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Highway Patrol Traffic Stop Results In Recovered Stolen Vehicle, Numerous Arrests

On Saturday, Jan. 18, at approximately 12:40 p.m., two troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol initiated a traffic stop on a 1996 GMC Sierra on U.S. Business 60 at Railroad Drive in Willow Springs. The vehicle, driven by Gaige C. Watts, 19, of Willow Springs, was stopped due to a computer entry by the Wright County Sheriff’s Department listing it as a stolen vehicle.  There were three individuals in the vehicle at the time of the stop.
Further investigation and a search of the vehicle revealed evidence of criminal activity involving crimes committed in Howell, Texas, and Wright counties. As a result, four individuals have been charged as follows:
• Gaige C. Watts, 19, Willow Springs – felony tampering with a motor vehicle; felony stealing; driving while suspended; failure to wear a seat belt; displaying plates of another vehicle.
• Travis C. Gauch, 18, Mountain Grove – felony tampering with a motor vehicle; felony burglary; felony distribution of a controlled substance (methamphetamine); felony warrant for larceny (Texas County); misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia; misdemeanor warrant for shoplifting (Mountain Grove Police Department).
• Mavrick B. Hood, 23, Willow Springs – felony theft; misdemeanor warrant for no insurance (Willow Springs Police Department).
• Jacob A. Counts, 29, Willow Springs (arrested at residence by Willow Springs Police Department) – misdemeanor warrant for traffic violation (from West Plains Police Department).
The investigation resulted in the recovery of the stolen pickup, four stolen guns, and three stolen drive shafts. Several residential burglaries and area theft investigations were solved as a result of these arrests.
All four subjects were transported to the Howell County Jail, where Gaige Watts is currently incarcerated. Travis Gauch was transported to the Texas County Jail.  Mavrick Hood posted bond, and Jacob Counts is currently being held at the West Plains Police Department.
Agencies involved in this investigation include the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Howell County Sheriff’s Department, Texas County Sheriff’s Department, Wright County Sheriff’s Department, Cabool Police Department, West Plains Police Department, and the Willow Springs Police Department.
The investigation continues.
The charges for which the individuals were arrested are mere accusations and are not evidence of guilt. Evidence in support of the charges must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.