Elkhart man allegedly stole vehicle with children inside

Jeffery Estep

GOSHEN — An Elkhart man faces charges including auto theft and domestic battery after allegedly driving off in a woman’s car with her two children in the back.

Jeffery Estep, 28, was arrested following the June 3 incident and charged with domestic battery with a previous conviction, a Level 5 felony, and auto theft, a Level 6 felony. He was also charged with domestic battery in the presence of a child, a Level 6 felony, and domestic battery as a misdemeanor.

He was booked in the Elkhart County Correctional Facility on $25,000 bond. His initial hearing was held Monday in Elkhart County Superior Court 1.

According to court documents:

The victim told police she had arrived at the Holiday Village Mobile Home Park on C.R. 108 around 5:30 p.m. when a vehicle she didn’t recognize stopped in front of her in the entrance to the park. She said Estep got out of the passenger side and approached her vehicle.

She quickly locked all her doors but couldn’t get the driver’s side window up in time. Estep reached through the open window and opened her door from the inside, then punched the woman in the face three times with his fist, leaving a bruise under her left eye.

He grabbed her by the wrist, causing her to fall out of the vehicle, and he jumped in the driver’s seat. The woman tried to get her children, ages 8 and 4, out of the back seat but the doors were still locked.

Estep drove westbound on C.R. 108.

The victim called Estep’s mother and asked her to pick her up. While on the way, the mother said she spotted Estep driving the vehicle and asked him to drop the kids off at her home.

Police found the children at the mother’s residence, uninjured. Estep’s mother, meanwhile, took the victim to the Elkhart Police Department to make a report.

Police tried to find Estep but were unsuccessful until an officer with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office saw him on the side of the road on C.R. 8, near Ash Road, just after midnight the next day. The vehicle he allegedly stole was not found in the area and the keys weren’t in his pocket.

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