PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A suspect has been arrested in connection with a carjacking in Harmar Township on Monday.
According to police, the 32-year-old suspect was arrested Wednesday morning.
The name of the suspect on the criminal complaint reads “Jeanette Mendenhall,” but people who know the suspect call him Jay. Mendenhall was born as a woman, but now lives and is viewed legally in the court system as a man. He now faces charges including aggravated assault and car robbery.
Police say a mother and her kids were outside the FunFest Entertainment Center on Freeport Road when it happened.
The victim’s husband said she just pulled into the FunFest parking lot with their 3-year-old son, Brando, and his 7-month-old sister in the backseat. That’s when a carjacker armed with a knife opened the door of their SUV and demanded the keys.
“It’s still going through my mind how bad it could have been,” Joe Krist, the victim’s husband, said then.
Drivers reported seeing the carjacker driving erratically in the silver Kia Sorento.
Police say the suspect crashed into a guardrail and a utility pole, which he knocked over in Indiana Township.
That’s when he abandoned the vehicle and took off on foot.
Investigators searched in vain, until a witness who claims to know the suspect came forward.
“We got some tips that the person was involved,” said Harmar Police Chief Jason Domaratz. “We had some video surveillance to where we backtracked from the area where the incident happened over into the Oakmont area and Verona,” he said.
One of those tips came from a witness who told police they got a text from the suspect, who they know as Jay.
According to the criminal complaint: “The text stated, ‘I did something stupid,’ and indicated for [the] witness to call. After speaking to the witness, Jay ‘confessed’ that he stole a car from a woman who had two kids.”
A judge set bail for Mendenhall at $100,000 and ordered an evaluation at the behavior clinic.