Stolen pickup suspect eludes authorities here

Brashear residents join officers in Sunday evening manhunt

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

August 25, 2008 - Authorities called off the hunt for an East Texas man and woman early this morning after a suspect in a Longview truck theft fled officers across pastures and barbed wire fences.

The five-hour search for Michael David Mason Jr., 28, of Kilgore and a Tyler woman, Megan Allise Henderson, 22, was called off just before 1 a.m. after authorities from five law enforcement agencies using dogs and a helicopter -- and joined by Brashear residents -- had scoured the backroads and fields around Brashear.

Hopkins County Chief Deputy Sheriff Rickey Morgan said today that Mason was a suspect in the theft of a pickup in the Longview area on Sunday. The truck was reportedly stolen after a someone was assaulted with a deadly weapon, Morgan said.

At about 5:30 p.m., Morgan said, the pickup ended up getting gasoline in Cumby. Something about the truck or the people in it -- "They had a wad of money or something," Morgan said -- aroused the suspicions of a store clerk in Cumby, who then contacted police in that town.

The pickup was leaving as Charlie Herford, a Cumby policeman, arrived at the scene. He began to tail the truck east on Interstate 30 after the store clerk pointed the vehicle out, Morgan said.

A check of the license plate number revealed the pickup had been stolen in Gregg County, but Herford held back, not wanting to stop the vehicle until backup help arrived.

"The pickup exited in Brashear, and Charlie exited behind them," Morgan said. "They got on [U.S. Highway] 67 and then turned on one of the county roads, and Charlie pulled in behind them."

At that point, the pickup pulled into the driveway of a residence.

"Charlie didn't have much choice -- he turned the lights on," Morgan said. "Once he got out, they left and drove right straight down the driveway, through a barbed wire fence, out into the pasture, and went through about four more barbed wire fences way out in the pasture."

Backup help finally arrived, but officers lost track of the truck for about four minutes. When they found it, it had hit a low spot in a pasture, ripping out the bottom of the pickup.

"When they found the vehicle, both doors were open, and they were gone," Morgan said.

Tracking dogs from Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a helicopter from the Texas Department of Public Safety in Waco were called in, along with Hopkins County sheriff's deputies, Sulphur Springs police and other state troopers from the local office.

"A lot of the Brashear residents were combing the roads, too," Morgan said. They were loaded up and ready to go. It was something."

They manhunt lasted for several hours.

"They searched for two or three hours but couldn't find anything, so we terminated the search and left, and we ain't found 'em yet," he said.

Mason is described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing about 210 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, no shirt, and a white cap.

Henderson is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing 135 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone who has any information about the pair or may have seen them can call the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office at 903-438-4040, although Morgan said they may have already left the area.

"I imagine they laid low until everybody left and then got on a cell phone and called someone to come pick them up," he said.

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