Tifton Gazette

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December 28, 2007

'Most Wanted' suspect arrested in Berrien

TIFTON — A 45-year-old man who had been on the run from Florida law enforcement since 1991 when he was convicted of a sex offense against a child was arrested Wednesday in Nashville at the Dollar General store he was managing.

According to Berrien County Sheriff Anthony Heath, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement faxed his office information about James Stevens. That department said Stevens was on its top 20 Most Wanted list and had absconded from probation.

“They were thinking that he might be in our county,” Heath said. “My investigators got together and began to work on it diligently and found out that someone by this name was living in Enigma.”

Heath said investigators checked the residence in Enigma where Stevens was living and also discovered that he was working in Nashville at a Dollar General store. Investigators and deputies went to the Dollar General and confirmed that Stevens was managing that store.

“Along with tattoos and one of four different Social Security numbers, we were able to identify him,” Heath said. “We ran his fingerprints on Live Scan and the FBI confirmed that he was who we were looking for.”

Heath said Stevens is being held in the Berrien County Jail awaiting an appearance before a judge to waive extradition before being handed over to Volusia County, Fla., authorities.

“We don’t really know much of anything about him (Stevens),” Heath said. “We will follow up and see how long he’s been here.”

Heath said his department hadn’t fielded any complaints about Stevens.

Reports are that Stevens had managed the Holiday Market in Ty Ty up until several years ago when he moved from that city.

According to information at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Web site, Stevens was convicted on Aug. 12, 1991, of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 16.



To contact senior reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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