The search continues

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hale County Sheriff Larry Johnson was diverted from an investigation Thursday of an escaped prisoner by a strange sighting on Highway 25.

Johnson received the report Thursday morning of a jail trustee who had escaped in a Tuscaloosa Police patrol car. The trustee’s parents live in Hale County so Johnson was on his way to investigate traveling on Highway 69 North.

He then received an odd report en route at approximately 10:45 a.m. from dispatch. “A woman called in and said there is a human leg with a foot still attached to it,” he said. The so-called remains were located at the intersection of Highway 25 and County Road 10.

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Johnson and a deputy were the only officers from his department available, and the deputy was in court at the time. The sheriff turned around and headed south. The deputy joined him en route.

What they found was a pair of camouflage chest waders used in nearby catfish ponds. “Somebody had poured some fish guts in it, and it was stinking,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of flies around it. That’s all it was.

“They just saw the waiters there, and they thought somebody’s leg was in there.

“It was smelling pretty bad, but it was just the fish guts.

“I was trying to figure out all the way down there what I was going to do” if it had turned out to be part of a human leg,” the sheriff.

Meanwhile, officials have not apprehended the jail trustee in the Tuscaloosa Police patrol car. Johnson called his parents. “I don’t feel like he will go there,” he said, “because he doesn’t spend a lot of time at home.” There are no clothes there or any ties at all to the parents’ home. “He’s got ties in a couple of other states.”

There was no weapon in the patrol car at the time it was stolen, Johnson said.