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Fugitive now in custody

By Michael Butler

Tallassee police, along with county and state agencies, had a bead on Paul Jacob Holley, at least it seemed they did.

On Thursday, Feb. 5, authorities received a call at 5:00 a.m. that Holley was seen on Jordan Avenue. Holley had been at large since escaping from Crenshaw County Jail in Luverne on Jan. 2.

The 46-year-old white male, who has a prosthetic leg, was tracked by K-9 teams near Thurlow Dam. Dozens of officers scoured the Tallapoosa River banks during the manhunt.

Holley slipped through the cracks in the midst of the search and his whereabouts remained unknown until Friday afternoon, Feb. 6. Authorities received a tip on a call from a resident on Frog Hollow Road in East Tallassee. K-9 units led law enforcement to the capture of Holley finally putting an end to the drama.

"It actually began on Jan. 2 when he escaped from Crenshaw County. We were able to locate the vehicle that he used to escape in behind AES at the boat landing," Tallassee Police Chief Jimmy Rodgers said. "He had several people he associated with Tallassee during his stay here several years back."

Holley (Courtesy of TDPS)

Holley had a stint at the Dobbs House in Jordanville, where he was spotted last week. It was realized that Holley had spent much of his time since the escape in Tallassee in a makeshift shelter that was discovered on the property of the halfway house where those recovering from drug and alcohol reside.

"There were some items found in one of the houses that was abandoned," said Rodgers. "It used to be the supervisor's house there at the Dobbs House. He was able to put a pallet and some other items under the back side which had been something he just recently did. Apparently the elements were getting to the point that he felt he needed to come out of them for a while. We had already searched that house two or three different times. He said during the interview process that he'd been living in the woods and mill area."

One of the tenants at the Dobbs House contacted local authorities after seeing Holley last week.

"(Holley) had already fled into the wooded area," Rodgers added. "Three teams began the search of the general area. All teams tracked him to the old mill on the Elmore County side near Thurlow boat landing. We focused our attention on that mill. There's underground tunnels and collapsing walls.

"We had to navigate through there as cautiously as we could unlike him. He has a different purpose in mind. His purpose is to get away. He's able to maneuver around that mill and do things that we weren't going to put our men in harm's way of doing."

When Holley was located he did not surrender. "There was some resistance," Rodgers noted. "He latched on to one of agents with his teeth. They had to forcibly take him to the ground."

Rodgers said that Tallassee Police received two to three calls daily with Holley sightings during the period after his escape.

"He apparently tried to make contact with some of his associates on Friday that led to his apprehension," he said. "This is not the first time he's escaped. One time he was gone for over a year. During that time he developed the ability to become a survivalist, to live off the land and spend the majority of time in a wooded area. We have information that there were individuals who were taking him food. That's being looked into."

U.S. Marshals spent weeks in Tallassee questioning Holley's acquaintances. Investigators are checking on the possibility that locals might have aided and abetted Holley.

"We feel pretty certain that there were indivduals that gave him shelter," said Rodgers. "Whether we'll be able to determine that, it's still under investigation."

Holley is now being retained in holding cell from the same jail he escaped in over a month ago in Luverne.

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