Indiana fugitive captured in Bledsoe County

Indiana fugitive captured in Bledsoe County

July 24th, 2017 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

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An Indiana man who was the subject of a five-day manhunt in Bledsoe County over the last week was captured south of Pikeville, Tenn., on Sunday.

Samual Cravens, 38, had been on the run in Pikeville since July 18 when he fled from a car and hid out in the countryside, Bledsoe County Sheriff Jimmy Morris said. Cravens was being sought on three felony warrants issued on Indiana charges of child molestation.

The search for Cravens came to an end around 8 a.m. CDT Sunday near a now-closed business south of Pikeville called the Motorcycle Ranch, the sheriff said.

"Sgt. George Hodge got him picked up this morning down by the Motorcycle Ranch probably five miles out of town here this morning," Morris said Sunday.

Morris said authorities in Bledsoe County had help from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Rhea County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Marshals Service.

"We really do appreciate them helping us get this fugitive brought in," Morris said.

Hodge made the arrest, he said.

Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor said Cravens is being held in the Bledsoe County Jail, awaiting extradition.

According to authorities in Fortville, Ind., Cravens is wanted there on three felony warrants charging him with child molestation — two counts linked to an incident in Fortville and another to an incident in outlying Hancock County.

Cravens is accused of forcing a teen girl to have sex with him, according to The Daily Reporter newspaper in Greenfield, Ind.

The alleged victim came forward July 13 after the assault took place, the newspaper reported. Authorities said they spoke with Cravens briefly that day, asking him to come to the Fortville Police Department to speak with detectives.

Cravens never showed up, and on July 14, authorities in Indiana filed criminal charges against him. Police went to Cravens' place of work but were told he "abruptly left the job site" and was last seen walking toward a nearby wooded area, the newspaper reported.

Bledsoe County officials said in a statement on the arrest that Cravens was taken into custody after investigators got a tip he'd been spotted on U.S. Highway 127.

Officials said Sgt. Hodge encountered Cravens just north of College Station Mountain Road. The area where Cravens was spotted is a patchwork of farms and pasture land.

Hodge asked the man he found there to identify himself, and Cravens reportedly gave his name as he handed over his identification.

Morris said his staff and others had "put in long hours" in the July heat as Cravens eluded searchers for five days.

In addition to law enforcement agencies that had a hand in the search, Bledsoe officials also thanked local residents for helping.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.