By CHRISTOPHER SARDELLI
Landmark News Services
UNION COUNTY, N.C. – Two small children were whisked to safety, and one man was arrested, after a police chase ended near an abandoned poultry farm just over the North Carolina line Thursday, Dec. 20.
Their father – Dennis Matthew Penny II, 37, of Mount Croghan – was arrested at about 11:45 a.m. on charges of first-degree burglary and kidnapping, according to press releases from both the Lancaster Police Department and Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities had been searching for Penny in connection with two children reported missing from a home in Chesterfield County early Thursday.
Penny took the children – Dennis Matthew Penny III, 5, and Grace Elizabeth Penny, 2 – from their Mount Croghan home about 7:30 a.m.
Penny was reported to be a danger to the children, the releases said.
The Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office immediately issued a statewide Amber Alert for the two children, as well as a be-on-the-lookout-for (BOLO) bulletin, for Penny’s vehicle, a white 2005 GMC Sierra pickup.
Later that morning, the Lancaster Police Department received a tip from Chesterfield County investigators that Penny II may have made a withdrawal from a local bank.
While investigating that information, Penny II was seen by a patrol officer driving on S.C. 9 Bypass West.
Officers tried to stop him along North Main Street near the city limits, but he refused to stop and continued driving north.
Authorities say Penny II eventually pulled over on U.S. 521 just north of the intersection of Hubbard Drive.
Several Lancaster police officers and Lancaster County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene, secured the highway and tried to get Penny II to get out of the car, but he wouldn’t and would not release the children, the releases said.
After minutes of failed negotiation, and based on conversations with Penny II, officers tried to pull him from the vehicle, though he responded by driving away with the children, the releases said.
Deputies chased the pick-up north on U.S. 521, east on Shiloh Unity Road, north along Craig Farm Road toward the N.C. state line.
Penny II then drove through a field near an abandoned poultry farm.
The chase ended when he drove inside a fenced area and was blocked from escaping by authorities.
Officers ran to the truck, grabbed the children and arrested Penny II.
According to the release, the children were emotionally upset, but uninjured.
“The kids are OK,” said Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Matt Shaw at the scene. “All our people are OK and even the guy (Penny II) is OK. There was no major property damage and he’s going to jail.”
Penny was released into the custody of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, who arrived after the chase ended. He is jailed there pending extradition to Chesterfield County for burglary and kidnapping. He also faces charges here.
“The swift and conscientious actions of our law enforcement officers have rendered the arrest of this perpetrator,” said Lancaster Police Department Chief Howard said.
Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile was relieved by the positive outcome.
“This individual’s reckless behavior endangered a great number of lives today and we (are) glad he is in custody,” Faile said.
– Editor’s note: Greg Summers contributed to this story.