DUI suspect accused of stealing patrol car that burned in Baldwin

A Milledgeville man faces charges following the theft of a Georgia State Patrol car that burned Saturday night in the woods near Prosser Road near Baldwin County.

Michael Wayne Tharpe, 21, is charged with theft by taking and criminal interference with government property, said Tom Davis, special agent in charge of the Milledgeville office of the GBI.

Davis said Tharpe was present as the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a domestic dispute on Sparta Highway about 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

A Georgia trooper, who was helping deputies, charged Tharpe with driving under the influence of alcohol as he tried to drive away.

After putting him in the back of the late model Dodge Charger, the trooper went back to assist officers with the dispute and Tharpe managed to get in the driver’s seat and leave the scene, Davis said.

The car was later found stuck between two trees in the woods where it was left running and caught fire.“Looking at the photographs it looks completely burned up,” Davis said.

Tharpe’s relationship to the people involved in the dispute is unclear other than he was present while it was going on, Davis said.