BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
Sunday, March 21, proved to be a unique day in the annals of manhunts for the Butler County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). A car chase involving an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Trooper led to a manhunt, complete with tracking dogs, a shifty felon, and an eventual treeing with the arrest of John Caton Lee, age 41, from Red Level.
According to Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond, a State Trooper was traveling south on McKenzie Grade Road near Mt. Olive Baptist Church when a vehicle approached him at an excessive rate of speed.
The Trooper turned around to make a traffic stop and the person driving the vehicle tried to elude but when turning on a dirt road just north of the church lost control and ran into the ditch.
The driver left the car and went into the woods on foot. BCSO deputies were called to assist in the search.
After losing the trail, the tracking dogs from the Department of Corrections in Atmore were called to assist and placed on the scent.
After several hours of tracking the driver through the woods and back and forth across the dirt road, the dogs seemed to lose the scent at a dirt road intersection with a tree house stand.
Bond said the dog handlers decided to let the dogs do their job and work out the scent trail. Within just a bit the dogs worked it out and they all gathered at the base of the stand and began acting as if they had something treed.
With a laugh, Bond said, “The dogs were having a conniption fit. They were trying their best to get up in there.”
He added they were able to persuade Lee to come down when an officer told him, “We know you are in there and you had better come on out. Don’t make us come up there and get you! Just come on down because we know you are in there.”
According to Bond, Lee soon slid the door open and said, “I’m coming. Just don’t hurt me.”
Lee was arrested and taken to the Butler County Correctional Facility and charged with attempting to elude, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He already had seven outstanding traffic warrants with Butler County, several with Andalusia, and two felony warrants with the Department of Corrections.