Like anyone else who is stuck in traffic and in a hurry, Elizabeth McKeown was frustrated that the car in front of her “wouldn’t go.”
She needed to get to the bank, the 46-year-old later told police. So, she nudged the car in front of her a few times.
McKeown, driving a black Ford Mustang, then proceeded to push “on the gas as hard as [she] could” — accelerating directly into a vehicle being driven by 57-year-old Barbara Foster, according to a probable cause statement obtained by The Washington Post. Foster, irate, emerged from her vehicle and began yelling at McKeown before inspecting the damage.
Police say McKeown later confessed it was then that she hatched a devious plan.
According to police, she told investigators “I tricked her, you know, make her think I was going to be nice, be still and everything.” Instead, she said she slammed her car into Foster and “cut her in half,” police said.
Upon arriving to the scene after the Nov. 20 incident in Springfield, Mo., police said they found Foster unresponsive with an apparent head wound and broken legs. A witness told police that Foster was “dragged several feet” by McKeown’s car until she was dislodged from underneath, according to the police statement. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police say that after striking Foster, McKeown tried to flee. She was impeded by several other vehicles, however, and was unable to travel through an intersection. She was arrested shortly afterward.
Now, McKeown — who apparently told police she just wanted to make her car payment — is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the fatal road-rage incident. She pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to Missouri online court records. McKeown had no attorney listed as of Wednesday afternoon and is being held in the Greene County jail without bond.
The witness told police of trying multiple times to get McKeown’s attention during the incident — even rolling down a window and shouting to her that she’d just run over someone, the statement read.
But according to the witness, McKeown kept her windows up and simply mouthed the words: “I know.”
Numerous witnesses, as well as drivers who intervened during McKeown’s alleged escape attempt, detailed to television station KY3 Springfield how they worked to prevent her from fleeing. Austyn Adams told the Missouri news outlet that he jumped out of his vehicle and confronted McKeown.
“I looked in the drivers side and she was just sitting there staring, holding the steering wheel. And she looked over at me and just kind of looked back,” Adams said. “She just looked at me, like, no emotion, no anything, just staring. I told her it is like you just ran a person over, you’re going to jail.”
Logan Rader, Foster’s friend and co-worker, told ABC affiliate KSPR TV that she was on the phone with Foster moments before she was killed. Rader said Foster was beloved by her peers. Her co-workers, who considered themselves family, are struggling to come to terms with her death.
“We knew that she had been rear-ended because actually we spoke to her just before,” Rader told the Missouri-based affiliate. “She said, ‘Hey, I just got . . . rear-ended. I got to let you go.’ ”
Rader said she and others were shocked to find out what happened to Foster once she got off the phone.
“The hardest part is just her not being here. It’s just so jarring, and I can’t really get over how unreal it is,” she told KSPR.
Foster’s brother, Robert Ayers, told KY3 Springfield that the family is grateful for the strangers who boxed McKeown in with their cars. Foster was raising her three granddaughters and leaves behind a large family, he added.
“It’s nice to know that there are so many people that took the time and put their own safety at risk to do what they did that night,” Ayers told the Missouri news outlet. “That just blows my mind that they risked their own safety and stuff and stepped up like that.”