TOWN OF WALLKILL - A West Virginia couple was arrested for stealing a U-Haul and driving it north with their 6-month-old baby secured to the front bench seat by ratchet straps.
Toni Walker, 29, and Joseph Willis, 35, both of Parkersburg, West Virginia, were arrested Tuesday at around 12:50 a.m. after stealing a U-Haul moving van Dec. 31, 2019, from someone they knew who had rented it and driving north on Jan. 1 to Newburgh, where Walker had family in the area, according to state police Troop F Public Information Officer Steven Nevel.
The couple stayed at a local motel but needed gas, which brought them to the Wallkill Rest Area on Interstate 84, where someone subcontracted by U-Haul to search for stolen vehicles found the van, looked it up and determined it was stolen, reporting it to 911.
As the couple got out of the vehicle when state troopers arrived, the first-responders saw the child seat with the infant inside and after searching the vehicle, they found hypodermic needles and used bags of heroin.
"If you can imagine a U-Haul truck, you have those two captain seats and then the center is where the child seat was, and it was secured by a ratchet strap to both front seats, which obviously isn't safe," Nevel said.
Walker and Willis were both charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, endangering the welfare of a child, possession of hypodermic needles and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
Both were issued appearance tickets to return to Wallkill Town Court on Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.