Manhunt ends in arrest

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A large scale manhunt through the woods along Highway 80 West late Tuesday night ended with the arrest of a Dallas County man accused of robbing a Demopolis ABC Store.

Jerry Jerome Blakes, 33, was taken into custody shortly after midnight about 15 miles outside of Selma on Highway 80, according to a report from the Demopolis Times.

The manhunt began after Blakes allegedly entered the ABC Store, located at 1313 U.S. Highway 80 East, armed with a gun and demanded money.

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The suspect then fled the scene in a red Dodge van with Pascagoula, Miss. plates, according to police.

Demopolis Police Chief Jeff Manuel told the Demopolis Times that the description of the suspect and the vehicle helped officers make the arrest.

“The description was very helpful,” Manuel said. “I can’t stress how important that was. The clerk did an excellent job and I would like to publicly commend her for that.”

Officers from Demopolis and the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department located the suspect’s vehicle near Uniontown, but Blakes refused to yield and led police on a high-speed chase.

Blakes continued the chase until he crashed the van into a ditch in the front yard of catfish farm manager Mike Owens.

Owens said his wife and daughter went to the scene of the crash and spotted the suspect leaving the vehicle and flee into the woods.

“Thank God he (the suspect) didn’t run into my house,” Owens said.

Within minutes, law enforcement converged onto the area and set up a perimeter.

Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including the Alabama State Troopers and the Tuscaloosa Police Department, who provided helicopters for the search.

Tracking dogs from the Alabama Department of Corrections were also used during the manhunt.

State Trooper John Reese, public information officer, said law enforcement searched the woods along the highway for several hours, finally arresting the suspect around 12:30 a.m.

An undisclosed amount of money and a handgun were also recovered from the scene, according to the Demopolis Times.

Reese said the suspect is currently being held in the Marengo County Jail. No bond has been set as of press time.

“He is not being cooperative with investigators at this time,” Reese said. “He wouldn’t even give them his name. They were calling him John Doe (after the suspect’s arrest).”

Blakes currently faces charges of robbery, first degree and receiving stolen property, first degree. The vehicle he was driving was discovered stolen from Pascagoula, Miss. in April.

-The Demopolis Times contributed to this report.