Jesse Phillips had no idea who Derrick Estelle was until a brush with law enforcement officers in Kansas City put him in the loop.
Phillips, a Lee’s Summit resident and owner of Vision Landscape, was on a job site Aug. 13 in Kansas City when armed law-enforcement officials, based on a tip, mistook him for the wanted Arkansas man.
Estelle, 33, broke out of Arkansas’ Garland County Jail July 28 and was believed to be headed into Missouri in a Dodge pick up truck.
Television station KMBC-TV reported a similar truck was seen last week after Overland Park police spotted a pickup truck weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 35 that matched the description of the one Estelle was last seen in.
As it turned out, Phillips’ truck was remarkably similar.
“They actually had their assault rifles out,” Phillips said when reached Aug. 15 by the Journal. “It just kind of caught you off guard and you’re like, ‘may I help you?’ You’re just kind of wondering what’s going on.”
The ordeal left Phillips not shaking, nor stirred, but relieved that law enforcement was on the case.
“I was just a little shocked; a little unnerved,” he said. “You hear of people being escaped and you just wonder what is happening. At least you know they are actively looking for them at all times. When they get a tip they do follow up on it. They were just doing their job.”
Phillips’ encounter with the police left him no other alternative but to do a little homework on Estelle, he said.
“As far as I know, (Estelle) is still on the lam,” Phillips said. “I hadn’t heard of him before this incident. I just hadn’t paid any attention and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I went home and looked him up on the computer. They told me his name and told me he was a fugitive, but at that point I just kind of thought I needed a little more information.”
And what has Philips been doing since his brush with the law Aug. 13? Busy with work, he said, in the same pick-up truck.
“I didn’t think it was newsworthy,” he said of his ordeal. “I talked to the lady from KMBC-9 and the other two stations called me and wanted to do interviews (Aug. 14), but I had a prior commitment and I haven’t heard back from them.
“I just went back to work. I just finished up today and I went back to work (Aug.14).”