Bentley Building Crash Suspect Allegedly Stole Lexus from Moody Used Car Lot

 

By Chris Wangler 
June 30, 2024

 

A homeless man was arraigned Wednesday on more than a dozen charges in connection with a mysterious building crash in early May. 

Authorities allege that Jonathan Sorrels, 40, stole a Lexus SUV from a Moody Street used car lot, then crashed it into a Bentley University administration building before fleeing the scene on foot.

 

On Wednesday, he was arraigned in Waltham District Court via Zoom on 13 charges, including breaking and entering at night, car theft, leaving the scene of a crash, reckless motor vehicle operation and obstruction of justice.

Sorrels managed to elude authorities in the weeks following the crash until he was arrested after allegedly breaking into a vacant Clematis Avenue industrial bay, according to Waltham District Court documents.

 

Also facing charges in Boston, he remains behind bars at Middlesex Jail until his next hearing on July 25.

Mysterious Crash

Around 1:30 a.m. on May 11, Waltham Police and Fire responded to 311 Beaver Street for a report of a car into a building.

Neighbors told police that they heard a vehicle fly down Linden Street at high speed.

 

A WPD officer who reviewed a Ring video estimated the 2013 Lexus RX 450H was traveling “in excess of 60+ mph,” according to court documents. 

Police believe the SUV blew through a stop sign at Linden and Beaver, then struck Harrington House, where Bentley University’s purchasing department is located. 

 

The front of the vehicle incurred major damage.

No one was in the building at the time, and no injuries were reported, authorities said.

The damage required structural supports from Waltham firefighters to prop up the southwest corner of the building.

Bentley declined to comment on the crash or the amount of damage done to the building.

 

Key Clues Left Behind

The mysterious crash left many questions unanswered, including the identity and injury status of the driver.

The Lexus had a VIN, but no registration, no license plates and no insurance, according to court documents.

 

Witnesses interviewed by police saw a man flee the scene, disappearing into woods behind the house.

An extensive search failed to locate anyone, but a Bentley Police officer found a cell phone near the driver’s side door. 

After making an emergency 911 call, investigators linked the phone to Jonathan Sorrels, who they were unable to locate. 

 

An auto dealership license plate, also found on scene, led investigators to Waltham Auto Gallery at 712 Moody Street, where they found a sales office that had been broken into. 

The owner told police four keys to used vehicles had been stolen, including the Lexus, which was the second-most valuable vehicle on the lot at $21,000. 

Further investigation determined that Sorrels had been drinking alone at Franco’s next door on the night of the theft and crash, ordering five beers on a card bearing his name that was declined after he left. 

Although the auto lot’s surveillance cameras turned up nothing, a Franco’s camera captured a male matching Sorrels’ description entering the car lot at 12:59 a.m.

Found Sleeping in a Shipping Container

Jonathan Sorrels was a person of interest in the crash and car theft, but Waltham Police could not find him—until he turned up in an industrial area near the Watertown line a few weeks later.

 

On the morning of May 23, a worker for Antico, which owns buildings at 101 Clematis Avenue, discovered a trespasser cutting up copper wire in a vacant industrial bay.

The worker shouted at the man, later identified as Jonathan Sorrels, and he left with a black bicycle.

 

Responding Waltham Police officers discovered a backpack with Sorrels’ Florida driver’s license, clothing and tools that belonged to Antico.

An alert Waltham Police motorcycle officer discovered him sleeping in a green shipping container behind a nearby Planet Fitness. 

Sorrels was arrested and charged with breaking and entering, trespassing and attempted theft of the tools, according to court documents.

 

He denied any involvement in the vehicle theft or car crash, but police confirmed during an interview that his phone number matched the phone found at the crash scene.

Sorrels was arraigned in Waltham District Court on the breaking and entering charges. Bail was revoked and he was held because he was already facing other charges.

 

Back in December 2023, he was arrested in Boston and charged with indecent assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Motive?

On May 8, Jonathan Sorrels lost a job at an energy company run out of a Lincoln Street apartment building—and he lost a place to stay as well.

Late on May 10, before the car theft and crash, he texted a former coworker interviewed by police that “I’m about to go rob a bank or a store and go back to being my old self.”

 

Court documents noted an out-of-state record from Florida and lack of local ties. 

For Jonas Firmin, who acquired Waltham Auto Gallery back in February, the whole situation has him out a lot of money.

 

He had to pay $900 to rekey the vehicles whose keys were stolen and another $1,200 to recover the Lexus, which was a total loss.

He’s relieved a suspect is in custody, but added that “I thought Waltham was safer than this.”