Highway Patrol seeing more hitchhikers, don't pick them up

Published: May. 9, 2009 at 11:09 PM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2009 at 12:04 AM CDT
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Courtesy: Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Bethany Goodenough and David Obermiller
Courtesy: Harrison County Sheriff's Department, Bethany Goodenough and David Obermiller

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Harrison County Sheriff officials say a meeting with Texas officials is planned first thing Monday morning to get two accused murderers extradited back to South Mississippi. Investigators believe 51-year-old Thomas Corbin of Ocean Springs was killed by two hitchhikers he picked up last week.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has a warning for anyone who might pick up hitchhikers, don't do it. Officers say although it may seem like a nice gesture, you could be putting your life in jeopardy.

If you drive Interstate 10 on a regular basis, chances are you've seen people stand on the side of the road trying to get a passerby to stop and give them a ride.

"Whenever we see hitchhikers or anyone on the side of the roadways, it's law enforcement's job to check these individuals' i.d. and make sure they're not on the run. They could be wanted in different states," Highway Patrol Spokesperson Corporal Johnny Poulos said.

"The motorists do not have that luxury to be able to check i.d.s Whenever you put someone in your car, an individual or individuals, it does not take them long to take over the vehicle. It's not worth putting yourself or your family's lives at risk."

Investigators believe a decision to pick up two hitchhikers cost Corbin his life. Corbin was found dead at the Crystal Inn in Gulfport on Sunday, May 3rd. 20-year-old Bethany Goodenough and 21-year-old David Obermiller were charged with capital murder and are in jail in Texas.

Officers say many times, hitchhikers appear harmless.

"Some people will actually dress to present that image that, 'I'm fine. I'm just in a bad situation financially. Will you pick me up?' That is a decoy to get motorists to stop and pick them up,"said Poulos.

The Highway Patrol warns not only is it dangerous to pick up hitchhikers, but it's also a bad idea to hitchhike because of the risk of getting into a stranger's car.

Poulos said, "You do not know who is picking you up because it's not just the hitchhikers that could possibly be criminals. It could be a criminal that has a car that is picking you up, so you have to use good judgement."

Highway Patrol officials say instead of picking up hitchhikers, call 911 and give authorities their location. Officers say they will go and try to help the person.

"We think that it's due to the economy. People are losing their jobs. They do not have vehicles. They have to get from point A to point B," said Poulos. "So we are seeing more hitchhikers on the road; the motorists are going to see more hitchhikers on the road. Keep this mind. You don't want to take that chance of putting someone in your car that could actually take over the vehicle and put yourself and your family's life at risk."

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