A Florida woman was arrested this week for allegedly fleeing a peace officer on following a high-speed chase that sent two Wilkin County Sheriff’s deputies down I-94 and into Otter Tail County. Barnesville Police Department and Clay County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the 50-mile chase, where speeds reached 120 miles per hour.
Ashley Dowling, 26, of Haines Florida was stopped near Barnesville, Minnesota, after police slowed her car with stop sticks, upon which she and her boyfriend fled on foot. Dowling rolled over a barbed wire fence where Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Joseph Mattson tackled and cuffed her, according to the criminal complaint. Her boyfriend, later identified as Miles Dittberner, 37, has yet to be caught.
Dowling was charged with felony receiving stolen property, fifth degree felony drug possession of heroin, fifth degree felony drug possession of fentanyl, felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, gross misdemeanor giving a peace officer a false name, misdemeanor DWI, misdemeanor reckless driving, misdemeanor possession of hypodermic syringes or needles, misdemeanor fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle, misdemeanor receiving stolen property and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.
At around 8:30 p.m. Sept. 13, 2020, Deputy Mattson saw a Mazda pull up to a gas pump, but the driver didn’t get out. Mattson ran the car’s plates and they came back as stolen, according to the criminal complaint. After the Mazda left the pump, Mattson turned on his lights to pull over the car. When Dowling did not stop, Mattson instructed her to pull over her car over his loudspeaker.
Eventually, Dowling stopped and Mattson noticed her constricted pupils, slow speech and a track mark on her wrist, indicative of heroin use, according to the criminal complaint. Dowling did not hand over her keys, and instead, drove off onto I-94.
Mattson pursued her at his squad car’s maximum speed of 121 mph, according to the criminal complaint. Dowling was driving at around 120 mph.
Dowling exited the interstate at Exit 50 in Otter Tail County and drove south along County Road 88. Dowling then merged back onto I-94, swerving between cars, the complaint stated.
Dowling hit stop sticks deployed by officers near milepost 26 and came to a stop around 9:15 p.m. After Mattson handcuffed Dowling, he sent his canine to track Dittberner, who had fled into thick woods. The canine lost Dittberner’s tracks, according to the criminal complaint. Wilkin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Devin Lien assisted Mattson with the chase and the search.
Dowling said she fled because she and Dittberner did not believe Mattson was a peace officer, the criminal complaint stated. She also allegedly admitted to using heroin right before Mattson pulled her over, the criminal complaint stated.
Mattson arrested Dowling on suspicion of fleeing a peace officer and searched the Mazda where he found a hypodermic needle. Mattson also searched a box the passenger had thrown and found Q-tips, seven empty hypodermic needles, a hypodermic needle containing what was believed to be heroin, a tin container, a plastic tray, a baggie with white residue, an empty capsule and two capsules containing heroin, the criminal complaint stated.
On the way to Wilkin County Jail, Dowling told Mattson a name belonging to the owner of the stolen car when he asked her again for her name. Dowling was later identified at the jail, according to the criminal complaint.
The owner of the stolen Mazda reported it stolen from her driveway in September, the complaint stated.
Dowling also told Mattson she had swallowed two grams of meth and one gram of heroin, and she was taken to the hospital. Dowling did not pass any drugs at the hospital, the complaint stated.
During Mattson and Lien’s impound search of the Mazda, they found five stolen license plates, more needles and Q-tips, stolen passports, stolen driver’s licenses, stolen employee identification cards, stolen vehicle and health insurance cards, stolen checkbooks and stolen credit cards, the criminal complaint stated. The deputies also found a DNR identification, vehicle registration papers, a hotel invoice, a car maintenance invoice, a veterinarian invoice, vehicle financing papers and a traffic ticket addressed to the owner of the stolen car, according to the complaint.
The deputies also found journals written by Dowling and Dittberner which implicated their alleged involvement in various fraud, theft and burglary schemes around the Twin Cities, the complaint stated.
Dowling will have her initial appearance in court on Sept. 28, 2020, according to court documents.
The maximum penalty for felony receiving stolen property is five years, or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
The maximum penalty for fifth degree felony drug possession is five years, or to payment of a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
The maximum penalty for felony fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle is three years, or to payment of a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.
The maximum penalty for gross misdemeanor giving a peace officer a false name of another person is 90 days, or a fine of $100, and not more than one year, or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
The misdemeanor charges have a penalty of no more than 90 days, or to payment of a fine of $1,000, or both.
The maximum penalty for petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia is a $300 fine.