John Hofstetter's mugshot
John Hofstetter (Booking photo by Greene County Sheriff's Office)

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A Bolivar man admitted to leaving the scene of a 2022 fatal accident and was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday, June 14.

John E. Hofstetter, 45, pleaded guilty to the class E felony of leaving the scene of an accident and the class D felony of involuntary manslaughter.

Greene County Circuit Judge Jerry Harmison sentenced Hofstetter to four years in a Missouri Department of Corrections prison for each of the two counts, but ordered those sentences to be served concurrently.

The hit-and-run vehicle-pedestrian crash happened around 5:30 a.m. on April 26, 2022 at the intersection of Kansas Expressway and Division Street.

The victim, 59-year-old Jerry Westmoreland, died soon after the crash at a Springfield hospital.

A Springfield Police Department investigation indicated Westmoreland was walking across Kansas Expressway and stopped on the raised median in the middle of the intersection. As Westmoreland waited to cross, a silver SUV heading northbound drove onto the median and struck Westmoreland. 

Westmoreland was taken to a Springfield hospital, where he died. 

The driver of the SUV, eventually identified as Hofstetter, fled the scene after the collision and headed west on Division Street. Hofstetter was arrested with cooperation from the Bolivar Police Department.

According to friends and family who left messages on his online obituary, Westmoreland — often called “Hooker” by those close to him — loved motorcycles and music.

Witnesses, co-workers help crack case

According to online court documents, someone who witnessed the hit-and-run told police they saw the silver SUV fleeing west on Hovey Street. That witness drove to the next street, Lynn Street, and began driving westbound to try to catch up with the SUV. The witness told police they watched the SUV pull into a gas station and watched the driver of the SUV get out and inspect the damage to the SUV.

The witness said they told the driver of the SUV — Hofstetter — that he needed to return to the scene of the crash, a police officer wrote in the report, but the driver got back into the SUV and drove away. 

The witness also noted the SUV’s license plate number. When investigators searched the license plate number in a database, it was connected to a 2013 Lincoln MKX that had been involved in a stealing report. Hofstetter was the suspect in that stealing incident, the officer wrote.

Co-worker connected driver to accident

Later that same day of the accident, an employee from Tracker Marine in Bolivar called the Springfield Police Department because they heard about the fatality crash on the news and that the suspect was driving a silver SUV.

The employee called police to report that Hofstetter, who worked at Tracker Marine, called in late to work because he had been involved in an accident. When Hofstetter finally made it to work that morning, the employee who saw the news report went to the parking lot and saw that Hofstetter’s vehicle was damaged.

Police also used surveillance video footage from a business near the scene of the crash and from the Gilbert Mobile Service at 2341 W. Division in their investigation. The footage corroborated the witness’ statement about Hofstetter pulling the SUV into the parking lot and getting out to inspect the damage.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Hauxeda. She covers public safety, the courts, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald