Bounty hunters track down woman accused of dragging, running over Sedgwick Co Deputy

Posted: Updated:
Melissa Heinzman during her arrest (Courtesy: Godwin Fugitive Recovery) Melissa Heinzman during her arrest (Courtesy: Godwin Fugitive Recovery)

A woman wanted for allegedly running over a Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy’s foot last month now could spend almost 24 years in prison and owe up to a $300,000 fine.

Melissa Heinzman made her first appearance in court Wednesday on three felony charges related to a traffic stop last month.  Those charges are aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries and interfering with a law enforcement officer’s duties. 

The sheriff’s office says a deputy pulled Heinzman over on a felony warrant in June, Heinzman ignored orders to get out of her car and then took off, dragging the deputy 100 yards before running over her foot. 

This sparked a manhunt that lasted more than two weeks.  But no one found Melissa Heinzman until her bond company hired Godwin Fugitive Recovery Agency.  Shawn Godwin and his team, Beau Erhardt, Kenny Gruver and Marlo Muñoz, tracked Heinzman down to a home near Hydraulic and Marion Rd in Wichita.

“In my head, I mean, this was a big one,” Godwin said about the capture.  ““This one meant a little bit more than just your average capture that we go after.”

His teams often work closely with law enforcement on cases.  Tuesday he was on the phone with dispatch as he announced his presence outside the home Heinzman was hiding in and told her to come out.

“We probably spent five to eight minutes on the search of the house and found her in the basement,” Godwin said.

A bond company called him on Sunday, asking him to track Heinzman down.  Already wanted on a felony warrant, Heinzman now faced accusations she’s injured a deputy trying to get away.  Godwin and his team got to work.

“We got some information that she was out in western Kansas in the Stafford County area,” he said. 

There, he says, they dug up more details pointing back to a home in Wichita.

“She knew we were coming.  She had heard us.  She had had a pair of shoes and asked us just to let her put her shoes on,” Godwin said.

After all the running, it was almost as if she’d been waiting for them.

“I had told her, I said, ‘What you did was wrong and you know it was wrong.  And it's time to face the music,’ and she said, ‘I know.  I'm just scared.’”

Godwin says if Crimestoppers pays out the $2,500 reward in this case, he’ll donate it to the injured deputy to help with recovery costs.

The sheriff says the deputy faces surgery on her ankle in a few days and at least 12 weeks off the streets.

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