Man faces nine felonies after allegedly kidnapping child on Christmas Day

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CLARKSBURG – An Upshur County man is being held without bond for kidnapping after he allegedly led police on a high-speed chase from Upshur County to Harrison County with an eight-month-old child lying in the passenger seat next to a loaded firearm.

Craig Allen Stimson, 41, of Buckhannon, was arrested Christmas Day and charged with nine felonies, including kidnapping; child abuse with risk of death or serious injury; four counts of wanton endangerment with a firearm; fleeing with reckless indifference to the safety of others; being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm; and being a prohibited person in possession of a concealed firearm.

According to a West Virginia State Police press release and criminal complaints filed in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office by investigating officer Trooper J.S. Tonkin with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, the incident began at about 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day when the E911 Upshur County Communication Center received a complaint that a man was brandishing a weapon at a residence on Greenbrier Drive.

While Tonkin was on the phone with the female caller, the infant’s mother, he reportedly heard two shots fired in the background, and the caller told Tonkin her father, Stimson, had shot at a vehicle on the property prior to leaving with the child in a black car.

Witnesses told assisting investigating officer Cpl. Theron Caynor with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department that the incident began when family members were on their way home from Christmas dinner and Stimson began to act paranoid and “erratic.” Stimson’s mother said he hadn’t been taking medication he was prescribed, the file says.

Stimson then allegedly brandished a silver .40-caliber handgun in the direction of four people, including the female caller and the child. He subsequently shoved his stepfather to the ground while his stepfather was holding the child.

“Once on the ground, [Stimson] pulled the child away” and fled in a black Dodge Avenger, the file says.

The stepfather tried to use his Ford F-350 pick-up truck to block Stimson from leaving with the child, but Stimson stepped out of the driver’s seat and fired two shots – one at the front tire of the truck and one at back tire, according to the complaint. The second shot hit the back tire, deflating it and disabling the vehicle, Tonkin wrote in the report.

Stimson fled in a black Dodge Avenger and Caynor eventually caught up with him near the Lewis-Upshur County line; however, when Caynor activated his sirens and lights, Stimson allegedly failed to stop.

Stimson then continued west on Route 33 at speeds of approximately 85-90 mph, running two red traffic signals near the I-79 exit before merging onto I-79 North towards Clarksburg.

“The pursuit continued until units from the Clarksburg Police Department were able to deploy stop sticks on exit 119 of I-79,” Tonkin wrote.

Stimson drove another quarter-mile to the intersection of Route 50 and the Lodgeville Road in Bridgeport when the vehicle he was driving became disabled. He was then taken into custody without further incident.

When police recovered the child, they discovered the infant had been lying unrestrained on the passenger seat of the vehicle next to a silver .40-caliber firearm, which was “loaded with the safety off,” Tonkin wrote.

Stimson was convicted on a malicious wounding charge dated Aug. 8, 2017 and was consequently prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm, the file says.

Magistrate Mike Coffman ordered that Stimson be held without bail on the kidnapping charge and set his bail at $62,500 each on the other eight charges for a total of $500,000. He’s housed in the North Central Regional Jail and has an additional fleeing from an officer charge pending in Harrison County.