may be forced to walk. She was saddened by the news of Gilley’s death but not surprised.
“I’m not surprised whatsoever, especially since it’s getting warmer out and more people are mobile,” she said. “I could see it happening again.”