| By Billy Davis
After fishing Friday morning for slow-biting crappie, Wayne Thompson sat down in a lawnchair outside his camper at Sardis Lower Lake, where he expected to enjoy a quiet fall day in the near-empty campgrounds.
The peaceful morning was about to get busy, however, after Thompson observed a pair of sheriff’s patrol cars roar past him on Highway 315, heading south. A third patrol car stopped, blocked the highway, and out stepped Sardis Police Chief Mike Davis, who had armed himself with a Mini-14 rifle.
A half-mile away, Justin Scott Hadorn was driving a stolen Ford Ranger over the Sardis spillway, trying to outrun an unmarked Dodge truck that had met him on top of the dam. A sheriff’s department cruiser had also met him and turned around, and now it had passed the slower Dodge truck and was catching up with him.
Across the highway from the campground, Hadorn pulled the Ranger to the shoulder and opened the door, seconds away from fleeing through the campground and attempting yet another escape. He never got the chance.
"The gold truck was about to stop when the cop car hit the driver’s door," Thompson recalled. "They had the guy out of the truck and on the ground pretty quick, and then there were cops everywhere."
and a pulled knife
The arrest last Friday of Justin Hadorn, 28, ended a three-day game of cat-and-mouse that pitted Hadorn and his girlfriend, Amy Gail Turley, 31, against Panola County law enforcement.
Hadorn is from Abbeville, though he has relatives in Panola County. Turley is from Senatobia.
The search for the couple began Tuesday morning by the Batesville Police Department when Hadorn allegedly pulled a knife at Wal-Mart during an attempted shoplifting.
Over the next three days Hadorn and Turley would drive a Nissan truck into the Bilbo’s convenience store, located west of Batesville, and take away an ATM machine; shoplift cigarettes from the Dellie’s convenience store, located on Highway 315 east of Batesville; and steal two window air conditioners from Hadorn’s aunt’s home on Hadorn Road, located west of Batesville.
Sheriff’s investigators discovered the ATM machine, which Hadorn had pried open, in a barn behind the home.
Hadorn may be facing at least four auto theft charges. The Nissan truck was reported stolen from Tate County, and he allegedly stole a maroon Suburban on McNeely Road before stealing the Ford Ranger from a residence near Mallard Point Road.
Any specific charges against Turley and Hadorn are still unknown until the investigation is concluded, said Panola Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright.
Regarding the alleged knife incident at Wal-Mart, BPD Major Tony Jones said, "It’s still under investigation, but we’re going to charge (Hadorn) with everything we can."
‘They were after crack’
Despite a coordinated and relentless effort to locate them, Hadorn and Turley somehow managed to elude the law, all the while allegedly binging on crack cocaine as they fled.
"They were after crack, and they going wherever they knew they could find some," said Bright, summarizing the couple’s criss-cross across the county.
On Thursday, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement agencies twice swarmed the roads of south Panola County, expecting both times to locate Hadorn and Turley in a white Nissan pickup with a blue racing stripe.
Despite credible tips from the public, and quick responses and coordination from deputies, Hadorn and Turley slipped past a small army of law enforcement officers whose numbers had swelled since Tuesday.
After eluding law enforcement twice Thursday, deputies wondered if Hadorn and Turley were traveling with a police scanner and monitoring the sheriff’s department’s radio traffic.
"They were always a step ahead, but it was pure luck," said sheriff’s investigator Albert Perkins, who was driving the Dodge truck that met Hadorn at Sardis Dam.
Prison dog hits the trail
The sheriff’s department nabbed Turley around midnight Thursday, when a bloodhound from Parchman prison tracked the woman to the trunk of an abandoned car near Eureka Road.
Deputies had swarmed a group of trailer homes on Eureka Road shortly before 8 p.m., responding to a tip that Hadorn and Turley could be found in a mobile home located on the north end of the property. But they had walked to a trailer farther south and fled into thick underbrush when deputies arrived.
Miss. Highway Patrol state trooper Dennis Darby and his K-9, Bissie, searched the woods around Will and Fog roads, stopping after a two-hour search failed to find the couple.
Hadorn and Turley had apparently split up, and Turley had doubled back to the trailer and hid inside the car where she was found.
Law enforcement combed the woods for Hadorn until about 2 a.m. before breaking off the search, Bright said.
Friday morning, Panola County sheriff’s deputies, backed by several other local and state agencies, fanned out across south Panola County in search of the maroon Suburban.
When a sheriff’s dispatcher reported a hit-and-run near Sardis Lake involving a red Suburban, the noose began to close around Hadorn, who ditched the vehicle when it blew a tire.
On the scene at Mallard Point Road, Sheriff’s deputy Eric "Buck" Harris spotted and reported to dispatch the fast-moving Ford Ranger, which Perkins would intercept minutes later.
Perkins was passed by a fast-moving police cruiser driven by sheriff’s deputy Billy Lambert, who was the first to catch up with Hadorn while Davis blocked the highway.
From his viewpoint on the highway, Davis said he yelled to Hadorn to stay in his truck and show his hands. And then he witnessed the cruiser and the Ford Ranger colliding, curling up the truck’s door and breaking off the passenger’s side mirror of the police cruiser.
"It shocked me at first," said Davis of the crash.
According to Thompson, watching the end of the chase and the arrest beat a slow morning of fishing.
"I didn’t know we had that many police in the whole state of Mississippi," he said.