published Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Four days, 3 chases, 9 arrests in Jackson County

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- It took four days, three high-speed pursuits and an attic search, but Jackson County, Ala., authorities have arrested a man wanted on multiple burglary and other warrants.

Johnny Lewis Payne, 38, of Bridgeport, Ala., was hiding in an air-conditioner duct at his parents' home in Stevenson, Ala., when authorities caught up with him Friday, according to a news release.

Before Payne was nabbed, though, eight other people who allegedly helped him avoid arrest were taken into custody on a laundry list of charges, from eluding police to possession of methamphetamine, according to Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

Harnen said a Bridgeport police officer saw Payne on Monday, lying in a ditch near a railroad track with a pair of bolt cutters, a ski mask, a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle that later was determined to be stolen, and three types of pills.

Payne wasn't arrested then, but a Jackson County investigator obtained warrants and officers began looking for him, Harnen said.

On Tuesday, a deputy saw Payne driving the Polaris Ranger in Bridgeport and tried to stop him, but Payne got away. Deputies later found the utility vehicle, freshly painted white, parked in a Bridgeport yard, Harnen said.

On Thursday, Payne snaked his way out of three high-speed pursuits involving the sheriff's office, Bridgeport Police Department and Alabama state troopers by ditching his vehicle and running, Harnen said.

The first time, a county investigator and the Bridgeport police chief went to a house off County Road 255, only to see two vehicles speed away. They chased Payne, who was in a Chevy Blazer, until he crashed the vehicle and ran.

They followed the other car, a Kia Sportage, through a field before stopping it and arresting Payne's son, Johnathan Nicholas Payne, 18, for attempting to elude and on an outstanding warrant for failure to pay.

A passenger, Aaron Blake Miles, 21, of Bridgeport, also was arrested on outstanding warrants for failure to pay. He was carrying methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and was charged for those offenses as well, Harnen said.

A few hours later, Johnny Payne was spotted in Bridgeport driving a blue Ford Taurus.

Again, he crashed the car and escaped into the woods. Another unidentified man also got away, but Colby Ryan Purdy, 19, of Stevenson, and Nathan Joseph Austin, 30, of Henagar, Ala., were arrested and charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.

It was still Thursday when a GMC Envoy carrying Payne refused to stop for an Alabama state trooper checkpoint on County Road 58.

The Envoy nearly hit a state trooper and another pursuit got started, Harnen said. Troopers didn't stop the car that night, but Friday morning they arrested driver Hollie Linn Hale, 40, at a Bridgeport house. She is to be charged with reckless endangerment, attempting to elude and switching a tag, Harnen said.

Finally on Friday, a Stevenson police officer spotted Payne on the porch of his parents' house. He fled inside as officers surrounded the place, and was finally tracked to an air-conditioning duct in the attic, Harnen said.

Patricia Kay Payne, 60, of Stevenson, was charged with resisting arrest.

David Lee Payne, 39, and Terra LeAnn Payne, 28, also of Stevenson, were charged with hindering prosecution.

Nathan Joseph Austin, 30, of Henagar, who already had been arrested on Thursday, was charged with resisting arrest, Harnen said.

Payne is charged with three counts of possession of controlled substances, receiving stolen property first-degree, possession of burglary tools and criminal mischief first-degree.

Harnen said Payne is a suspect in numerous thefts reported in the Bridgeport and Stevenson areas. No bond has been set.

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