I suspect that there may be more to the story. John had been in trouble with the law before.
The car belonged to John's brother-in-law William K. Wells. I am still trying to determine how the two men were connected. John's older sister was married to Downie Campbell Pate. His other sister Anna was married to Frank Joseph Smith at that time. In 1920, John was enumerated in the United States census with his apparent wife Ermer, but her age was given as 21. He had at least two subsequent marriages. On his World War I draft registration card, John stated that he was single. William K. Wells' sister could be an unidentified wife.
Indianapolis Star, 3 October 1914, page 4