Pair charged in multi-state crime spree face lengthy sentences

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer June 25, 2012 12:00 am


A violent criminal from Union County and his wife are up for long prison sentences in connection with a 2011 multi-state crime spree that included the shooting of a Wyoming resident.

According to reports, Roy Scott Fritts, whose criminal history includes the attempted murder of Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver in 2001, is looking at a life sentence without parole in Wyoming.

His wife, Jessica Fritts, recently entered guilty pleas to federal charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, aiding and abetting carjacking, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. When she appears for her sentencing in Wyoming federal court Aug. 22, she could receive up to 30 years.

According to an Associated Press story by Ben Neary, a plea agreement for her is contingent on her husband pleading guilty to Wyoming charges of attempted murder and larceny.

In 2001, Roy Fritts was convicted of firing shots at Oliver as Oliver pursued him along Interstate 84 near North Powder. The pursuit ended when the pickup truck in which Fritts was a passenger crashed.

Fritts was sentenced to 10 years and was released to the supervision of Union County Community Corrections in 2011. In July, 2011 he absconded with his wife Jessica, who earlier had a conviction for bank robbery.

According to a report from Detective Dick Blust of the Sweetwater County, Wyo., sheriff’s office, the couple surfaced in Nebraska where they stole a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado, but abandoned it after being chased by police near Cozad. They abandoned the pickup, started hitchhiking, and were picked up by Costa Mesa, Calif. resident Edward Thornell.

The Frittses and Thornell stopped to camp in Sweetwater County and on the morning of Aug. 14, Fritts allegedly shot Thornell several times with a .45 caliber pistol. 

About 10 a.m. Aug. 14, a Rock Springs family driving along a road 15 miles south of Rock Springs spotted Thornell lying along the roadway and rendered aid. Blust said Thornell, 54, had been shot in the neck, torso and arm.

Thornell, who survived his wounds, later said Jessica Fritts was standing nearby when the shots were fired. Jessica Fritts gave a different story, telling police she was some distance away and only heard the gunshots.

Thornell said the couple took his wallet and drove off in the van. Blust said Thornell identified Roy and Jessica Fritts from a photo lineup. The two were later captured following a high speed pursuit in Echo, Utah.

Roy Fritts is currently in custody at the Sweetwater County Detention Center, charged with attempted murder in the first degree and larceny. Bond is set at $1 million, cash or surety.

Attempted murder in the first degree carries a maximum possible penalty of life imprisonment without parole. Larceny is punishable by by up to ten years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

A Feb. 16 report in the Wenatchee World newspaper said that Fritts is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and assault in connection with a metal pipe attack on a federal officer Jan. 3 at the Federal Detention Center in Seattle.