STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – A Sterling Heights woman charged with leading police on a long chase through Detroit and Hamtramck is under investigating for the dumping of a teenage woman's body, officials confirm.
The chase and arrest Tuesday, in which Valerie Mathews, 28, was tackled by a Hamtramck police officer while trying to run away on foot, appears to have been part of a long downward spiral for Mathews.
Mugshots from several arrests over the years have shown the changes in Mathews' appearance. She was arrested on charges ranging from failure to pay child support to drug possession to retail fraud.
But Local 4 has learned she's being investigated for something much more serious.
Police were called last year to an empty lot off 8 Mile Road near Mound Road on Detroit's northeast side for reports of a body. They found a 19-year-old Port Huron woman dead from a heroin overdose.
Meagan Margarette Williams' body had been dumped in the lot days earlier as her family frantically searched for their missing daughter.
Sources told Local 4 that Williams might have been saved if the person who dumped her body had taken to her a hospital or police station. But instead, police suspect Mathews dumped Williams' body and ran.
Mathews calls herself "VL BADD." Sources said Mathews texted her friends that she had dumped the teen's body. Word eventually got back to Sterling Heights investigators. When they found Mathews, she led them to the body, sources said.
Mathews has been under investigation for the dumping of Williams' body ever since, and that's why she desperately tried to escape from police officers earlier this week, sources said.
Local 4 has learned Mathews put teardrop tattoos on her face for Williams.
Mathews charged in police chase
Mathews was charged Thursday in connection with the police pursuit that covered parts of Detroit and Hamtramck. She is charged with third-degree fleeing and eluding. Other charges may be pending.
Authorities said during the arraignment that she has multiple holds in multiple jurisdictions, including Sandusky, Ohio. Bond was set at $50,000 and if she posts bond, she'll have to wear a GPS tether.
A probable cause conference was set for April 13 and a preliminary hearing for April 19.
Officers were dispatched to the area of Gable Street near Stockton Street in Detroit. Their investigation led them to a suspicious van and as police police followed the van and activated overhead police lights, the driver refused to pull over and led police across Detroit's east side and into Hamtramck.
The officer who made the arrest shared her story with Local 4.
The chase weaved through Detroit's east side and the streets of Hamtramck for about 25 miles. It was all part of a possible kidnapping investigation.
Helicopter video showed police chasing a dark blue transit van across yards and through a very tight residential neighborhood. Each time, the driver managed to get away.
The chase ended when Mathews got out of the van near I-75 and Caniff, where she was tackled and taken into custody by Hamtramck officer Nikole Jabour.
"Our dispatch called us to a chase in Detroit regarding a possible child abduction. So my partner and I started going towards the chase," said Jabour.
Police said the chase started when they received a call and believed a child might have been in the van. Mathews reached speeds of 80 mph on the freeway and led police through several neighborhoods, jumping curbs and front lawns.
But Mathews was alone in the van, and she tried to make a run for it at I-75 and Caniff where Detroit and Hamtramck police boxed the van in.
"Her tire started wobbling, so she started losing a bit of control, but we were right on her," said Jabour. "A Detroit police car got right in front of her and was able to stop her. I knew she was about to bail out of the car on foot, so once I saw her bail I started running for her, and I tackled her."
Jabour said she has been involved in chases before, but this is the first time she personally ended one with a takedown.
"This is my first tackle in a chase ... I got up and I was like, 'Woo, that was pretty cool," said Jabour.