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Accused car thief, kidnapper captured after victim’s sister tracks him down

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  An accused car thief was behind bars Monday after he allegedly stole a car with a teenager inside, then abused him before dumping him on the side of the road.

The case was cracked by the victim's sister, who saw the vehicle on the street days later and chased down the alleged thief.

The mother told police she parked her 2007 Toyota Rav 4 near Covington Pike and Stage Road on August 8. She left the car running with her 13-year-old son inside the vehicle. By the time she returned both were gone.

The suspect, Joshua Bell, eventually figured out the teen was in the back seat. While removing him from the vehicle, police said Bell punched and tossed him around. He then left the kid at an unknown location.

The teen suffered minor injuries, police said.

Several days later, the complainant's sister was driving down Jackson Avenue when she recognized the stolen car.

"I was driving and I saw the truck," said Miranda Merriwether, the victim's sister. "And I said, 'that looks like my sister's vehicle!'"

Soon after she saw the SUV, she lost it, but wasn't giving up, scouring the area.

"I went into like three apartment complexes, I went to Marshall's shopping center, Burlington, looking for the vehicle," she said. "I don't have no gas but I said, 'Lord be with me! Because I'm going to trail him!'"

Merriwether finally spotted the vehicle with Bell inside at the Raleigh library.

She followed the suspect to the McDonald's down the street and called police.

Officers said Bell was sitting in the driver's seat. He was taken into custody and charged with theft of property, kidnapping and child abuse and neglect.

In late March, Bell was arrested in connection to another car theft but this time at the Peabody Hotel.

According to police, Bell stole a car and then rammed it through the security gate to escape.

Several hours later he was pulled over by police and tried to run away. He was arrested and charged with a number of crimes including theft of property, evading police and gun possession.

Prior to that he was arrested for theft of property and violation of probation.