California woman arrested on multiple charges

By: 
Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Renie Kaufman, 51, Lancaster, California, was arrested on Friday, Oct. 11, on multiple charges, including battery against a police officer, criminal mischief and criminal recklessness, that left property damage and a killed pet in her wake.

At around 2 p.m. that day, Sheriff’s Deputy Abby Powers was sent to a home in Henryville to speak with a man, Brad Edgerton, about a trespasser on a property he takes care of in Flat Rock Estates. The property is vacant and up for sale and the owner currently lives out of state. Edgerton said he and his wife currently clean the house and keep it ready for real estate showings. He got a call from the owner of the house and the owner of the land, asking him to check the property because a woman and a dog were seen there for about two days. When Edgerton arrived, he found a light blue car in the driveway and he called 911. The car also had a California license plate.

Powers arrived and found Kaufman crouched down in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. As Powers approached, she said in her report Kaufman began moving in the vehicle “erratically.” When Powers asked her to exit the vehicle, Kaufman replied, “F*** you, I live here,” and “You can’t be here; go away.” Powers radioed for assistance as Kaufman rolled the window up and turned the car on, continuing to move around in the vehicle and watch Powers in the side mirror.

Powers returned to her police car and unholstered her sidearm, continuing to tell Kaufman to exit the vehicle. Kaufman ignored her and put her vehicle into drive and drove into the backyard of the home to turn around and then into the front yard, driving in several circles, and onto the roadway. Powers went in pursuit.

Kaufman ended up turning onto a dead-end road, where Powers said Kaufman’s vehicle began drifting uncontrollably, crossing left of center multiple times at about 70 mph on asphalt wet from rain earlier that day.

Kaufman continued north on that street onto a private drive and turned around, heading toward Powers as though to hit her head-on. Powers stopped her vehicle and Kaufman threw her vehicle into reverse, backing through a wooden fence and hitting a tree.

Undaunted, Kaufman threw her car back into drive and plowed through the backyard of the home, 8000 S. County Line Rd., hitting a dog, which belonged to the homeowners, killing it. She continued to drive into a heavily wooded area north of the home and struck a metal wire fence, stopping her briefly.

Powers parked in the driveway of the home and approached Kaufman on foot, sidearm drawn. She saw Kaufman continuing to move around in the vehicle and that she had a small brown and white dog in her lap. Kaufman ignored further commands to get out of the vehicle with her hands raised. Instead, she tapped on the window with a pen and made statements about Powers being “the devil.” Powers attempted to open the car door, but it was locked.

Kaufman put her vehicle into reverse, sending the tires spinning in the mud. She switched back and forth between drive and reverse, attempting to free her vehicle. Powers backed away for her safety and Kaufman was able to drive her vehicle forward, over a fence and down a hill, where she took off westward until she struck a tree. Powers said Kaufman made multiple attempts to free the vehicle, but wasn’t successful.

At that time, Deputy Joe Keltner and Indiana State Troopers Kyle Taylor and Justin Smith arrived. All the officers approached Kaufman’s vehicle as she still attempted to free the vehicle, ignoring verbal commands. Smith broke the passenger window in an attempt to unlock the door and Kaufman began to swat at him with her hands.

Chief Deputy Brad Shepherd, who had also arrived, broke the driver’s side window and Keltner was able to reach in and unlock the door. Taylor and Smith were able to get the door open and the dog Kaufman had inside jumped out and ran off into the woods.

Taylor and Smith grabbed Kaufman’s arms to remove her from the vehicle, but Kaufman put up a fight, kicking Taylor in the leg. They were then able to handcuff her and take her into custody. The dog was unable to be found.

Kaufman was medically cleared at St. Vincent-Salem Hospital after her collision with the tree and taken to the Washington County Detention Center.

When Powers returned to the home on South County Line Road, the homeowner said the dog killed by Kaufman was a 3-year-old breeding Shar Pei who had just had a litter of puppies that morning. The homeowner said the dog was worth approximately $5,000.

Powers also returned to the home at Flat Rock Estates and spoke with the landowner, Albert Sweeney, Jr., who said he had seen Kaufman’s car parked in the driveway two days earlier and found Kaufman and her dog behind the house in the pond. He said he approached her and asked her what she was doing. Kaufman reportedly told him she was plugging a hole in the pond “because it goes to Jupiter.” Sweeney then left the property and called the homeowner to tell him about Kaufman.

Kaufman was preliminarily charged with resisting law enforcement, battery against a public safety official while engaged in official duites, criminal recklessness, resisting law enforcement and criminal mischief.

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