Blount deputies: Kidnapping investigation leads to pursuit, false report charge

(source: Blount County Sheriff's Office)

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Deputies in Blount County arrested a man Wednesday morning after a pursuit and later charged a woman with filing a false report in a separate, but connected, incident.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office had been working an abduction case since Sunday involving alleged victim Savanna Nepolis. The suspect was last known to be driving an older model four-door silver BMW.

Early Wednesday morning, officers met with Nepolis at a home in the Eagleton area and moments later, spotted a vehicle matching the kidnapping suspect’s near Topside Road and Pellissippi Parkway. The deputy tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver, identified as Matthew Neal Russell, 35, sped off.

The chase led from Pellissippi Parkway to Old Knoxville Highway into Knox County. Another deputy joined in and followed the BMW onto side streets, Alcoa Highway and Chapman Highway. Eventually they ended up on a dead end street near Downtown Island Airport in South Knoxville where the BMW stopped.

(source: Blount County Sheriff’s Office)

Russell was taken into custody and a female passenger was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital. She was not charged. Deputies found a half ounce of crystal meth in the car as well as $630 in cash.

As it turned out, the vehicle did not belong to the alleged kidnapper, but Russell was a person of interest in a separate narcotics investigation. More crystal meth was found in his motel room.

On Wednesday afternoon, investigators determined Nepolis was not actually kidnapped after all, so she was charged with filing a false report. Deputies are still looking for the alleged kidnapper, Justin Garland, 30, who is still at large. He’s wanted for theft of a motor vehicle. Deputies say he finds vehicles on Craigslist and takes them for test drives, but never returns them.

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