UPDATED at 7 a.m. Tuesday with additional details from court documents and to add booking photo.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A woman who sped off in a Missouri Highway Patrol car after being arrested on Saturday has been charged with three felonies.
Heather Rene Nesler, 32, of St. Charles, was able to slip out of her handcuffs and steal the trooper's car when the trooper went to retrieve her purse for her, authorities said.
St. Charles County prosecutors charged Nesler with tampering with a motor vehicle, resisting arrest and escaping from custody while under arrest. Her bail was set at $50,000. Online court records did not list an attorney for Nesler.
She lives in the 1100 block of Pike Street in St. Charles.
Nesler was a passenger in a speeding vehicle that was pulled over about 7 p.m. Saturday near the Bryan Road exit of Interstate 70, police said. She was detained because she had several outstanding warrants.
She was handcuffed and buckled into the front seat of the trooper's patrol car. Highway patrol officials say officers commonly put arrestees in the front passenger seat because their patrol cars don't have cages.
The trooper loosened Nesler's handcuffs on her left wrist because she said they were hurting her, police said. She asked for her purse and the trooper walked to the other vehicle to retrieve it.
Nesler drove off on I-70 with the car's emergency lights on — and the trooper's loaded AR15 rifle behind her, according to court documents. The patrol car was found abandoned, with its engine running, about 20 minutes later in the parking lot of the O'Fallon American Legion. She grabbed her cellphone and ran off.
Nothing from the patrol car was missing, authorities said.
A St. Charles County sheriff's deputy found Nesler inside a trash can in the 700 block of Cordes Street in O'Fallon.
Nesler was wanted in St. Charles for failure to appear in court, possession of a controlled substance and stealing. She was also wanted by O'Fallon police for a traffic offense and not having proof of insurance; she was sought by Troy police on allegations of stealing, trespassing and failure to appear in court; and was also wanted in Lincoln County for failure to appear.
Court records show Nesler previously served time in jail for stealing and has pending charges related to marijuana possession and stealing.
Taylor Tiamoyo Harris and Kim Bell of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.