Kristi Blankenship took this photo of her totaled 2013 Lincoln MKX after it was stolen from her April 14. A suspect has been charged in connection with the incident. (Photo courtesy of Kristi Blankenship)

A teacher who was left without an vehicle following an armed attack in her home garage says she’s been overwhelmed by the support of friends and strangers who’ve pitched in so far to buy her a replacement vehicle. 

A friend set up a GoFundMe for Kristi Blankenship after she was threatened at knifepoint shortly after coming back from a grocery shopping run to her home on the 3100 block of W. Grandview Street. 

“Kristi has been an exceptional teacher, always going above and beyond for her students, and we would like to help her during this difficult time,” Bao Bui, the fundraiser organizer, wrote. “Without a car, Kristi is finding it challenging to commute to school, and her ability to continue to serve her students is at risk.”

Blankenship said she’s subbed for Springfield Public Schools in the past and now works full-time for a school district about 45 minutes away from her home. She requested the district not be named. For now, Blankenship said, she’s catching a ride to work with a coworker who has been coming from Willard to pick her up. 

More than $4,300 had been raised through the GoFundMe drive as of early April 20.

Blankenship has that funding, plus $500 she got from a junkyard for the 2013 Lincoln MKX the suspect stole. A Greene County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted the SUV near South Campbell Avenue and Farm Road 178 early on April 15, according to a release on the department’s Facebook page. The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, according to the release, and then “the suspect fled and crashed off the roadway nearby before he was taken into custody.”

“The detective told me he went over a 30-foot embankment over by Outback Steakhouse,” Blankenship said. After she paid $130 in tow fees, she recovered a few items from her totaled SUV at a tow yard. 

GoFundMe drive helping crime victim at especially difficult time

Blankenship said she’s been going through financial difficulties and a divorce, and in response had been cutting costs to pay her bills. She canceled Netflix, she said, and she dropped her comprehensive coverage on the Lincoln SUV a few months ago. 

Kristi Blankenship said she was told her stolen vehicle crashed off a 30-foot embankment. The suspect is in custody. (Courtesy Kristi Blankenship)

“I’ve been driving since 1998,” she said. “And two months of that time have I had liability only, and that’s when this happens.” 

Despite the recent hardships, she said her friend had to convince her to let him start a GoFundMe page on her behalf. 

“I was raised with the family owning a business, and you know, my dad (believed) if you need something, you work harder,” she said. “You go work harder. So right now, I’m teaching and going through a divorce and there are a lot of things piled up right now. Typically what I do whenever I need extra money is I do Uber Eats driving, but I can’t do that right now.”

Blankenship laughed dryly as she said that. When asked about her response to the fundraising campaign, she said she was surprised it was bringing her to tears. 

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I grew up in a small town, and I’ve seen a lot of names from that small town that I recognize. Man, I didn’t think I was going to cry at this. But yeah, it’s been really amazing to see people who I haven’t seen in 20 years, they have donated to it. So it’s pretty cool.”

“It was just a nightmare” 

According to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office post and a probable cause affidavit, the man who threatened her at knifepoint is Daryll Lamont Carter, 47. Carter, according to the release, was out on a probation and parole release connected to a first-degree robbery conviction. Court records indicate Carter was sentenced in June of 2002 to 20 years for the conviction and was later found guilty of assaulting a correctional officer in 2004. For that crime, he was ordered to serve five years consecutive to his original sentence.

Carter was charged this week in Greene County Circuit Court with four felony counts connected to the April 14 incident: first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, armed criminal action and resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, creating a substantial risk of serious injury/death to any person.

Blankenship said she encountered the man who attacked her at about 5:30 p.m. on April 14. She’d returned home from shopping at Lowe’s and a grocery store, and was about to start putting away groceries when she noticed something. 

“I saw like a shadow on my front lawn, so I thought one of my neighbors was coming up,” she said. “And then as soon as he got around my vehicle and I could see him, he came all the way into my garage. And he had a knife in his hand and was pointing it at me.”

Daryll L. Carter (Greene County Jail)

She said the man demanded keys and money and told her not to do anything sudden or to call the police. 

“It was just a nightmare,” she said.

A black-handled knife was found in her vehicle by deputies after Carter wrecked it, according to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest. The affidavit states Carter told an investigator after he was arrested that he needed a vehicle and gas money because his life was in danger. An attorney wasn’t listed for Carter as of April 19. 

Blankenship said the experience blindsided her.

“It was totally random,” she said. “I really don’t feel like this is an indication of crime to come.”

Blankenship said after the attacker threatened her, the man fled in her SUV and she called 911 at 5:46 p.m. on April 14. The vehicle was last seen driving south on North Farm Road 127. Sheriff’s deputies and detectives responded to the call and searched the area around Blankenship’s home, according to the sheriff’s office release. Blankenship said she got a call from someone with the sheriff’s office around 2 a.m. on April 15, letting her know the suspect had been apprehended and the vehicle had been located and was no longer drivable.

The affidavit states that a deputy spotted the stolen vehicle driving south on South Campbell near the West Buena Vista intersection at 1:38 a.m. on April 15. The deputy initiated a traffic stop about a half mile later, when the Lincoln was stopped at a red light in the eastbound turn lane at the West Lakewood intersection. Carter then allegedly ran the red, pulled a U-turn, sped northbound on Campbell “in an attempt to flee from the traffic stop,” headed east on East Monastery Street and drove off the roadway, according to the affidavit. The deputy then describes a chaotic path the vehicle took for roughly a mile.

“Carter’s driving was erratic as he was driving on the shoulder of the road, in the opposite lane of travel, and swerving from shoulder to shoulder, with speeds reaching over 70 mph,” the affidavit states. The vehicle collided with a guardrail that runs along a rock cliff near the northwest corner of Twin Oaks Country Club. The guardrail was still damaged Thursday just north of the 17th tee box.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson