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Traffic Stop To Catch Fugitive Ends In Tipster's Tragic Death

She called police to turn in a wanted man, then they shot her. 

By Will Huntsberry

It all started as a helpful tip to put a wanted man behind bars, but ended in the tragic death of the tipster, a 21-year-old mom of two.

A 19-year-old Missouri man was charged with murder Friday, after police accidentally shot and killed Savannah Hill while she was attempting to help bring the man to justice.

Mason Farris (pictured) was wanted for a parole violation when Hill called police last Saturday afternoon to say that Farris was with her. She told them he would likely run away on foot, but suggested she could put on her car's child safety locks to keep him in her vehicle if they pulled her car over to apprehend him, according to a court document obtained by Oxygen.com.

Eight minutes later two patrol cars and three officers made a traffic stop that ended in tragedy and bloodshed.

Farris, the wanted man, was seated in the back of the car. He first tried to get out, but the car's safety locks prevented his escape, according to the court document, a probable cause statement.

Next, the man tried to move to the front of the car, according to police accounts. He attempted to hold Hill’s leg down on to the gas pedal, according to another passenger, who, in an attempt to thwart Farris, tried to put the car into park.

Instead, the car ended up in reverse, careening towards officers. Two were hit and one officer, David Chatman fired on the driver, Hill, according to the Springfield News-Leader. She died two days later at Springfield Hospital. 

Hill’s father, Chris Nethery, expressed relief that his daughter was cleared of any wrongdoing in a statement to the News-Leader.

“At this time the family is ecstatic that we have the first part of this investigation that proves that our initial feelings — that Savannah was not in control of the vehicle, that she was assisting law enforcement and ultimately became an innocent victim of this tragic incident," Nethery said.

Missouri’s “felony murder” rule allowed Farris to be charged with second-degree murder, because Hill died while an alleged crime was being committed. Farris is also charged with felony assault and resisting arrest.

He had previously been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing and drug charges, according to Missouri Department of Corrections records.

[Photo: Missouri Department of Corrections]

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