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Man who had police scouring hospitals after taking girlfriend's SUV finally in custody, police say

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Mar 18 2013 02:30:11 PM CDT
TATAMY, Pa. -

A man who had police checking hospitals in three counties for several days after he drove off with his girlfriend's SUV last December is now in custody, officials said.

Matthew M. Mabus took Raelyn Campanaro's 2007 silver Jeep Grand Cherokee from her home at 550 Main St., Tatamy, Northampton Co., on Dec. 14, 2012, officials said.

Campanaro waited until Dec. 28 to report the SUV missing because she did not want to get Mabus into trouble, officials said.

Campanaro told police she spotted Mabus in her vehicle at a car wash in Lower Nazareth Twp., Northampton Co., on Christmas Day but did not make contact with him, and the next day, when she called Mabus to ask for her SUV, he told her it was in a body shop for front end repairs because it had been hit by a drunk driver, officials said.

When police called Mabus' cell phone on Dec. 28, a man answered and said Mabus was sleeping because he had taken Vicodin for back pain, officials said, adding that Campanaro later told investigators Mabus did not have back problems.

On New Year's Eve, Mabus told Campanaro he had a motorcycle accident after driving at 175 miles an hour and was in the hospital, but Mabus would not say which hospital, officials said.

Over the next several days, police tried to contact Mabus at his parents' home in Bethlehem, and also called various hospitals affiliated with St. Luke's and Lehigh Valley in Northampton and Lehigh counties, as well as Sacred Heart in Allentown and Reading, St. Joseph and Haven Behavioral hospitals in Berks County, officials said.

Mabus, 21, of 44 East Spruce St., Bethlehem, was arraigned late Friday afternoon on a charge of unauthorized use of a an automobile and committed to the Northampton County Prison on $10,000 bail, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing is set for 9 a.m. March 25.