Manhunt produces three forgery suspects

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2001

A Halloween panic alarm activation at a Georgiana supermarket started what would be an "all-nighter" manhunt

one that yielded three forgery suspects, and landed them in jail.

The Georgiana Police Department was dispatched to a reported panic alarm at Super Foods, on Palmer Avenue on Oct. 31, at approximately 6:30 p.m.

According to law enforcement accounts, a cashier noticed something suspicious about two separate checks presented for cashing.

"Georgiana Police Investigator Neal Nelson was dispatched to Super Foods, after a cashier reported a suspicious person attempting to cash what appeared to be a forged check," said Kenny Harden, chief deputy for the Butler County Sheriff's Office. "The cashier said her suspicion was raised because this was the second such check, in a matter of minutes, by two separate individuals."

Harden said the first check, which was cashed, was drawn on a Taco Bell account in the amount of $285.41, and the second check, which was never actually cashed, was in the amount of $286.19.

"The checks appeared to be payroll checks," Harden said.

Harden said that as Nelson approached the store, the suspect ran out of the building.

"In the parking lot, there were two additional suspects, identified by the complainant," Harden said. "The two other suspects then exited a brown-colored 1995 Hyundai Elantra, displaying a Tuscaloosa County tag n they also fled on foot."

Harden said that once Georgiana Police Chief James Blackmon arrived on the scene, the Butler County Sheriff's Office was called to assist. The suspect vehicle was impounded for being used during the commission of felony crimes.

It was due to the magnitude of the case that Investigator Nelson and Chief Blackmon felt they should turn the case and investigation over to the Butler County Sheriff's Office.

After obtaining a search warrant from the Butler County District Attorney's Office, signed by District Judge Barry Branum, the vehicle was searched.

"In the suspect vehicle, we located an additional 10 checks, with various dollar values on them," Harden said. "They all appeared to be Taco Bell payroll checks."

A state K-9 tracking dog team was summoned from Holmden Prison in Atmore, and once they arrived, two of the suspects were located within 15 minutes of the dogs being turned out.

Harden said the third suspect apparently put time and distance between himself and the officers, as it was not until after a lookout was placed on the police radio that he was spotted at a local service station.

"The clerk at Myrick's Amoco, located on Ala. Hwy. 106 at I-65, heard on a scanner the description of the third suspect," Harden said. "She called and reported that an individual matching the description was on the station's property using a pay phone.

Officers quickly responded and the suspect was apprehended without an incident.

"One of the first two suspects had currency in his pockets," Harden said. "He began giving us what turned out to be false identification, with the wrong name, wrong date of birth and wrong social security number."

Harden said the first suspect denied any knowledge of the other two suspects involved in the offenses, in spite of the fact that he had in his possession the keys to the vehicle they had been in.

"At the time of his apprehension, he also had currency hidden in his shoe," Harden said.

While two of the suspects had no prior wants or warrants from other jurisdictions, one suspect, Johnny Omar Raheem Harvey, a 27-year-old black male of Tuscaloosa is wanted by the Aliceville, Ala. police on previous outstanding warrants: two counts each of unlawful possession of a forged instrument, second degree and theft of property, second degree.

The other suspects have been identified as Alvin Leon Whittsette, a 26-year-old black male from Tuscaloosa and Jermaine Jonathan Burton, also known as Terry Anthony Green, a 25-year-old black male, also from Tuscaloosa.

The trio are being held in the Butler County Jail on 12 counts of unlawful possession of a forged instrument, second degree.

Harden said District Judge Barry Branum had set their bonds at $110,000 each, although if they were to make bond on the charges in Butler County, Harvey would be held for the Aliceville Police Department.

"Burton was also charged with criminal obstruction of justice, second degree, a felony, for concealing his identity during the commission of felony offenses," Harden said. "This is one more example of multiple agencies working together to fight the war on crime in our communities," Harden said. "The Georgiana Police Department should be commended for the way in which they isolated and secured the scene, as well as the area the suspects fled to until the dog team could arrive."