One burglary suspect in custody; arrested in Cherokee County
By JOHN A. WINTERS
Authorities have captured one suspect involved in Monday's burglary in Coweta County and subsequent manhunt, while the other is still at large.
James Elton Howard Jr. was arrested Tuesday in Cherokee County after stealing a dump truck in Newnan, according to Investigator Mark Callahan with the Coweta County Sheriff's Office. Cherokee deputies found Howard walking down the road a few hundred yards from the truck, which he abandoned after it ran out of gas.
Around 11 a.m. Monday, a home on Welcome Road in west Coweta was broken into, Callahan said. The homeowner noticed the door knob on her back door was broken off and the door was wide open.
"The victim stated that she noticed that her laptop was missing and a Nook e-reader," the investigator said. "The victim noticed that the suspect took her fruit out of her fridge and starting eating it."
The burglars then broke into another nearby house on Welcome Road, stealing a laptop and guns, Callahan said, adding the homeowner surprised one of the suspects who fled and dropped some stolen items along the way.
Deputy Matt Williams spotted a yellow Plymouth Neon, which he thought looked suspicious in the area. When he turned to check it out, the driver sped off out of sight, Callahan said. Williams then put out a lookout notice and Deputy John Curtis found the car on Lower Fayetteville Road in Newnan.
As Curtis attempted to pull the vehicle over at a convenience store, the driver jumped out and ran off, with the car still rolling down the hill, the investigator said. The other passenger also fled the scene after stopping the car. From there, a search began.
"The manhunt utilized dozens of officers from Newnan PD (Police Department) and the sheriff's office assisted by aerial surveillance from Coweta's helicopter," Callahan said. "The burglars' vehicle contained several items from the two burglaries, including one victim's laptop and her e-reader."
The manhunt continued around the area of Lower Fayetteville Road until 10:30 p.m. Monday. During that time, canine search units followed a trail to a new construction site behind Newnan Lakes subdivision.
"It was discovered that either Howard or Dixon had broken out a window and entered into the construction trailer," Callahan said. "Keys to a truck were stolen and the corresponding dump truck was also stolen."
Howard was later arrested on Tuesday by Cherokee deputies and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle. Both men have a history of thefts and burglaries, Callahan said.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dixon should call Callahan at 678-423-6709 or the sheriff's office main line at 770-253-1502.