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Sheriff: It was a matter of time until escapee was captured

Logan County Sheriff Steve Smith said last week he knew it was only a matter of time before Gary Topham, the Logan County Jail inmate who escaped on Monday, Nov. 4, would be caught.

On Thursday, Nov. 7, Topham was captured by officers while hiding behind a house in Booneville, taken into custody without incident and returned to the Logan County Detention Center in Paris.

“Not many people who escape stay free for long,” Smith said. “But, it’s just one of those things. You don’t know how long it’s going to take. I always felt like we were going to catch him, but I am surprised we found him inside the county.”

Smith said the Sheriff’s Department got a 911 call around 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6 and the caller reported that Topham had been seen running down Ivy Street in Booneville. Officers converged on the area.

“When they got to the area, they heard a nose behind a house on Sassafrass Street,” Logan County Chief Deputy Sheriff David Spicer said. “They checked, found him and took him into custody without incident.”

That 911 call was the third reporting a sighting of Topham in Booneville, Spicer said.

When he was captured, Topham was wearing a camouflage jacket and pants, Spicer said. When he escaped by climbing a chain link fence topped with razor wire that surrounds the jail’s exercise yard, Topham was wearing a black-and-white-striped jail uniform.

Smith also said the Sheriff’s Office was getting information that led them to believe Topham, of Magazine, wasn’t getting much help from friends or relatives.

“Two people not related to him or friends of his did give him rides, unknowingly,” Smith said.

Smith also said widespread media coverage of the escape helped in capturing Topham.

“The man who called us Thursday was reading the paper and looking at a picture of Topham shortly before seeing him on the street,” Smith said.

However, one person authorities believe assisted Topham, Johnny Yancy, 26 or 27, of Fort Smith, has been charged with hindering apprehension. Smith said Yancy is believed to have tipped off Topham that deputies were on their way to a house Yancy occupied in Sugar Grove. Topham was at the house, Smith said

Topham was originally jailed on Friday, Nov. 1 following an appearance in 15th Judicial District Circuit Court in Booneville. He has been charged with failure to appear, fleeing, manufacture of meth or cocaine and possession of a controlled substance. He was being held on two, $250,000 bonds. Last Friday, an additional manufacturing charge was filed against Topham and Circuit Judge Jerry Don Ramey assessed a bond of $500,000 on that charge.

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