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Manhunt ends with burglary suspects arrest
1013ManhuntRussell Allan Owen
Russell Allan Owen

A Lawrenceville man suspected of at least 20 burglaries in Northeast Georgia and possibly others in Kentucky, Alabama and Illinois was arrested Monday night after eluding authorities for three weeks.

Russell Allan Owen, 44, of Old Peachtree Road in Lawrenceville, led numerous law enforcement agencies on a daylong manhunt through parts of Hall County Monday and is now being held in Gwinnett County without bond. He faces numerous burglary, traffic and theft by receiving charges, said Col. Jeff Strickland of the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

"We've been after this guy ever since he was identified as our suspect," Strickland said.

Strickland said about $100,000 in stolen property has been recovered, including jewelry, musical instruments, electronics, 20 firearms, a telescope and an Elvis doll that were taken from residences in Hall, White, Union, Gwinnett, Lumpkin and Dawson counties. Much of the property was recovered in late September.

"This has been a huge case and our investigators have been going through property that has been stolen," he said.

On Monday, the manhunt started in South Hall County in the area of JJ Lott and Benefield roads near the Jackson County line, the sheriff's office said. About 10 a.m., investigators and patrol officers from the Hall and Jackson sheriff's offices spotted Owen traveling into Hall County on Davenport Road in a U-Haul truck.

According to a Hall sheriff's office news release, Owen fled a short distance after he was spotted before abandoning the truck and running toward a JJ Lott Road residence. Then the Hall sheriff's office K-9 units and a helicopter from the Georgia State Patrol began a search.

About 12:30 p.m., sheriff's officials said, Owen attempted to break into a residence on Benefield Road, but a neighbor spotted him and he again fled into the woods.

Sheriff's officials said Owen was able to steal a vehicle from a nearby business on Winder Highway and drove out of the area undetected.

Later, investigators were able to establish a Gwinnett County location where Owen was believed to be headed and set up surveillance.

About 6 p.m., the sheriff's office said, Owen appeared near the surveillance area in the stolen vehicle and Gwinnett County Police tried to execute a traffic stop.

He again ran, but Gwinnett police captured him and took him into custody without incident.

"Owen was really elusive, especially (Monday)" Strickland said.

Strickland said the U-Haul truck Owen abandoned was carrying residential furniture and officials are trying to determine if it was stolen.

"We're looking at seven reported burglaries in Hall County and possibly additional burglaries attributed to him," Strickland said.

Also related to the stolen property, Gwinnett County investigators arrested Tony Lamar Hightower, 59, of Lawrenceville, and charged him with seven felony counts of theft by receiving, felony drug possession with intent to distribute, felony possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of marijuana, possession of drug-related objects and drugs not in original container.

Hightower was booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center, where Owen is now being held.

The stolen property "came from residential burglaries where the perpetrators break into the house while people aren't home and steal from the houses," Strickland said in September when some of the items were recovered. "They they try to sell the items, trade them for drugs or pawn them."