Man arrested for hijacking car in Hazelwood
Waynesville resident Mary-Jane Wilkes says she is still shaken up after an alleged armed man hijacked her car last Friday.
The incident happened around 9 a.m. when Wilkes went to the county owned trash collection center on Hemlock Street in Hazelwood to drop off her trash, which is routine for her, she said.
According to Waynesville police reports, Wilkes had left her keys in the car and took the trash out of her trunk to dispose of it. While walking back to her car, she encountered a man, who was later identified as 23-year-old Dillon Hester, who came up behind her and demanded that she back up. He then got in the driver's seat of the car while pointing what appeared to be a gun in her direction and drove away.
According to police reports, the suspect ran over a street sign and the fence at the dump site exit before wrecking and totaling the car. He continued to drive to nearby Belle Meade Avenue when extensive damage to the car prevented him from driving it further.
At that point, Hester fled on foot as an eye witness continued to follow him while on the phone with police dispatch. When arrested on nearby Brook Street officers asked him, "Why did you do this?" Hester replied that, "It felt necessary," according to reports.
Police found the weapon Hester had pointed at Wilkes, which turned out to be an airsoft gun with the orange tip cut off the front, making it appear to be a real semi-automatic handgun.
Because he used the airsoft gun to threaten the victim as if it were a real gun, Hester was charged with felony robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was also charged with driving with a revoked license, two counts injury to personal property, going armed to the terror of the people and felony possession of stolen property.
Wilkes said something as routine as taking out the trash turned into a horrific experience that has changed her life.
"It was very, very terrifying. I did think I was going to die," she said, adding that she is thankful she did not have her 4-year-old grandson in the car with her that day.
She is also thankful for the many eye witnesses who aided in Hester's arrest and who stayed with her and helped calm her down following the incident.
"This has been a real eye opener for me," Wilkes said. "I never thought in a million years that this would happen. I have taken out the trash a million times."
From now on, Wilkes said she will always keep her car keys with her and she plans to get a concealed weapon permit so she can better protect herself in the event something like this happens again.
Hester is in custody under $150,000 secured bond and is due in Haywood County District Court June 11.