TOPEKA (KSNT) – With a Topeka woman facing multiple charges from five different arrests over five months, KSNT News dug into how she has walked free with each visit to jail.
Jessica Dawn Riley-Perkins, 27, has been accused of a string of crimes including breaking into and stealing various cars, according to police and various court and jail records. In a Dec. 10 case, a Kansas family said Riley-Perkins also stole a $17,000 insulin pump, which left a teen hospitalized without it. In a Jan. 6 incident, a waitress said she had to search for Riley-Perkins and then hold her at a Topeka gas station after she stole the waitress’s car.
“I gave her a choice,” said Hanover Pancake House Waitress Sherri Calderwood. “I said, ‘Sit your butt down in the back seat of my car and wait for the cops to get here. You’re going to jail…’ That’s not what she wanted to do.”
The following is a timeline that details what Riley-Perkins is accused of with each arrest, and how she got out of jail each time.
Despite five arrests, Riley-Perkins was able to walk free again four times, either without paying any bond or by enlisting help from bail bonds companies, according to the Shawnee County Jail. To find out how Riley-Perkins kept getting out of jail, KSNT News spoke with Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay. Kagay could not discuss specifics about Riley-Perkins’s situation, but did explain an automated system that often handles cases like hers.
“The bond is automatically set,” Kagay said. “A judge does not look at that particular arrest, that offense, and make that determination. That just happens as a matter of course.”
Known as an automatic bond schedule, the system uses a grid to assign a dollar value for the bond in each case, which suspects need to pay to get out of jail. This system typically handles lower-level crimes – the most severe being level 8 felonies – like the ones Riley-Perkins has been accused of, and factors like criminal history and flight risk aren’t considered until they appear before a judge.
For Riley-Perkins’s situation specifically, records showed in four court cases pending from her recent arrests, she’s facing 11 charges that fall under the automatic bond schedule:
- Five misdemeanors, some of which include possessing drug paraphernalia and theft under $1,500.
- Four level 9 felonies, some of which include car burglaries, resisting a law enforcement officer and theft between $1,500 and $25,000 in value.
- Two level 8 felonies, one of those being a forgery charge.
According to the Shawnee County Court website, Riley-Perkins finally saw charges outside the automatic bond schedule with her fifth arrest and fourth court case filed:
- Two level 7 felonies: theft between $25,000 and $100,000 in value, and possession of stolen property between $25,000 and $100,000 in value.
Kagay also weighed in on how common these revolving door situations in the criminal justice system can be.
“My answer is it depends,” Kagay said. “It depends on what did they do? What’s the allegation? If it’s something low-level that falls within the automatic bond schedule. It might, you know, they might be processed a few different times before something occurs.”
For the time being, however, Shawnee County Jail Deputy Director Tim Phelps said the revolving door has closed for Riley-Perkins.
“As happens fairly often, those folks who wrote bonds for her on the older cases realize that they need to remove themselves from the risk of bond forfeiture, so they ‘turned her in’ on the cases she was bonded on,” Phelps said. “Due to the cases the bonds folks turned her in on, she has no ability to bond out. Once that case gets a bond, then she will technically have the ability to bond out again.”
Riley-Perkins could also face jail time from another Kansas county. She was previously accused of stealing 19-year-old Tylynn Cross’s car, which also contained her $17,000 insulin pump, from a Lawrence Home Depot parking lot. Topeka police later arrested Riley-Perkins on Dec. 22 in a separate car theft case. They said they then booked her on an additional charge of criminal use of a financial card when they tied her to using Cross’s stolen debit card at Fat Shack.
However, since the Home Depot car theft happened outside TPD and the Shawnee Count District Attorney’s jurisdiction, no charges were filed related to that or Cross’s insulin pump being stolen. In Riley-Perkins’s four court cases pending, records also show the Shawnee County District Attorney ultimately did not formally file the charge of criminal use of a financial card either.
“It’s great that they caught the lady, but we’re not going to get that insulin pump back,” said Tylynn’s mother, Casey Cross.
Her family said police were never able to recover the pump from the stolen car. Without the machine she needed to treat her diabetes, Cross later ended up in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
The Shawnee County Jail later confirmed in February that Riley-Perkins also had an arrest warrant from Douglas County, where she was accused of stealing Cross’s car and insulin pump. However, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office could not confirm to KSNT News as of Sunday if its charges against Riley-Perkins were related to that Home Depot carjacking.