Shooter charged: Alleged theft ends in deaths of pregnant woman and unborn child

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By The Staff


Morgan County News Editor

An alleged attempt to steal a radiator valued about $5 at a salvage facility ended in the deaths of a woman and her unborn child, according to Sheriff Dennis Ledbetter. And the alleged shooter now faces two counts of second degree murder.

Ledbetter said a 911 call was received at about 10:52 Monday morning from a resident of the Bitter Creek community at 1628 Morgan County Highway.

The caller, identified as Robert Stoll, 40, reported that a white vehicle had pulled into his driveway and the occupants had stolen a radiator and were driving toward Wartburg. The caller did not say anything at that time about firing a shot.

“Just a short time later, we received a call from Ambulatory Care ... it was reported that a lady about eight months pregnant had been shot. And also another guy had been shot,” Ledbetter said.

This was just a matter of minutes from the time Stoll reported the theft, according to Ledbetter.

“The description of the vehicle was basically the same and we linked the two together. Once we did go and confront Mr. Stoll, he did state that he fired a shot into the vehicle,” the sheriff said.

The woman was identified as Jessica Hatmaker, 25 of Pioneer in Scott County. She was driving the car at the time the shot was fired.

In the car with her were her 14-month-old son, who was seated on the backseat on the passenger side. Also in the car were Dustin Gunter, 26, of Glenmary and Audie Ellis, 27, of Robbins.

Gunter is reported to be the father of Hatmaker’s son and unborn child.

Ellis is believed to have gotten out of the car at Stoll’s residence and went into the yard around a storage building, according to officials.

“Stoll came out of the residence and Ellis got in the rear seat of the vehicle which started to leave. Stoll fired one shot which passed through the back door and the front driver’s seat striking Hatmaker in the back. Gunter moved her into the passenger seat and drove to Ambulatory Care Center in Wartburg. She and the unborn child were pronounced dead a short time later,” Ledbetter explained.

Ledbetter said that a .30-30 high powered rifle was recovered at Stoll’s residence and is believed to have been used to fire the shot.

Ellis who was seated behind Hatmaker was wounded. “He had some bullet fragments in his leg.” His injuries are not life threatening.

The sheriff said that there is no indication that the alleged thieves threatened Stoll’s safety in any way. No weapons were found during a search of the vehicle.

Stoll is in custody pending a bond hearing.

Charges may also be brought against the men traveling with Hatmaker at the time of the shooting.