Deputies: Hitchhiker accused of stealing car from man paying him for sex

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CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- Deputies with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man accused of test driving a car and not bringing it back, but that’s only half the story.

Deputies say on April 29, 71-year old Ronnie Helton picked up a hitchhiker in his Chevrolet Malibu along I-75 in Laurel County.  Investigators say the hitchhiker was 26-year old Michael Paul Collins.

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Investigators say Helton offered Collins money to have sex and they say Collins agreed.  Deputies say Helton drove to Crawfish Road, got out of his car and began to undress.  They say that’s when Collins took off in Helton’s car.

The car was later recovered on North Highway 421 when deputies say Collins met a Jackson County man at Fall Rock Dollar Store to possibly trade cars. Collins reportedly got inside the man’s 2002 Mercury Cougar, took it for a test drive and never came back.

Clay County investigators say on May 1, around 2:00 a.m., deputies received a report of a suspicious car on Stacy Branch Road. When deputies arrived, they say they determined it was the 2002 Mercury Cougar.

An anonymous tip led them to a home on Williamstown Road where they say Collins tried to run out of the back of the house, then back inside, where deputies arrested him.

They say in addition to theft and fleeing or evading police on foot charges, Collins also had an active arrest warrant in Clay County on separate charges.

He was taken to the Clay County Detention Center.

As for Ronnie Helton, he was charged with solicitation, according to deputies.