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Cherished Jeep Returned To Family


A mother whose daughter died was reunited with one of her daughter's cherished possessions this weekend.

Laurel resident Debbie Van Fossen had just repainted her late-daughter Stephanie's 2001 Jeep Wrangler and got it back from the shop when someone stole it from her backyard. She posted to Facebook that her heart was broken, and that the Jeep's tag read, "Stef VF."

Van Fossen wrote that the Jeep was her daughter's "most prized possession."

After the Van Fossens reported the Wrangler stolen, Justin Holifield spotted the vehicle on his way home from Jackson. After calling the owner to confirm it was still reported as missing, he called the Magee Police Department to report the sighting. A short time later, Laurel resident William Ainsworth, 29, was stopped by the Mendenhall Police while driving the Wrangler Sunday. He was taken into custody in Mendenhall by a JCSD deputy and charged with felony taking of a motor vehicle. He is currently at the Jones County Adult Detention Center awaiting his initial appearance in Jones County Justice Court.

Jones County Sheriff Joe Berlin thanked the Mendenhall Police Department for their efforts in stopping this vehicle and detaining the suspects. "It's all about teamwork, and today was another example of how effective law enforcement can be when working together and equipped with knowledge and technology," Berlin said.

Van Fossen posted an update to her Facebook page after the Jeep was returned, stating that the Jeep had been found, but the top is missing."I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for sharing and helping," she wrote. "We wouldn't have found it without your help."


****Story in Laurel Leader-Call, May 10, 2021 Issue

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