CARERET COUNTY - A Carteret County woman was arrested after investigators said she vandalized seven school buses before stealing one of them, wanting to take it about 3,000 miles to California.
It was a very strange start to the school week Monday at Morehead City Primary School, as parents were told school would start late because seven buses were vandalized.
Morehead City Police said Jillian Tetterton, 22, showed up at Morehead City Primary School intoxicated very early Monday morning. Carteret County Superintendent Dr. Dan Novey said seven school buses were vandalized. The doors were pried open, fire extinguisher foam had been sprayed everywhere and the contents of the bus were thrown all over the place, but that wasn't all. Police said Tetteron found a hidden key in a bus for special needs children and drove it to a friend's house with plans to take it to California.
"It was ridiculous, I couldn't believe someone rolled up in my house with a stolen school bus," Benjamin Gutherie said.
Guthrie says his wife, Crystal, was an former friend of Tetterton. Guthrie said Tetterton had been over at their house Sunday night because Tetterton was going through a bad breakup, but she then disappeared. Guthrie and his wife looked for her, but couldn't find her. Hours later, Guthrie said, Tetterton showed up at the house with the school bus saying she wanted to go to California. Guthrie said he wanted nothing to do with it, so he called the Carteret County Sheriff's Office. Jillian Tetterton was arrested and charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, eight charges of breaking and entering in a motor vehicle, five counts of damage to property and DWI, according to police.
"I just thank the lord she didn't kill somebody on her way back here," said Tammy Mercer, Gutherie's mother-in-law.
Gutherie, meanwhile, said Tetterton is no longer welcome in his home.
"People get drunk and what not, as long as they have someone around to take care of them, I'm OK with that," Guthrie said, "but when you start showing up with stolen school buses, that's where I draw the line."
Novey said the situation is frustrating because the school will have to spend money on cleaning and repairing the buses and they say that's money they wanted to spend on the children. Novey added that keys aren't kept in all of the buses, but one had been hidden in bus 202 because it had multiple drivers.
"We want to make sure that people don't think they can hop in a bus and find a key and take off. This is an usual occurrence, especially in Carteret County," Novey said.
That two-hour delay Monday morning was so staffers could clean the seven vandalized buses, and the school system wanted to thoroughly check all 15 buses in the lot to make sure they were safe before they picked up students for class.