Criminal couple flee from cops but can’t escape the long arm of the law

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Ashleigh Wilhelm, left, and Ryan Lapsley were booked into the jail and are facing numerous charges regarding drugs, felony flight, theft, fraud, and more.

Phoenix-area couple lead police on a high-speed chase through Pima

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

PIMA – A Phoenix-area crime couple momentarily escaped arrest after fleeing Pima Police in a high-speed chase through town on Saturday, however, they were later apprehended by officers with the San Carlos Police Department and taken to jail in Graham County.  

Ryan Scott Lapsley, 31, of Glendale, was arrested on charges of tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of misconduct involving weapons, forgery, possession of a forgery device, theft, trafficking in stolen property, taking the identity of another person, theft of a credit card, and conspiracy. He was booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility.

Ashleigh Dawn Wilhelm, 30, of Peoria, was arrested on charges of unlawful flight from law enforcement, two counts of excessive speed, endangerment, reckless driving, aggressive driving, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia, misconduct involving weapons, forgery, possession of a forgery device, theft, trafficking in stolen property, taking the identity of another person, theft of a credit card, fraudulent schemes and artifices, and misconduct with a weapon. She was also booked into jail.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Ashleigh Dawn Wilhelm

According to a Pima Police report, an officer attempted to perform a traffic stop on a black Hyundai station wagon Wilhelm was driving for speeding 57 mph in a 35-mph zone on Center Street. Wilhelm declined to yield and instead fled eastbound on 200 North at a high rate of speed. She then ran a stop sign and headed up Main Street back towards Center Street while she and her passenger, Lapsley, began moving things around in the vehicle, according to the report.

Wilhelm continued to speed through residential streets until ultimately popping out onto U.S. Highway 70 and headed westbound. The officer continued pursuit as Wilhelm attempted to pass a truck in the area of Tripp Canyon Road. The pursuit exceeded speeds of more than 100 mph.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper joined the pursuit and reported seeing the couple throw out multiple yellow bags in the area south of Eden Road. The bags were later recovered and were found to have methamphetamine inside. The DPS trooper advised that one of the subjects in the car was either holding a gun or made a hand gesture of a gun toward him during the pursuit.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Ryan Scott Lapsley

While local officers terminated the pursuit after recording the vehicle’s registration information, the couple was ultimately captured in San Carlos by multiple officers with the SCPD. At that time, the SCPD officers noted the couple was arguing over a gun that was located in the car. A .380 Ruger was later recovered from the back passenger seat area.

The Pima officer responded to San Carlos and located numerous items of burglary tools and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle as well as a significant amount of goods that were later learned to have been stolen from the Safford Walmart.

According to a Safford Police report supplemental, Wilhelm was seen on surveillance footage the previous night scanning more than $1,000 worth of goods at Walmart and then leaving the store without paying. A Safford officer later searched the vehicle – which had been towed to a local storage yard – and in addition to the stolen Walmart goods located multiple identification cards and credit cards that didn’t belong to either Wilhelm or Lapsley. A number of counterfeit bills, a printer with “cotton paper” in the print tray, a $100 bill taped to a scanner, and ammunition were also later itemized by the Pima officer.  

During questioning, Wilhelm allegedly advised that she has a gambling problem and that she utilizes meth to stay awake while gambling.

Lapsley, who is a felon on probation in Maricopa County, advised everything in the car belonged to Wilhelm.

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