Behind bars: man accused in crime spree at Cape Girardeau airport in custody


A Cape Girardeau man is out of the hospital and behind bars after an alleged crime spree that ended at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

Charles Benedict Coker, of Cape Girardeau, was charged in Scott County with tampering first degree, stealing, and property damage. His bond was set at $100,000.

It happened on Monday, May 15.

According to Cape Girardeau Police, the incident started at 7:55 a.m. at Walmart on William Street.

Coker reportedly tried to convince the driver of a Frito-Lay truck to give him a ride, but the driver refused.

That’s when he allegedly stole a gray truck from Walmart and went south on Interstate 55 at a high rate of speed.

Investigators said the initial call came in about a suspicious man at Walmart and then a short time later, multiple people called 911 to report a truck driving at a high rate of speed.

Coker took the airport exit and then apparently changed his mind and tried to get back on the interstate, but ended up driving into a muddy field by Youngblood’s Capetown RV where he ditched the truck.

A witness said Coker jumped into an RV at Youngblood’s that still had the keys in it because someone had just dropped it off minutes before.

According to court documents, the owner of the RV said he was leaving the vehicle at Youngbloods to be serviced. While trying to separate his vehicle from the RV, the owner told officers that a man, later identified as Coker, “ran around the building” and got into the RV.

The man said he saw Coker get in the driver’ seat and start driving. The man said he was unable to remove the vehicle that was being towed by the RV and it was taken with it.

According to court documents, Coker went south on Airport Road in the RV.

He then drove the RV right through an electric fence at the airport, according to police.

According to authorities, that’s when witnesses said Coker jumped out of the RV and hopped into a helicopter at Cape Copter.

However, when he realized he couldn’t start the helicopter, witnesses told investigators Coker approached a group of people in a plane that were getting ready to take off.

Coker allegedly told them that he was on a reality show and that cameras were watching. He told them all of the damages would be paid for.

The witnesses said he told them he needed to take their car, but when they told him he couldn’t use their car, he jumped in and locked himself in it.

A short time later, authorities said Coker started complaining that he was hot in the car and wanted to get out. The General Manager from Youngblood, who had followed him from the dealership, was trying to keep him in the car until officers arrived.

Coker got out of the car, so the General Manager threw him to the ground and held the man until officers arrived.

Cape Girardeau police took Coker into custody just after 8:30 a.m.

He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

According to Sergeant Rick Schmidt with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, the Coker will face charges in both Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties because the airport is technically in Scott County’s jurisdiction.

The man will likely face charges related to the truck theft in Cape Girardeau.

According to court documents, the gate, its motor and working mechanisms were completely destroyed. Airport staff said approximately more than $20,000 in damage was done to the gate and mechanisms.

Court documents also state Cape Town RV staff estimated the damage to the motor home was approximately $8,000. Damage to the RV included both windshields, the entire front end and unknown parts on the undercarriage because the vehicle started leaking fluids once it hit the gate.

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