Driver who abandoned load of frozen chickens arrested

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Monday, September 29, 2014

Idaho authorities have finally arrested a trucker who allegedly abandoned $80,000 worth of frozen chickens at a Montana truck stop last month.

Police said the suspect – 42-year-old Christopher L. Hall – was arrested on a fugitive warrant for federal parole violation. No charges have been filed in connection with the trailer, which sat abandoned at a Flying J Truck Stop west of Missoula, Mont., for at least a month before being discovered last week when the rotten cargo began seeping out of the trailer. Hall is also being investigated for the theft of the 2013 Volvo tractor that he used to haul the load, and a possible extortion charge, according to Nampa, Idaho, Police Department Sgt. Joe Ramirez.

Ramirez said the victims – Nampa-based trucking company Dixie River Freight – reported the tractor and trailer driven by Hall stolen on Aug. 27, approximately six days after the load of frozen chickens was supposed to be delivered from Springdale, Ark., to its destination in Kent, Wash.

Ramirez said the trucking company told police that Hall was supposed to pick up the load on Aug. 19 and deliver it to Washington on Aug. 21, but was late and ended up arriving at the Springdale facility on Aug. 20. Once he had the load, Ramirez said Hall sent the owners of the company repeated requests for more money to complete the trip.

“When he didn’t show up at the Kent location, they obviously became concerned,” he said. “They made several attempts to get hold of him. He did contact them via text most of the time, asking for more money for lumpers and for fuel and whatnot. After two or three days of promises the chicken was going to be delivered and it wasn’t, they did contact police.”

It took more than a month for the abandoned trailer to be found at the Missoula Flying J, where the cargo eventually began to putrefy. An unknown amount of rotten chicken fluids began leaking out of the trailer into the truck stop parking lot. The missing Volvo tractor was located last week at a Walmart parking lot in Nampa.

Hall was on federal parole for a 2009 charge in which he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to court records available through PACER – an online database of federal court filings – Hall was convicted of undisclosed felony charges in Virginia in July of 1996.

A search of the Virginia Courts Case information shows multiple felony charges attributed to a Christopher Leighton Hall, including grand larceny, forgery and breaking and entering.

Ramirez said police initially filed the report as a “suspicious circumstances” case, and said it was only after investigating further that they realized they had a potential criminal case on their hands.

“We had to take a look at the circumstances and facts and try to figure out whether or not this was a criminal offense or if this was going to be some sort of a civil action that the owners of the truck would have to take against their driver,” he said.

“This happens a lot more than people are aware of,” he said. “Mainstream media have no idea that this is a regular occurrence. We see it all the time. Nine times out of ten, the owner did not pay the driver and the driver wants to get back. Or he can’t deliver because he doesn’t have the fuel or the wages for the labor he was doing, and they end up leaving the truck at a truck stop. Most of the reports that we get like that are not of a criminal nature. It ends up being a civil matter between the owner and the driver.”

According to an Associated Press report, the trailer was finally towed from the truck stop last Friday to a nearby landfill, after the holes were plugged. The load was dumped into a fresh pit and buried.

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