Less than a week after our history lesson on the highly controversial “Wild Cherry” Chevy van restoration, rumors swirling around the interweb and various social media platforms have proven to be accurate. Chris Carter, the man behind the wheel of the van and its “salvation,” has been arrested by authorities on felony theft charges, and no, it was not by California police.
What began with a van catching a young man’s eye in the 1979 cult classic, Van Nuys Blvd., has spiraled into a sordid tale of neglect, online snooping, trespassing, and theft, all done for the sake of saving a dilapidated automobile. But while Chris Carter is now being held accountable for his actions by the authorities, the Wild Cherry van itself remains unaccounted for, further thickening the already convoluted plot.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, which has been following this story closely since its inception well over a year ago, reports show that Carter was arrested on October 3rd at a courthouse in his home state of Illinois, when he appeared for a divorce hearing. According to Capt. Mike Dixon of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, the 39 year-old will more than likely be extradited to California, where the charges against him were first filed.
Although a Madison County judge denied Carter bond at first, a second judge took pity on the van enthusiast the next day, setting Carter’s bond at $25,000. After coughing-up some serious dough, Carter was released from jail that Friday afternoon, much to the dismay of the woman pressing charges against him, Laura Godin, who reportedly is the van’s rightful owner.
Godin, who resides in Burbank, California, claims Carter illegally came onto their rural mountain property without permission and took the van without their knowing. Although the Godin family had clearly neglected to maintain the iconic cult automobile after parking it at their farm decades ago, its removal and rightful ownership remain the core of contention.
According to this most recent report, charges against Carter include “two felony counts of driving or taking a vehicle without consent and one misdemeanor count of trespass by driving on private property.” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, says that if convicted on all three charges, the man who “saved” the Wild Cherry van could now face up to a maximum of four years and two months in prison.
So with Carter out on bond, members of the vanning community both praising and ridiculing him on social media, and the van nowhere to be seen, we get the feeling that this isn’t the last you are going to hear about Chris Carter and the highly coveted Wild Cherry Chevy panel van.
Oh, and what about Carter’s wife, Wendy, who was planning on finalizing their divorce that fateful day, when authorities unexpectedly clapped irons on her estranged significant other – further exacerbating the situation? Clearly frustrated over the entire fiasco, Wendy tells the Belleville News-Democrat,“He’s going to be locked up for a while. I was like, ‘Dude, can’t you just sign the papers first?’ I just want out of this.”