LAURENS COUNTY, Ga. — The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office needs your help finding a wanted felon who ran away from deputies.
Lieutenant Lance Padgett says they didn't even know he was a fugitive at first.
"Around 2:00 in the morning, I got a phone call. I was on call last night, so the deputies called me out," he said.
He had a busy start to the work week, with a harassment call coming in the early hours on Monday morning.
"This individual was riding up and down the neighborhood, I think, spending his tires, revving the engine up, whatever the case may be, and the deputies went by just to check on that," Padgett said.
They had no idea it involved 40-year-old Jody Dale Gossett, an escaped felon wanted in South Carolina for second-degree arson.
"They didn't have any reason to think that he was going to run because they were just dealing with a harassment call. That's when whenever they realize and hear sound from the back and it sounds like somebody's running through the woods coming out the back door," Padgett said.
Deputies found Gossett's wallet inside the house and checked the tags on a white Ford Explorer parked outside.
"The tag did not match that vehicle, so they run the VIN number and that vehicle actually came back stolen from South Carolina," he said.
Padgett called Wilkinson County's K9 unit and Georgia State Patrol's Aviation division for help with the search.
"They went into woods to try to locate him. That's one of the reasons the K9 couldn't really get a scent. Another reason was aviation -- when it's real hot like it was last night, it's hard for the flare to see anything," he said.
They searched for three hours with no luck, and Padgett is looking for anyone who can help.
"If you know Mr. Gossett, if you know where we can put our hands on him and locate him, just call 911 and they'll dispatch one of us out there," he said.
Padgett says deputies weren't able to get a clear view of Gossett's clothing when he ran off.
They're still patrolling the area with unmarked and marked cars.
A man who told 13WMAZ he owned the home said Gossett doesn't live there but often visits people who live on the street.