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Woman accused of taking car, dog turns self in
Charged with theft while clad only in a towel
Deborah Louise Whitehead
Deborah Louise Whitehead

The towel-clad Gainesville woman who was accused of stealing a man’s car and dog has turned herself in to authorities.

Deborah Louise Whitehead, 47, was charged Thursday, June 28, with two counts of theft by taking, one being a felony. She was also charged with second-degree burglary.

Matt Sanders, of Flowery Branch, left his Hyundai Elantra running June 17 for a brief moment to retrieve his cellphone from his house. He was preparing to go with his Pomeranian, Bear, to a Canton nursing home to see his dad for Father’s Day.

When he returned, Sanders claimed he saw Whitehead wearing only a towel in the driver’s seat.

Pleading with her to let the dog out, Sanders watched as the woman drove through the yard toward Union Church Road in the Chestnut Mountain area of Hall County.

“I’d be lying if I said I thought we’d get him back. I thought I’d seen him for the last time,” he told The Times June 18.

Around 3 a.m. Monday, June 18, Braselton Police Chief Terry Esco said they received a 911 call about a woman complaining about heart problems at the Best Western Braselton Inn on Zion Church Road. Officers found Bear unharmed in the hotel room bathroom.

Esco said they ran the tags on the car outside, discovering it was stolen out of Hall County.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said investigators discovered a house burglary at an unoccupied home around the time of the dog-napping.

“The investigation revealed that prior to the car and dog theft, Whitehead had parked her own car in the garage/carport of the house in the 4400 block of Union Church Road. She entered the home by breaking a window and left the house on foot, eventually stealing the Hyundai on Union Place,” Booth said.

Investigators believe the burglary happened late on June 16 or early the following day.

“There are no ties between Whitehead and any of the victims. The motive in the crimes is unknown,” Booth said.

Whitehead was booked Thursday, June 28, in to the Hall County Jail, where she is being held on an $18,000 bond.

Booth did not answer a question about why Whitehead was only wearing a towel.

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Matt Sanders and his Pomeranian, Bear, are seen safely at home on Monday, June 18, 2018, after Bear and Sanders’ vehicle were stolen from his home near Flowery Branch. Bear was missing most of Sunday but was recovered by law enforcement.