VAN METER, Pa. (KDKA) – A strange discovery this Christmas for the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Department.
When they opened a suitcase in a Rostraver home, they didn’t find any clothes, instead, they say they found a wanted fugitive.
On the run since October, Terri Downs-Hayes, 43, is a woman with a significant criminal rap sheet. Her whereabouts unknown, that is until sheriff deputies got a tip she was hiding out in this home in the little village of Van Meter in Westmoreland Co.
Raiding the home on Darr Street proved difficult for law enforcement. Several doors were barricaded with heavy timber. Once inside deputies discovered three occupants all saying they didn’t know where Downs-Hayes was.
Sheriff deputies continued to search the house. They have little luck finding the fugitive and the people inside were not much help. Then deputies came to a bedroom with two pit bulls, strategically positioned in front of a closet door.
With the dogs removed, deputies opened up the closet finding a heavy, awkward suitcase. Deputies were surprised to find what was inside the suitcase.
First, hands appeared. A second later, Downs-Hayes emerged. The Smithon woman somehow stuffed herself inside the travel bag in a desperate effort to evade detection and capture.
Downs-Hayes was wanted by authorities after she failed to show up for several hearings related to serious drug charges she was facing.
Downs-Hayes was taken to Westmoreland County Jail where she is being held on multiple felony counts, meanwhile, the individuals who were inside the house who police say were not cooperative could be facing charges as well.