Jackson County

Her stolen truck was returned, but she’s not sure she wants it anymore

A fake tag was placed on Debbie Landry May’s truck after it was stolen from her Vancleave home.
A fake tag was placed on Debbie Landry May’s truck after it was stolen from her Vancleave home. Courtesy

When Debbie Landry May of Vancleave had her 2007 Nissan Frontier stolen from her home on Hazel Bound Road on Oct. 17, she offered a $1,000 reward for the return of her beloved truck.

May got a call that her truck had been found in Pensacola on Wednesday. And although her truck is back in her possession, she said she’s not so sure that she wants it anymore, especially in its current condition.

“We drove to Pensacola to get it from the impound yard and when we got it, it was full of drug paraphernalia, like lighters and pipes and spoons and a lot of stuff like purses and wigs in boxes — things that looked they had been stolen,” she said.

May and her husband had brought the truck on a trailer more than 100 miles from Pensacola to Vancleave and it was full of evidence needed by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

The back story

May said she received a call Wednesday that her truck had been found in the parking lot of a motel in Pensacola. She said she had been notified that three people had been arrested in connection with the theft of her pickup.

Arrested were Phillip Jernigan, 30,on charges of possessing stolen property and trafficking meth; Jennifer Cox, 31, on a charge of possession of stolen property; and Joseph Lewis, 40, on charges of possession of meth and possession of a controlled substance.

All three are from Baldwin County, Alabama. Bond has not been set for Jernigan, Cox and Lewis.

A dirty truck

May said she and her husband left for Pensacola with a flat-bed trailer to bring the pickup home.

“My truck was almost unrecognizable when I saw it,” she said. “The roof rack had been removed and it looked really rough.”

She said the truck’s exterior was nothing compared to the state of its interior.

“It was filthy and it reeked and it was full of stuff — purses and jewelry and spoons and lighters — stuff I was really worried about the police finding if we had gotten stopped on the drive home,” she said.

May said they stopped by the Escambia Sheriff’s Office to discuss the contents of the truck before they left Florida.

“We waited about two hours and someone finally just told us we needed to take the truck, that it was really not their concern anymore,” she said. “So we did.”

Uh oh

On Thursday, May said she received a call from Escambia County regarding the truck.

“I got a call from Escambia County and they said, ‘You weren’t supposed to take the truck,’ — no duh, we tried and tried to tell them they hadn’t cleaned out the truck — they removed the quantities of drugs that was in it, but that was it,” she said.

She said she was given specific instructions on what to do with the truck until it can be taken back to Pensacola. The vehicle has been secured, locked and is under surveillance until it leaves to be impounded on Monday.

Another reward

May has increased the reward to $2,000 for information that will lead to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for stealing her truck.

“We’re not certain the people that have been arrested are the ones that stole it,” she said. “The investigators think it may be part of a ring where people steal vehicles and then chop them up and use them to traffic drugs.”

The truck theft is under investigation by law enforcement in Jackson, Baldwin and Escambia counties.