Driver who tore through Port caught in dumpster

Green Bay man topped 90 mph as motorists, pedestrians bailed from thoroughfare, busy downtown street
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A driver who hit speeds of more than 90 mph as he tore through Port Washington, speeding south in the northbound lanes of Wisconsin Street and flying through a downtown filled with late Friday afternoon traffic, was arrested after he abandoned his car, ran from officers and was found hiding in a maggot-infested dumpster, authorities said. 

Drivers on Wisconsin Street swerved off the road, some of them jumping curbs to avoid the speeding Cadillac, while pedestrians ran for cover at about 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

“He could have plowed into cars or run pedestrians over,” Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said. “It’s amazing that no one was injured or killed. We’re really lucky.”

Jordan D. Murdock of Green Bay, who authorities said appeared strung out on drugs, has been charged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with first-degree recklessly endangering safety and two counts of fleeing an officer — all felonies. He is being held in the county jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Murdock, who at 20 years old already has a felony record that includes convictions for armed burglary and bail jumping in Brown County, is charged in Ozaukee County as a repeat offender. He would face enhanced penalties if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy John Layden was monitoring reports from a driver on I-43 who said a car was swerving in and out of traffic, almost hitting other vehicles, when Layden saw the car driven by Murdock exit the freeway on the north side of Port Washington and go through the Arby’s drive-through.

Murdock exited the drive-through and was driving north through the Piggly Wiggly parking lot when Layden activated his vehicle’s emergency lights. Murdock slowly turned around, then quickly accelerated, jumping the curb and driving over grass onto Wisconsin Street, the complaint states. Layden did not chase him for safety reasons.

Port Washington police officer Kirstin Moertl was parked at Drews True Value Hardware just south of Arby’s and saw Murdock’s car race past, heading south in the northbound lane. 

Moertl pulled out and followed Murdock as cars skidded off the street to avoid the speeding Cadillac, but she broke off the chase after losing sight of him.

As Moertl continued south on Wisconsin Street, drivers honked their horns and gestured to let her know Murdock was headed toward downtown, where authorities say he sped south on Franklin Street, then managed to make the turn onto Grand Avenue.

“It was amazing, given the speeds he was estimated to have been traveling, that he managed to make that the turn, although one of his tires was flat so maybe he hit the curb,” Hingiss said. 

As officers were searching for Murdock downtown, they received a report that he had abandoned his car in the lower parking lot of the Harborview Hotel along the west slip of the harbor and was running south toward Coal Dock Park.

Murdock then doubled back on the harborwalk, cut through the hotel’s lower parking lot and was seen near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Franklin Street, Hingiss said.

As the search for him continued, a witness directed officer Gary Belzer to a dumpster in an alley off Franklin Street near Bernie’s Fine Meats where he found Murdock hiding.

  After climbing out of dumpster, Murdock, who had glossy eyes and was sweating profusely, nodded off and began falling backwards, the complaint states.

“It was readily obvious to her (Moertl) that he was under the influence of some type of drug,” according to the complaint. Police later found a 21-year-old Green Bay woman who was a passenger in Murdock’s car at the Saukville Walmart store. After interviewing her, they determined she had not committed a crime and allowed her to leave, authorities said. 

Noting the potential for disaster on streets filled with motorists and pedestrians, Hingiss said officers made the right call by discontinuing their chases.

“We have a pretty restrictive pursuit policy, which is based on a number of variables including the time of day, traffic and speeds,” he said. “This was definitely a high-risk situation.”

Hingiss also said that witnesses who made it clear they will not abide such reckless behavior in their city were instrumental in catching Murdock.

“A lot of witnesses who were really upset with this guy and scared came forward to help us,” he said. “That’s awesome. We really appreciate the relationship we have with the public.”

Murdock is scheduled to appear before Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy on Friday, Sept. 20, for a preliminary hearing.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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