Suspect flees as officers find marijuana in rental car
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 6, 2004 -- Police are searching for what is belived to be a 27-year-old man from Illinois who practically vanished when officers began inspecting the back seat of his car for drugs early Wednesday.

"We think we have him identified," Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk said later Wednesday morning. "After they are finished processing the evidence and paper work, we will likely get a warrant for his arrest. It looks like he's going to be an Illinois resident."

Sulphur Springs Police Sgt. Cleve "Buddy" Williams stopped a 2004 Chevrolet Impala just after 3 a.m. Wednesday at the 120 mile marker on Interstate 30 for a traffic violation. SSPD Cpl. Jason Ricketson arrived with his canine partner, Sony, to assist Williams. Upon contact with the driver, the only occupant of the vehicle, Williams was granted permission to search the car.

The officers had the man stand behind his vehicle while they conducted the search. They reached into the trunk to grab a bulge in the wall between the trunk and backseat that turned out to be two bricks and three large freezer bags of marijuana, which weighed a total of 15 pounds. When the officers turned around, they found the suspect to have fled while they were reaching into the car.

Sony began tracking the suspect along with the officers, but the dog soon lost the man's scent and was unable to track him further. Hopkins County Sheriff's Deputy Jim White, Cpl. Todd Evans, Sgt. Lewis Tatum and Reserve Deputy Paul Fenimore responded to Williams' call for assistance in setting up and conducting a search around the perimeter of the area, according to sheriff's reports.

The officers utilized a hand-held thermal imager and night vision equipment. While officers were unable to locate the man, police are following up on clues to the man's identity.

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