By Cody Thompson
CROCKETT – A manhunt was conducted by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and the Crockett Police Department after four juveniles from the child advocacy center, Serenity Place, in Crockett escaped on Thursday, May 4.
The HCSO issued a warning to citizens of Houston County that if they were to see the juveniles that they should not make contact with them, Houston County constable Morris Luker told the Messenger on Thursday.
“One of our biggest concerns is that they would try to hitch a ride with someone to get away,” Luker said. “We wanted to get the word out as soon as possible to let people know.”
Officers combed the woods and back roads near the state school in an attempt to find the missing juveniles, according to Luker.
“We had a lot of manpower invested in finding these kids,” Luker said. “We were just hoping that they hadn’t gone too far from the school.”
After searching the woods and back roads near the state school, the juveniles were eventually discovered by Luker and Houston County Constable of precinct two, Kenneth “Red” Smith.
“I was driving my patrol vehicle down Highway 21 when I just happened to look up and see four kids walking west down the side of the road,” Luker said.
After discovering the juveniles, Luker turned on the patrol unit’s overhead lights and pulled up behind them, according to Luker.
“It’s kind of funny actually, we’d been searching all through the woods for them and (Smith) and I just happened to find them walking down the road,” Luker said. “We were actually on our way to look for them at another location when we found them.”
The juveniles were discovered near the old Crockett auction barn off U.S. 21. The juveniles were in good health and only had some light scratches on their legs, Luker said.
“A couple of them had skinned up their legs a little bit,” Luker said. “Probably from running through the brush in the woods.”
The juveniles were detained by Luker and Smith until deputies from the HCSO arrived on the scene, according to Luker.
HCSO deputies conducted a search of the juveniles before placing them in patrol units and transporting them back to Serenity Place.
“We’re really lucky that we found them as fast as we did and that no one was injured,” HCSO Sergeant Roy May told the Messenger. “Things could have ended up a lot worse.”
Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.