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Orienteering seeks area interest boost

As the North Texas Orienteering Association prepares for a pair of events in March at Cooper Lake State Park, club leadership hopes to get more area residents interested in an activity the group’s president calls inexpensive, fun and easy to do.

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Fugitive captured in Birthright after 24 hours

Female companion also jailed

 

Almost 24 hours after he ran from a traffic stop on FM 71 about two miles west of Sulphur Bluff, 35-year-old John Samuel Maxwell was apprehended by Hopkins County sheriff's deputies in Birthright.

A deputy had stopped Maxwell just before 8 a.m. Tuesday because the trailer he was pulling had no tail lights.

The man, when asked for identification, told the deputy he did not have any with him. While the deputy was asking a female passenger for identification, Maxwell took off running into a brushy wooded area.

Additional sheriff's officers arrived and immediately established a perimeter around the area they suspected Maxwell to be in.

When questioned by deputies, the female passenger in the vehicle — identified as Tara Diann Slough, 40, of Talco — initially gave the name of a man who was in prison in Winnsboro. Officers then learned that John Samuel Maxwell was the fleeing felon.

As the search got underway Tuesday morning, a helicopter from the Texas Department of Public Safety was called to the area and searched the woods using infrared cameras without success.

Tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were brought to the scene, along with Hopkins County Sheriff's Office canines.

The intense search was called off Tuesday afternoon but deputies remained in the area.

Sheriff's officers received a tip about the wanted man from the area of FM 69 and FM 900, according to HCSO Lt. Tanner Crump.

“We got two calls at the intersection of FM 69 and 900 about a person matching the description who was asking for directions and gave a phone number to call his wife,” Crump said. “Officers were in the area and got positive information from the person at the home to make sure it was the person we were looking for.”

Officers then set up a new command center in the area and the search again shifted into high gear as members of Hopkins County Sheriff's Posse were called to the scene with several officers in the area around the intersection of the FM 69 and FM 900.

Crump said the DPS helicopter and tracking dogs did not respond to the area.

“We didn't have a confirmed 'he went that direction' sighting,” he said.

Officers on the ground searched for more than an hour and patrol officers stayed in the area after midnight.

The break in the chase came this morning when Maxwell approached an elderly man and asked for a ride to Birthright.

“The elderly man's wife called — the man knew who he was giving a ride to and his wife knew who he was giving a ride to — the sheriff's office and said 'My husband is giving this guy a ride to Birthright,'” Crump said. “All my guys went up there and [Inv. Sgt. Corley] Weatherford spotted the vehicle turning south onto State Highway 19. He initiated a traffic stop and Maxwell took off on foot behind a building.”

The manager at the convenience store in Birthright helped out by spotting the fugitive behind a plumbing business.

“The suspect reached into the back of a vehicle and grabbed a bumper jack and started beating himself in the head with it — he was trying to kill himself with that jack once he knew he was cornered,” Crump said. “Deputies were able to Tase him and take him into custody.”

Just before noon Wednesday, Maxwell was still being held in a violence cell at Hopkins County Law Enforcement Center.

Deputies learned Maxwell was wanted by Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for a parole violation. He also faces two charges of evading arrest or detection, criminal mischief and a Lamar County warrant for criminal trespass.

Tara Diann Slough was arrested for hindering the apprehension or prosecution of a known felon. Her bond was set at $50,000 on the charge.

A young boy who was also in the vehicle was taken to the law enforcement center to await a family member to come pick him up.

State Parks Centennial ideas being addressed at Cooper Lake

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as it gears up for its centennial in 2023, is primarily focused on major maintenance needs at its parks. However, the Texas State Parks Centennial Plan that it recently released mentioned other goals for the state’s 74 parks, 13 historic sites and eight natural areas. 

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Community Chest hits the road with help for needy

Hopkins County Community Chest is going mobile and Executive Director Judy Moore wants to get the word out to possible clients. 

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Manhunt underway near Sulphur Bluff

A traffic stop on FM 71 about two miles west of Sulphur Bluff turned into a manhunt just after 8 a.m. today.

The driver of a vehicle stopped by Hopkins County sheriff’s deputies jumped from his vehicle and fled on foot into a wooded area.

Deputies identified the man as a John Maxwell, possibly from the Talco area.

As the search for Maxwell intensified around mid-morning, deputies brought the department's tracking dogs into the area, along with canine units from Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a Department of Public Safety helicopter.

At noon today deputies from several counties were joining in the search.

Officials did not give a reason for the initial traffic stop or detail his criminal history other than Maxwell is wanted for a parole violation and deputies consider the man to be armed and dangerous.

There was also no information available about a person arrested this morning in connection with the incident.

The Sulphur Bluff Independent School District campus, some three miles from where the man fled into the woods, was placed on lockdown by school officials.

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