The antennae from the vehicle of interest was found in the grass just beyond the scene of the investigation on U.S. 321 near Summerow Road where Kittle was hit, said Sgt. Kelly Stewart.
Travis Kirk Fitzpatrick, 33, was charged with felony hit-and-run after officials say he struck and killed Sherry Kittle on Highway 321 near Lincolnton. Fitzpatrick eventually turned himself in.
Troopers worked with Skeet’s Auto Body Repair & Wrecker Service in Conover, where William “Bill” Boone was able to determine that the antennae, together with pieces of a broken right front headlight, were from one of three Chevy models—a Suburban, Tahoe or Silverado—from between 2001 and 2006.
After information from a resulting Crime Stoppers tip, troopers went to a residence on Little Mountain Road in Sherrills Ford, where they found a gray Silverado truck with damage to the windshield, grill, headlight housing area and passenger side mirror, as well as a missing antennae.
The truck was in a secluded wooded area, parked next to a building down a dirt drive from the home, officials said, noting it was not visible from the road.
Fitzpatrick was not at home. But his mother, who also lives at the residence, gave investigators his cellphone number, they said.
He was charged with felony hit and run and placed under a $25,000 secured bond.
Kittle was walking along Maiden Highway/Business 321 when she was struck by a vehicle that left the scene. Kittle was later pronounced dead at CMC-Lincoln. According to Sgt. Kelly Stewart, the supervising investigator on the scene, were it not for the actions of Guardado, Boone and Gaston, Highway Patrol might still be investigating the crime.
Sgt. Stewart credited the chain of events beginning with Guardado and his respect for human life. The 12-year-old was so devastated by Kittle’s death that he scoured the debris field in his yard until he found an antenna that helped Highway Patrol narrow down the search for the suspect vehicle to a Chevy.
It was Gary Gaston that went a step further. Though employed by the Highway Patrol as a telecommunications manager, Gaston used his knowledge of the area and his own time to further narrow the search to vehicles of the particular make and model that were owned by people who lived around the scene of the hit and run.
After knocking on numerous doors, Highway Patrol was given the final tip they needed to identify the suspect which led to his arrest.