ROGERSVILLE — Deception can be a valuable tool in law enforcement, such as the way it was used last week by Hawkins County Sheriff Roger Christian to capture an escapee from Mississippi.
Area law enforcement authorities weren’t aware until last week that Mississippi prison escapee Larry Rodney Brewer, 40, of Tupelo, was staying and working in Hawkins County.
Wednesday evening Brewer’s girlfriend reported that he’d taken her vehicle and failed to return it. Brewer had reportedly called his girlfriend and told her it was at Rick and Dot’s Market in Surgoinsville.
Aside from calling the sheriff’s department, Brewer’s girlfriend also called her daughter in Rogersville to go secure the vehicle.
“The daughter met with deputies as she was going to retrieve the vehicle, and she was the one who told us that Mr. Brewer was wanted,” Christian said. “We ran a check on Mr. Brewer and discovered he was in fact wanted for escape in Mississippi where he’d been convicted of aggravated assault.”
After leaving the vehicle at the market Wednesday afternoon Brewer had reportedly taken some beer into a nearby wooded area, but hadn’t been seen since.
The vehicle was recovered around 5 p.m. Wednesday, but the sheriff’s department didn’t hear anything else about Brewer until around 9 p.m.
That’s when Brewer reportedly called a former employer and asked for a ride home from Surgoinsville. The former employer then called the sheriff’s department and volunteered his work van — a vehicle familiar to Brewer — for use in a sting to capture Brewer.
“Our suspect was convicted of a violent crime, and we had information that he might be armed,” Christian said. “This individual (the former employer) volunteered to drive the van to pick up Mr. Brewer, but I didn’t want to put a civilian in danger, so I drove the van and brought a couple of deputies with me.”
Christian said the van was supposed to meet Brewer in front of a residence on Main Street. Brewer was hidden in a shadow when Christian arrived in the van.
“I called to him and told him to come on, and he came out,” Christian said. “When he got close enough, my deputies jumped out of the van and took him into custody.”
Brewer was charged with being a fugitive from justice. Christian said Brewer signed an extradition waiver, and he remained lodged in the Hawkins County Jail on Sunday awaiting authorities to take him back to Mississippi.