By Walter GeigerA recently paroled, ‘˜dangerous’ felon who had already given U.S. Marshals the slip once was captured here June 18 after an 11-hour manhunt in and around the Finney Lake swamp off Highway 36 West.Billy Lee Owens was spotted parked in a stolen flatbed truck behind Midway Church in the wee hours Wednesday morning. The same person spotted the truck again about 6 a.m., reported it as a suspicious vehicle to the LCSO and a deputy responded.A recently paroled, ‘˜dangerous’ felon who had already given U.S. Marshals the slip once was captured here June 18 after an 11-hour manhunt in and around the Finney Lake swamp off Highway 36 West.Billy Lee Owens was spotted parked in a stolen flatbed truck behind Midway Church in the wee hours Wednesday morning. The same person spotted the truck again about 6 a.m., reported it as a suspicious vehicle to the LCSO and a deputy responded.Asked to exit the vehicle, Owens instead roared off and turned westbound, riding on the railroad tracks. He then turned right on McCollum where it loops back into 36 west of Midway Road. A high speed chase ensued. As he attempted to turn onto Perkins Road, Owens hit a light pole. When he could not unstick his vehicle, he fled on foot into the swampy area, touching off a massive search which grew to include some 60 law enforcement officers.Conditions in the moccasininfested swamp were brutal. Heat forced search teams to swap out personnel and search dogs often. Fluids were at a premium.A perimeter was set up along McCollum and, later, a second perimeter was expanded out to five miles. Three helicopters from Coweta and Fulton counties and the Georgia State Patrol, prowled the sky above the search area as did a fixed wing aircraft from the Marshal’s service. A command post at the go-kart track bristled with exhausted, heavily armed searchers.Just before 6 p.m. a marshal on the perimeter spotted Owens as he came out of the woods, not far from where the chase started and attempted to peel panels off the side of a house owned by Bobby McKenzie of Selma, Ala. A tactical team swarmed in and arrested Owens without incident.The suspect was dehydrated, briar-torn and suffered multiple insect bites but was otherwise fine. There were no serious injuries among the searchers. Owens was taken to the Lamar jail, processed and later released to Fayette County where he was wanted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and multiple other counts.Sheriff Brad White said Owens’ criminal history is 60 pages long. His dossier with the Georgia Department of Corrections showed the following convictions: theft by receiving (eight), auto theft (six), theft by taking (five), fleeing and attempting to elude (three), entering an auto, escape, obstruction, DUI, criminal damage to property, burglary and kidnapping dating back to 1994. He was paroled on Feb. 24, 2014 on the kidnapping conviction which occurred in Walton County. The drama unfolded June 17 when marshals attempted to arrest Owens at a home in Woodstock. He fled in a van and attempted to run down officers, striking one with a mirror.Marshals fired at least one shot at the fleeing vehicle.Owens then hid in some weeds overlooking the Cherokee County Water and Sewer Authority work yard. When it quieted, he cut a fence and stole the truck he drove to Lamar County.No one is sure of his route here but Sheriff White theorized the truck was low on fuel and Owens was parked behind the church waiting for T.J. Outfitters to open.Two women in the home in Woodstock from which Owens fled were also arrested.Lakeshia Dawn Bryant, 34, of Marietta was wanted for failing to appear in court in Cobb County and was charged with hindering the apprehension of a fugitive. Glenda Duncan, believed to Owens’ girlfriend, was arrested and handed over to Meriwether County where she was wanted in connection with a stolen vehicle she and Owens were in possession of.Gavin Duffy of the Marshals Service praised Sheriff White and his office for cooperation.The sheriff also had high praise for others who assisted in the search.Those agencies included Barnesville and Milner police, Georgia State Patrol, Department of Corrections, Pardons and Paroles, GBI, DNR and the sheriff’s departments from Rockdale, Fayette, Pike, Upson and Coweta counties.’We couldn’t have done it without them.We’re glad Owens is in custody and that no one got hurt,’ the sheriff concluded.
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