A high-speed police chase Sunday in Carroll County has led to the arrest of a Florida man who has since confessed to a murder in the Sunshine State.
Matthew Allen Barber, 49, of Orange City, Florida was arrested July 8 in Carroll County after leading Hillsville Police Department Sgt. Stephen Brady on a high-speed chase on Interstate 77. Brady said at approximately 9:05 p.m. Sunday, he was running radar on I-77 Northbound at the Hillsville Exit 14 when he observed a blue car that appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed passing vehicles without any headlights on in the left lane. Brady said the vehicle entered his front radar at 90 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone.
Brady said he initiated a traffic stop near the 17-mile marker. He identified the driver as Barber, who stated he wasn’t paying attention and was going to a relative’s funeral.
“I could smell an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. He said he had three or four beers,” Brady said. “After speaking with him also I noticed what appeared to be a firearm lying under a hat in the passenger’s seat of the vehicle. I advised him I was going to hold on to that during the traffic stop for his safety and mine. At this point I walked back to my patrol car and secured the firearm in my vehicle.”
Brady said when he turned to walk back to his police vehicle, Barber fled the scene in a very aggressive manner, causing vehicles to stop on the interstate. Brady said he pursued the vehicle with emergency lights and sirens on in the northbound lanes of I-77 at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.
Brady said Barber ran off the road several times, passing vehicles on the shoulder. At the 19-mile marker, Barber crossed into a work zone, striking several barrels, cones and signs, Brady noted. He said Barber also collided with a vehicle near the work zone, though there was minimal damage.
“It was very lucky nobody was hurt,” Brady said. “When we approached Exit 24 at Poplar Camp, he went to the right shoulder of the road and this time he exited the vehicle. I noticed what appeared to be a large knife in his left hand. He attempted to go up an embankment then he turned toward me and raised the knife. After several verbal commands at gunpoint, Barber dropped the knife. It slid down the hill. I continued to give him commands to get down. He failed to do so. I then transitioned to my taser and gave commands. He still failed to obey commands and I deployed my taser. He fell to the ground. This time I was able to place him in cuffs and other units started arriving on scene.”
Brady said Barber was then searched and taken to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, where he blew a .11 in a breathalyzer test.
“While at the sheriff’s office he said he was running because he was wanted for murder and he stole a car. Dispatch was unable to get anything back because the Florida files were down,” Brady said. “So someone from the Sheriff’s Office contacted Orange City, where he was from, and gave them the information that he stated he was running for murder and he stole a car.”
Brady said the Virginia State Police, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and Wythe County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene. During a search of the vehicle, Brady said two smoking devices were found in addition to green leafy material which field-tested positive for marijuana. Brady said a magazine with ammunition and a box of 9-millimeter ammo was also found in the vehicle.
Brady said he charged Barber with felony eluding of law enforcement, possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, DUI-first offense, reckless driving, obstruction of justice, carrying a concealed weapon, driving with no headlights, and improper passing. Additionally, Virginia State Police Trooper S.M. Cochran charged Barber with felony hit and run and felony destruction of property. Barber is currently being held without bond at New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin.
The Orange City Police Department in Florida issued a press release about Barber on Wednesday, July 11. It stated Orange City Police responded to 2555 Enterprise Drive at approximately 5 p.m. on July 10 to complete a welfare check on a resident at the request of the Hillsville Police Department.
“On Tuesday, July 10, while incarcerated, Barber made statements to the Virginia Corrections staff that he may have harmed the resident at the Orange City address. Orange City officers attempted contact at the door with no response,” Orange City Police said in a press release. “With the information learned from Hillsville, forced entry was made into the Orange City residence by officers to conduct a well-being check on any occupants. Once inside the residence, officers located a deceased female located in a hallway. There were obvious signs of foul play located inside the residence. There were no other persons located inside the residence. The victim has been identified as 58-year-old Hilda G. Bailey of Orange City. The Volusia County Crime Scene Unit responded to assist with processing the scene. The investigation thus far indicates this was not a random act.”
Orange City investigators continue working with Hillsville Police Department officials, the
State Attorney’s Homicide Investigations Unit and the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office concerning this death investigation and incident, according to the press release.
“Orange City detectives will be responding to Hillsville later this afternoon (July 11) to continue the investigation regarding the death of Hilda G. Bailey. An autopsy will be performed by the Medical Examiner’s office later today to determine the cause of death.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN