A man mistakenly released from Valdosta State Prison is accused of pulling a knife on an elderly woman and child before tying them up in Jones County on Dec. 29.
Charles Anthony James, 24, was arrested in Springfield, Ill., on Tuesday after a canine unit found him hiding in a warehouse after he fled from a car accident with a stolen vehicle, said Kenny Gleaton, an investigator with the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m glad he’s in custody before he gets into any more mess,” Gleaton said.
James has been linked to multiple crimes since he stepped off a bus in Macon on Dec. 27. About noon Dec. 29, a 79-year-old baby sitter and the 9-year-old girl she cares for returned home to Emerald Park Drive off Joycliff Road to find an unknown man inside.
The intruder bound both victims, demanded the woman’s 1993 Dodge Caravan and fled.
The abandoned van was recovered Jan. 3 on Interstate 24 in Cadiz, Ky., where a similar home invasion involving a man with a knife robbing an 88-year-old woman and her 65-year-old daughter took place, Gleaton said.
Another vehicle was stolen in that case and was recovered in the Springfield accident.
Jones County investigators had been tracking James since Jan. 7, when a man living about a quarter-mile away from Emerald Park Circle had found James’ personal identification papers. Gleaton learned James had been mistakenly released from prison after serving time for a Richmond County robbery but he also was wanted in that county on other charges in the Augusta area, including rape and robbery, he said.
Investigators in Illinois found stolen property in the vehicle that came from multiple burglaries in Sangamon County.
“As far as we know, no one has been hurt along the way but he covered a lot of territory so it’s certainly a possibility he committed more crimes along the way,” Gleaton said. “He got off the bus in Macon and everything went downhill.”
Jones County has placed a hold on James but expect him to return to Richmond County first to answer the charges there.