Escaped inmate nabbed in Calhoun County

The search for Chad Johnson, who escaped early Tuesday morning from the Gulf County Detention Facility, came to an end sometime before 8:30 p.m. Thursday, not long after the van he had stolen was found about five miles south of Blountstown on Highway 71.

“We got our bad guy,” said Sheriff Mike Harrison. 

He said the manhunt took place on the west side of 71, about a mile north of Carlos Peavy Road.

Johnson was found with the help of a helicopter from Leon County, which used a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) system. As temperatures cooled, Johnson’s presence became more pronounced on the thermal imaging and that enabled his detection, the sheriff said.

Harrison said the escaped inmate had laid up in a spot in the thickly wooded area where K-9 units would have a harder time finding him. As several deputies converged, Johnson offered no resistance.

“He knew he was outmanned,” said Harrison.

Johnson was hiding about 100 yards from where law enforcement had found the 15-passenger van from Gant’s BBQ that Johnson is believed to have stolen not long after he and a fellow inmate overpowered a guard, ripped out an window air conditioner and escaped through the hole at the Gulf County Detention Facility early Tuesday morning.

“It was at an abandoned house or a camp here, where it appears he’s been
staying at the last couple nights,” Harrison said about 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

“We have reason to believe he was here not long ago,” he said. “There was nobody there at the house, it was abandoned.”

In addition to Gulf County deputies, the search was conducted by K-9 units from Gulf Correctional Institution, Calhoun Correctional Institution, and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition there were aviation units from Bay, Leon and Calhoun counties.

He said no roads had to be blocked off, and all those in the area were  notified of law enforcement’s efforts and of the capture.

“We were treating him as armed and dangerous due to his history,” Harrison said. “There are multiple locations where he could have obtained a weapon.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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