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Sex case
fugitive
caught

Athens police captain identifies man wanted in Indiana as clerk at store he frequents

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com · 340-2445

ATHENS — Perhaps it was fate that a former reserve deputy accused of child molestation and exploitation in Indiana got a job working at a convenience store in Athens frequented by the city's police captain.

Perhaps it was mere chance the two would share the same last name, thereby catching the captain's attention.

Whatever led to those coincidences has made a determined detective in Indiana a happy man.

Vanderburgh County, Ind., Sheriff's Department Detective Steve Lockyear has been searching for Louis Gene Bruce, 60, for two years. Lockyear said Bruce allegedly molested Bruce's 5-year-old foster granddaughter and showed her pornography.

"As a reserve officer, he knew the system," Lockyear said. "He fled days before his trial in October 2005."

He was out on $25,000 bond when he fled, Lockyear said.

The detective never gave up on finding Bruce, who became a fugitive from justice. He got tips Bruce might be in Memphis or Alabama, where he once worked as a pipe fitter.

Lockyear said he can't reveal what led him to believe Bruce was in the Athens area, about 250 miles from Vanderburgh County.

Bruce does not have any known family or friends here, Lockyear said.

The detective, however, does have relatives in Decatur and knows about the Athens area. He felt so strongly his suspect was in Athens that, on his way home from Talladega last week, he stopped for gas at an Athens exit.

"I thought I might catch a glimpse of him," Lockyear said, "but I didn't."

Instead, the detective sent a wanted poster to Athens police Wednesday.

That landed in the possession Capt. Marty Bruce.

That's right. The same captain who often stops at the MinitMan BP station at U.S. 31 and Forrest Street, where Louis Bruce has been a clerk since December 2005.

Unfortunately for Lockyear, he stopped at a station at U.S. 72 and Interstate 65 and didn't take the U.S. 31 exit.

Fortunately for Lockyear, Bruce the police captain recognized Bruce the fugitive.

And no, the two aren't related, Capt. Bruce said.

"Louis Bruce came to Athens approximately two years ago," Capt. Bruce said. "He said his wife had been killed in a tornado, and he was looking for a new start. We determined (Wednesday) his wife was still living in Evansville, Ind."

Evansville is the county seat of Vanderburgh.

Lockyear said a massive tornado did rip through the area not long after Louis Bruce fled.

"It killed about 23 people, so that's probably where he got that story," Lockyear said. "That's one question I plan to ask him."

Athens police arrested Louis Bruce on Wednesday at the Bomar Inn on U.S. 31, where he has been living. He is in Limestone County Jail awaiting extradition.

The MinitMan gas station is across the street from Athens Bible School, but Athens Lt. Floyd Johnson said there are "no indications Louis Bruce has done anything of that nature here."

Lockyear commended Athens police and said it "was a very good catch by local authorities."

"They did a fantastic job," he said.

As did fate and chance.

Limestone no place to be a fugitive

Fugitives fleeing to the Limestone County area have not had much luck avoiding the law. Since November, local authorities have captured or nearly captured six fugitives, including three wanted for murder. One fugitive died in a shootout with authorities. Another committed suicide before turning himself in. The others went to jail.

Here’s a highlight of those cases:

  • May 2, 2007 — Louis Gene Bruce, wanted since 2005 on charges of child molestation and exploitation in Vanderburgh County, Ind. Was working as a clerk at an Athens convenience store. Athens police Capt. Marty Bruce recognized him from a wanted poster.

  • April 2007 — Jerone Bussey, wanted by Indianapolis authorities for two counts of murder and feticide for allegedly shooting a pregnant mother and her roommate while the mother’s children hid under a table. Was on the run since the February shooting until U.S. Marshals received information he was in Athens. Athens patrolman Brandon Turner pulled Bussey over on U.S. 72 near Lindsay Lane.

  • January 2007 — Andres Arizmedi Flores, wanted by U.S. Marshals since June 2006 on federal drug charges. Limestone County Sheriff’s Department deputy Justin Flanagan pulled Flores over for not having working taillights and then discovered he was a fugitive. Charges stem from a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force’s roundup aimed at dismantling a Decatur man’s drug-trafficking organization.

  • Michael Doyle, wanted in Illinois for robbery. Athens police officer Perry Gooch pulled Doyle over for allegedly drinking and driving. Doyle gave a fake name, police said, but authorities discovered his identity when they ran his fingerprints.

  • December 2006 — Marcus Warmley, wanted by Kansas authorities for murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend. The girlfriend’s four children were at home during the shooting, and the 9-year-old girl ran outside for help when she couldn’t wake her mother. Warmley fled to his parents’ Harvest home. Sheriff Mike Blakely said his parents told him to turn himself in, but he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

  • November 2006 — Gregory Smith, wanted by Illinois authorities for the shooting death of his wife. Smith drove 540 miles south on Interstate 65 and called Pulaski, Tenn., authorities to tell them what he had done. He stopped at the Ardmore, Tenn., welcome center. Local and state authorities evacuated the facility and surrounded Smith’s car. Smith refused to exit the vehicle, saying the On-Star system wouldn’t unlock the doors. He agreed to let police break out the back glass so he could crawl out, but when police broke it, he fired at officers. Authorities returned fire, killing him.

    - Holly Hollman

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