A Missouri man crashed his truck into a flooded creek with his girlfriend inside, managed to escape the sinking vehicle while abandoning her as she drowned, and then raced off in a stolen pickup, police allege.
Cole Michael McCall, who police claim submerged his Chevrolet Silverado in a creek with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Jennelle Wulfmeier inside, was arrested in connection to her death on Jan. 11, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. The 21-year-old was charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and stealing a motor vehicle.
Police said the crash unfolded shortly before 11 p.m. on Saturday in Elsberry, Missouri, a small town roughly 65 miles northwest of St. Louis. McCall, who authorities said was settling up a debt from a past transaction involving the sale of a vehicle from another man, allegedly gave the seller in question a counterfeit $50 bill. Upon realizing the money was fake, the man, who police identified as Kevin Davis, allegedly sped after McCall, who “drove off very quickly and in an aggressive manner,” the criminal complaint stated.
Davis, who chased McCall down a residential street, told police he watched the man zoom over a levee and into a creek adjacent to the town. As the vehicle began to sink, Davis told police McCall shouted at him to call police, according to the complaint.
Davis told police he last saw McCall running toward Highway 79. He then allegedly hijacked another man’s GMC Sonoma pickup before being taken into custody hours later.
When Elsberry police questioned McCall he denied he had been with his girlfriend on the night of the fatal crash.
“It turns my stomach,” officer Tom Moore told Oxygen.com. “I can’t even remotely fathom leaving my wife, my child, my girlfriend, anyone behind and getting out of the vehicle. It’s a very heartbreaking circumstance and it’s kind of beyond anybody’s comprehension.”
McCall initially stated he had never met Davis, and claimed it was “impossible” that he was in Elsberry that day. He eventually admitted to crashing the truck, but insisted “he did everything to get her out,” a police spokesperson said. Investigators, however, doubted his claims.
“He fled from the scene… if he had just gotten scared and gotten out, that would’ve been one thing, but he purposefully fled the scene, stole another car to get farther away from the scene, and then denied that he was even with her or that she was in the truck,” Moore also said.
Moore said freezing rain created slushy road conditions the night of the crash. Detectives believe that McCall was able to escape the capsized truck because his door was facing upward, away from the “subfreezing” streamflow. Wulfmeier, however, wasn’t so lucky.
“The vehicle went in southbound and the direction of the flow of the creek was eastbound so it was pushing up against the passenger door,” Moore explained. “So while she was trying to push open the stream was pushing against her creating...probably hundred pounds of force.”
“[She] just didn’t have the strength to open the door, meanwhile [McCall] got out the other side,” Moore added.
A GoFundme has since been started to help the family cover funeral costs for Wulfmeier.
“This family doesn’t even the money to bury their own daughter,” Moore said, who noted that the 20-year-old’s mother is on disability.
The police spokesperson said McCall had a “extensive record” and was part of a suspected “major auto [theft] ring.” He has past burglary and auto theft charges. He was also on bond for a previous felony and misdemeanor case at the time of his girlfriend’s death.
McCall’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 22 at 9 a.m., according to court records. He’s being held on a $100,000 bond.
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