RUTLAND, Vt. – As the women fled three Kmart store employees with a bag of allegedly stolen items, she ran into some woods and got stuck in a swamp, where a sheriff's deputy caught up with her.
When Jennifer L. White, 24, of Brandon, got to court, Judge Patricia Zimmerman released her on conditions, including that she get drug screening and counseling.
"If you do have a substance abuse issue, which it certainly seems like you do," the judge told White, "you need to get help."
The short-lived chase began around 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, when Kmart employees spotted White leaving the store in the Diamond Run Mall with a bag of goods — allegedly without paying for them.
Three store workers gave chase. White jumped over a guardrail and darted into some darkened woods, got stuck in the swamp and began yelling for help, according to court records.
Rutland County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Richard Putnam, who was patrolling the mall, soon joined the chase. He went down a bank and approached White, who was mixing her pleas for help with expletives directed at the deputy.
"The suspect had become stuck in some reeds in the swamp and could not get out," Putnam wrote in an affidavit filed at Vermont District Court for Rutland County.
"Before I managed to get to the suspect, she was able to free herself and came out to where I was," he added.
After she was told she was under arrest, "White became very belligerent and at one point turned to the three Kmart employees and threatened to get them when she got out," Putnam wrote.
"It should be noted that once placed in my cruiser White voluntarily advised [Putnam] that she had stolen the items from Kmart because if she hadn't a drug dealer was going to shoot her," he added.
During the trip to the Rutland jail, Putnam said, White smashed her head against a steel cage in the cruiser, cutting her forehead. That prompted a detour to the local hospital to get the cut treated.
At her court appearance, White pleaded innocent to the misdemeanor charges of retail theft, unlawful trespass and disorderly conduct.