Tip leads to arrest in fatal Jefferson County hit-and-run

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Family members of William Bentley, 44, had just about given up hope that authorities would be able to find the person who hit his scooter and ran, leaving him for dead by the side of the road. But thanks to a tip and missing bumper, an arrest has been made.

It happened April 24, 2016, as Bentley was riding his Honda scooter on Missouri Highway 30 just east of Route BB in Jefferson County at about 3:00 a.m. Bentley's body landed in a ditch at the point of impact but the suspect’s vehicle continued for nearly a mile down the road dragging the scooter underneath until the driver finally stopped to pull it off.

Based on fuzzy security camera video, police believed they were looking for a white SUV. Now, thanks to a tip, the Missouri Highway Patrol has arrested a 25 year old man and they are seeking charges against him of felony leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence.

Because he has not been formally charged, FOX 2 is not revealing his identity.

Bentley's father says a trooper told him the suspect confessed and apologized, claiming he was reaching for a cell phone he dropped when he accidentally hit the scooter.

“Sorry just ain't good enough,” said Bentley’s father, also named William,from his home in North Carolina. “I hate it for the guy that hit him but then you’ve got to take into consideration I lost a son and he just didn’t seem like he couldn’t care less the way I took it,” he said.

As for the tampering charge, Cpl. Juston Wheetley of the Missouri Highway Patrol offered a partial explanation.

“There were some pieces missing from the vehicle that we were able to find at a separate location and we put that together and we were able to connect it all with the crash itself,” he said.

The vehicle turned out to be a Chevy Trailblazer, and a source close to the investigation says the missing part was the bumper, although Bentley's father says a trooper told him the SUV's windshield had also been recently replaced. A private investigation firm called Captured Investigative Agency volunteered to help the victim's family find answers, and they say our previous story on their efforts, along with fliers they put out describing the vehicle, and a $5000 reward may have led to the tip.

“We were just doing what we thought was right but we also want to give a lot of credit to the public, who would share stories on social media, to FOX 2 who pressed the story for us, because a lot of times people like William just become a statistic,”said Investigative Assistant Jessica Green.

One week from Sunday, Bentley’s family will gather for what they are calling a 'celebration of his life.' And while it will be sorrowful, they will have something else to celebrate: closure.