Police continue search for man

As the car sped down the street, a mother hung out of the vehicle until she couldn’t hold on anymore and fell to the ground, watching as the car drove off with her two children inside.

Seconds later, an officer spotted the car when it blew through a stop sign, and a pursuit began. The officer didn’t know a 4-year-old and 7-year-old were in the backseat of the car until the chase had ended, and he saw them crying next to the vehicle.

Now, police are continuing to search for Joseph Lee McKenney, 26, after he got away from officers twice Wednesday. McKenney has not been arrested or charged.

McKenney, the father of the two children, told them they would be going with police and he might be going to jail when he stopped the car after the half-mile pursuit and ran away.

The pursuit began shortly before 1 p.m. near Fairview Road and State Road 135. Before the officer spotted the vehicle, the mother of the two children already had begged a restaurant worker for help and tried to get the keys out of the ignition to get away from McKenney, according to the police report.

The woman told police she and McKenney and the children had been staying at a motel in Indianapolis near Interstate 65 so he could see the two children, since he wasn’t allowed at her mother’s home and she didn’t want to leave the children alone with him.

Earlier that day, she and McKenney had argued and he had hit her in the face, prompting her 7-year-old to yell at McKenney to stop hitting his mother, according to the Greenwood Police Department report.

The woman told police she wanted to get out of the motel and to safety, and told McKenney the children were hungry. He agreed to leave to get food, as long as they all went together, the report said.

They stopped at a restaurant on State Road 135 and an employee was in the parking lot taking orders. When the vehicle stopped, the woman saw a chance to try to get away. She grabbed the keys from the ignition to try to turn off the vehicle, but McKenney stopped her. She yelled for the employee to call police and then opened the door to get out of the vehicle, but McKenney grabbed her by her wrist and hair and sped out of the parking lot, striking another vehicle, the report said.

McKenney continued driving, with the woman hanging out of the vehicle. She yelled for him to stop and finally couldn’t hold on any longer and let go, falling onto the ground. At the time, the vehicle was driving on grass, so the woman landed there instead of the road, the report said.

A motorist behind McKenney stopped to help the woman, and they tried to follow the vehicle, but it was going too fast and the woman saw a police officer trying to stop McKenney, so they stopped, the report said. The woman called police so she could get her children, the report said.

After a high speed chase with police that lasted about a half-mile, McKenney stopped the vehicle near a day care off Fairview Road where the children were found safe. After leaving the vehicle, police say McKenney ran across a creek and into the nearby Carefree neighborhood. When a sheriff’s deputy spotted him riding a bike in the neighborhood shortly after, he ran again, according to police reports.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.