A judge Tuesday called Mallory Lusk’s actions “bizarre,” but Lusk’s stepmother said she knows the cause.

Lusk, 27, may have believed someone was trying to find and kill her Monday night when she allegedly stole a pickup truck with an infant inside and sped several blocks the wrong way down a street as a man, trying to stop her, clung to its hood.

She had surprised the man, and his girlfriend who had driven to the State Street home he’s renovating, when she climbed from a dumpster filled with construction refuse into the vehicle parked in the driveway, police said.

Lusk caused no serious injuries before she stopped the truck and fled to a nearby gas station.

Screaming, “I need help,” Lusk locked herself in the station’s restroom but came out after police arrived, a police spokesman said.

“I kind of want to stay, a little bit,” in jail, she told a judge when she was charged with possessing a stolen vehicle.

“She wants to dry out” from mind-warping drugs, her stepmother, Melody Lusk, said after the court hearing.

Lusk, of 1229 Summer St., likely was under the influence of “bath salts,” a street name for synthetic, illegal drugs that can produce paranoia and hallucinations, Melody Lusk said.

“Oh, it’s awful,” she said. In recent weeks, Mallory has been “off the wall” with irrational fears and behavior that required hospital care, the stepmother said.

Mallory may have been hiding from imagined pursuers in the dumpster, filled with nail-laden boards, outside 327 State, Melody Lusk said.

She jumped out at about 6:40 p.m. when the woman, identified as Darlene Schultz, arrived at the house to pick up her boyfriend, identified as Austin Lasley.

Schultz left her 1-year-old son in the pickup for her expected brief stop. When Lusk jumped into the vehicle, Schultz ran back to it and demanded she get out, said Pekin Police Public Information Officer Mike Eeten.

Instead, Lusk backed out of the short driveway and drove backwards about 20 yards to Capitol Street, knocking Schultz to the ground as she turned, Eeten said.

Lasley, 22, jumped onto the truck’s hood as Lusk backed from the driveway, Eeten said, and held on as Lusk reached Capitol and drove at what witnesses called a high rate of speed south down the one-lane, north-bound street.

After three blocks, Lusk stopped and ran to the Circle K gas station at 111 N. Capitol St., leaving Lasley and the baby uninjured, Eeten said.

“She has a history” with police, he said. “We’ve had dealings with her before.”

In addition to vehicle theft, Lusk was charged with DUI — “Which would explain this bizarre set of circumstances,” said bonding court Judge Paul Gilfillan — and several other traffic violations.

He ordered her held on $15,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing April 23.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin