November 17, 2006
Approximately ten thousand outstanding arrest warrants are haunting the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
To make matters worse, there's understaffing and an overcrowded jail.
A lot of the crimes leading to these outstanding warrants aren't minor. In fact, many of them are violent.
In this story, we meet a woman who had no idea her attacker has been on the loose for years.
In 2001, Lashell Pace Reddick feared her life would be cut short. She was robbed at knifepoint in a hotel parking lot.
"And once he got out the car, he pulled out this long knife and it was a machete."
The man police say is responsible, Eric Fant, has yet to be arrested.
And this happened nearly six years ago.
"They have not caught the guy and he's still on the loose and he can do the same thing again," Reddick said.
News 12 has learned Richmond County is up to its neck in outstanding arrest warrants like these--approximately ten thousand of them.
Among the crimes committed are statutory rape, kidnapping, and even child molestation.
You may remember a story we aired last month about Charles Larke, Jr., son of the former school superintendent, who is wanted for felony dog fighting.
We had no trouble finding him...but he too has yet to be booked.
"Of course, it would always be nice if you could just take people and OK, this is all you'll do all day long is go out and look for people on warrants," Lt. Jimmy Young told News 12. He says that is unrealistic.
Due to understaffing, the sheriff's office is forced to prioritize warrants and focus on the major crimes.
"Those are the ones you want to go after first," he said. "Those are the ones where you'll spend your most time and manpower."
But Lashell, who sought professional counseling after her attack, thinks the back-up is sending ten thousand wrong messages.
"It's really saying to the general public you can do whatever you want to and get away with something major and something you ought to spend the rest of your life incarcerated for," she said.
Richmond County's civil division is responsible for making the majority of these arrests, but often investigators will help out as well.
Many of these criminals have no permanent addresses. They could leave the state if they wanted to. It's not as simple as knocking on doors or even looking up a phone number in the phone book. Tracking them down can be pretty tough.