Manhunt leads to arrest

Published 11:02 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Huxford man led deputies and investigators with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on a nearly nine-hour manhunt earlier this week while his accomplice spent the night in the hospital following a head-on vehicle crash.

According to Lt. Adam Johnson, dispatchers with the ECSO received a burglary in progress call from an employee with Eagle Rock Energy Company before noon Wednesday at the site of several old oil wells on Alger Road near Butler Street in the Robinsonville Community.

“One of the employees with Eagle Rock was going to check a well site and they located the two suspects stealing copper,” Johnson said.

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Mark Wayne Smith, 39, of 67 Macadoo Lane in Huxford fled the scene on foot, while his partner in crime, 32-year-old Edwin Bartley of 403 Forrest Avenue in Atmore, sped off in a nearby Jeep Grand Cherokee, plowing through a fence during his escape.

According to Johnson, the employee proceeded to chase Bartley in his vehicle, but lost him throughout the winding roads.

“The suspect must of got lost and turned around and eventually the complainant and the suspect hit each other head-on,” Johnson said.

Both the employee and Bartley received minor injuries in the accident and were transported to D.W. McMillan Hospital by ambulance where Bartley spent the evening prior to being arrested and booked in the Escambia County Detention Center.

The Alabama Department of Corrections’ dog team was called in to attempt to locate Smith and due to the extreme heat, the Century and Santa Rosa County dog teams were called in for assistance to give the ADOC dogs a rest during the search, Johnson said.

“We took them to where the chase started and located a small amount of crystal methamphetamines and located foot tracks where the suspect ran on foot,” Johnson said. “The dogs started tracking from there.”

The dogs picked up Smith’s scent and teams began their search, one that lasted from 12:34 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. when he was discovered on Butler Street, two miles from the scene of the crime.

Both Smith and Bartley were charged with attempted burglary third degree, attempted theft third degree, criminal trespassing third degree, criminal mischief third degree and possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamines. Bartley was also charged with reckless endangerment for the head-on crash.

Johnson added that both men were already on probation in Alabama for unrelated charges.

Both men remain behind bars in Brewton.