Authorities find fugitive under house after two-day manhunt

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — At approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, a manhunt for a Dodge County fugitive ended when he was captured in the Silver Hills subdivision farther north of where the search had been focused since Monday morning. Authorities conducting a house to house sweep found the fugitive underneath a house in the 200 block of Tulip Drive.
On Tuesday morning, authorities were still involved in the lengthy, wet and intensive manhunt in northern Sumter County, in the area of Lakeshore Drive, Statham Lake and U.S. Highway 19 North. The search had become soggier as a tropical depression had settled over this part of the state and rain was expected to continue over the next couple of days.
Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith told the Times-Recorder mid-day Tuesday they had dogs on the ground trying to rout the fugitive, wanted on several felony warrants from the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office. An aerial search also continued. The man was identified as Christopher Yawn, 39, of Dodge County.
The suspect is wanted on several felony warrants and was said to be armed. He will now face charges of burglary in Sumter County.
Smith said Yawn had stolen a pickup truck and wrecked it in Marion County sometime Sunday night. On Monday, he was in Sumter County, having broken into a home on Lakeshore Drive where he stole some screwdrivers and a pair of socks. Those items were found in nearby woods by authorities.
As of early afternoon Tuesday, searchers from the sheriff’s office, Americus Police Department, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia State Patrol Task Force, Schley County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Department of Corrections were soaked due to rainfall, and weary, but still continuing the search.
The sheriff told the Times-Recorder that Yawn had been spotted a couple of times Tuesday morning “but we couldn’t get close enough to pin him down.” He said the fugitive broke into a home in the area of Lakeshore Drive and stole frozen dinners and hot-dogs from a freezer in a utility house. While there, he ate his food and dried his clothes. The sheriff said Yawn had also hot-wired a four-wheeler at that location and driven it to a vacant house on Lakewood Drive on Statham Lake where he apparently spent the night and stole some clothing. Authorities discovered the four-wheeler abandoned in the woods behind the vacant house on Tuesday.
The suspect was described as a white male wearing shorts, camo jacket or shirt, a hat and baseball or golf shoes.
Maj. Ralph Stuart, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator, told the Times-Recorder that Yawn had lived in Sumter County for a brief period in early 2001 and 2002, and is wanted in Dodge County for a variety of crimes ranging from theft, burglary and drugs. Stuart also said Yawn is a suspect in a theft ring in the Schley-Sumter-Marion-Webster county area. He said the ring has stolen ATVs, UTVs and trailers from these counties.
Upon Yawn’s capture, the sheriff said, “He was cold and wet and hungry.” Yawn was taken into custody to the Sumter County Jail.