CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (TCD) -- A woman will spend six to 12 years behind bars after pleading guilting to a string of crimes, including setting fire to a historic building, stealing a vehicle, and attempting to kidnap her son.
The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday, June 13, that Chontelle Shirk pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, robbery of a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking, fleeing attempting to elude a police officer, criminal mischief (causing a fire), criminal attempt to kidnapping, criminal trespass, and aggravated assault of a protected party.
According to the statement, on Nov. 19, 2021, Shirk and a friend, Kaitlin, were riding in a car in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, when Shirk "suddenly yelled for Kaitlin" to get out and "began to act irrational." Shirk reportedly physically forced Kaitlin to exit, stole the vehicle, and drove off.
The District Attorney’s Office said Shirk then drove to a barn on Lebo Road in Penn Township, where she "caused a fire to start within the barn," owned by a family who built it in the early 1900s. The barn was destroyed as a result.
Shirk reportedly fled the scene on foot and trespassed into a home garage, where she stole a Jeep Compass. At the time, the family who owned the home was present, including a minor boy. The District Attorney’s Office said the victim’s wallet, identification, and credit cards were inside the Jeep when it was taken.
Later that day, the District Attorney’s Office said Shirk went to her ex-husband’s home in Silver Spring Township and tried to kidnap her biological son, who lived there with her ex and the child’s stepmother. Shirk reportedly used a baseball bat to break through a glass door and began yelling that she was "there for the child."
On her way to her ex’s home, Shirk had called a family member to say she "planned to kidnap the child," and that family member alerted police. When police arrived at the scene, Shirk reportedly fled and almost ran over an officer in the process.
The District Attorney’s Office said, "Shirk continued to flee and attempt to evade the police through dangerous driving maneuvers."
Pennsylvania State Police were able to stop her near Route 114 and arrested her on multiple felonies and misdemeanors. Shirk was booked into the Cumberland County Prison on $50,000 bail.
Shirk reportedly lied to jail staff, saying she needed medical treatment. Two days after the crime spree, on Nov. 21, 2021, two corrections officers transported Shirk via car, and she “attempted to escape” by "jumping through the partition." Shirk also reportedly tried "grabbing the steering wheel" and "a firearm of an officer."
The District Attorney’s Office said Shirk "hit the guards," sprayed them with Mace, and "caused bodily injury to the guards." Shirk eventually confessed to officials that she did not need medical treatment and was trying to escape.
Shirk will serve her sentence concurrently with another sentence she is serving from charges out of Dauphin County.