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Manhunt finds suspect in vehicle theft, break-ins


(Updated July 24, 11:10 am)

Manhunt finds suspect 
in vehicle theft, break-ins

       A suspect in multiple break-ins this week in Alexander County apparently attempted to escape on foot after the vehicle he had allegedly stolen broke down a short distance from the crime scene. Several officers engaged in a manhunt to track down the wanted man.

The case began, according to Sheriff Chris Bowman, when two homes on Hefner Lane in the Wittenburg Community were reported broken into on Tuesday, July 22. That same day, at about 6:30 p.m., another report was received -- a vehicle had been stolen from a chicken farm located on Alspaugh Dam Road in Taylorsville. The vehicle, a chicken litter truck, was soon located near the intersection of Church Road and Liledoun Road.

The Alexander County Sheriff's K-9 officer was called to the location of the stolen vehicle to assist in the apprehension of suspect James Ashley Sweet. He was found later that evening, hiding in a barn located off of Sipe Road, which is off Liledoun Road.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., officers from the Alexander County Sheriff's Office and officers with the Taylorsville Police Dept. arrested James Ashley Sweet, age 34 of Taylorsville. Sweet was charged with four counts of breaking and entering and larceny of several homes in the Wittenburg Community, three counts of breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, misdemeanor larceny, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Sweet was placed in the Alexander Co. Detention Center under a $175,000 secured bond and first appearance set for July 23, 2014, in District Court in Taylorsville. Attorney Robert Lamontagne was appointed to defend Sweet.

        Sheriff Chris Bowman said Sweet was out on bond on charges of larceny and failure to pay child support at the time these crimes were committed.

Also charged in relation to these crimes is Jessica Marie Benedict, age 32 of Taylorsville. Benedict was charged with possession of stolen property and possession of Schedule IV controlled substance. She was placed under a $2,500 secured bond and has a court appearance on August 18, 2014.

       The investigation is continuing and more charges are expected.

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