for immediate release
January 2, 2003

N E W S   R E L E A S E

A Fort Walton Beach woman is in custody after stealing a deputy's 1999 unmarked Crown Victoria and fleeing from officers during a routine traffic stop.

Jessalynn Mae Harness, age 24 (11-12-78), of Fort Walton Beach, was arrested after a brief pursuit which ended at the intersection of Lewis Turner Blvd. and Hospital Road. Harness will be charged with grand theft auto, reckless driving, and aggravated fleeing and eluding.

Investigator John Merchant became suspicious of Harness after stopping her for careless driving. Harness failed to provide driver's license information or proper identification. After providing false information about her identity, Investigator Merchant placed her under arrest. While in the back of the patrol car, Harness was able to free herself and take possession of the patrol car while deputies were speaking to the passenger of her vehicle. Deputies were unable to locate the stolen vehicle for approximately one hour.

Sheriff Morris joined the search and located the vehicle at the intersection of Lovejoy Road and Hill Avenue. Sheriff Morris, along with other deputies, engaged in a brief pursuit in the Wright area. Harness was apprehended when she lost control of the vehicle and struck a curb and fire hydrant trying to make a u-turn. Additional charges are pending.


For more information contact Nicole Wagner, Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

(850) 609-3028 pager: (850) 986-8093