Woman, 93, dragged during carjacking at church, police say

Victim's car stolen at St. Peter Catholic Church

By Daniel Dahm - Digital Manager

DeLAND, Fla. - A 93-year-old woman was dragged during a carjacking Thursday morning outside a church in Florida, police said.

DeLand police said Darius Matthews, 20, and David Leo Perkins III, 21, of Daytona Beach, were arrested in the carjacking, which was reported around 8:15 a.m. at St. Peter's Catholic Church before morning Mass. 

DeLand police Chief Jason D. Umberger said the DeLand woman had just opened her car door when Perkins snatched her car keys from her hand, and then he and Matthews got into her vehicle. 

The victim grasped onto the steering wheel to try to stop the men, but she ended up being dragged about 20 feet before falling to the ground as the men stole her tan four-door Chrysler, authorities said.

The woman was injured, but she was not taken to a hospital, police said. Umberger described the woman as resilient, articulate and cooperative.

“She sustained some minor injuries -- cuts and scrapes and bruises. Thankfully, she wasn’t seriously injured, but she did sustain a couple injuries," Umberger said.

A Volusia County sheriff's deputy spotted the stolen car near Euclid Avenue and Stone Street, and a short pursuit that lasted about 30 seconds ensued, police said. 

The car crashed into some trees in a backyard at High Street and Winnemissett Avenue near Franklin Avenue, and the men ran away in separate directions, authorities said.

A Volusia County deputy arrested Perkins, who was driving, and an officer from the DeLand Police Department arrested Matthews, who was in the passenger seat.

Umberger said Thursday's arrest illustrates the importance of cooperation between law enforcement agencies. 

“I want to commend the Volusia County Sheriff's Office and thank them for their assistance in this incident, and we look forward to continually working in conjunction with Sheriff Chitwood and his deputies as we fight crime in the DeLand area,” Umberger said.

Police said the men were not carrying any weapons and that it seemed more like a crime of opportunity.

"This was more of a grab-and-go," Umberger said.

 

He said it was "disturbing" that criminals would attack an elderly woman leaving a place of worship and, although the victim in this case did nothing wrong, he hopes citizens remember to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

“I think, just as citizens of any area, we can’t stop the ill intentions of other people, but we can be as cognizant of our surroundings as we can, and just be aware of our surroundings from just a general safety standpoint," Umberger said. 

Matthews told police that he and Perkins were walking around DeLand when one of them suggested that it would be easier if they had a vehicle then Perkins walked away and returned with the stolen car, according to the arrest report.

Perkins told police that Matthews was driving the car, pulled up and forced Perkins to get in and drive, the arrest report said. He denied stealing the vehicle.

Police said Perkins' girlfriend told them that Perkins left a house with Matthews around 8 a.m. Thursday and took a bike that was later recovered at the church. The girlfriend said she believes Matthews, who she knows as "D," is a bad influence on Perkins.

Perkins was charged with carjacking and fleeing and eluding. Matthews was charged with principle to carjacking and resisting an officer without violence.

Both men appeared in court Friday where a judge ordered that Perkins be held without bond and Matthews be held on $51,000 bond. Neither man is permitted to have contact with the victim or step foot on the church's property.

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