UPDATE: Manhunt ended in father's arrest after infant carried 90-minutes in freezing temps, sheriff says

Becky Campbell • Updated Jan 9, 2017 at 6:26 PM

Saturday night into Sunday morning, the temperature in Washington County dipped to the single digits, so there was some urgency about a domestic disturbance call regarding a man who took off on foot with a 2-month-old baby, according to a warrant filed Monday in Washington County General Sessions Court.

The incident began with a domestic violence call about 10 p.m. Saturday at 508 Colony Court. Sheriff Ed Graybeal said a woman told Washington County sheriff's deputies that her live-in boyfriend, Jonathan Pearson, 36, assaulted her then locked himself in their residence with the baby.

The woman, Candise Stout, told officers that Pearson pulled her hair, bit her on the shoulder and took her phone to keep her from calling 911. The warrant did not indicate why the couple was arguing. But she warned officers there was a shotgun in the residence.

Officers tried to make contact with Pearson and called out several times. After getting no response, deputies forced their way into the residence and searched for Pearson and the baby, but the two were gone. The shotgun case was also empty, according to the warrant.

At the time, the ground was snow covered and the temperature was in the low teens, the warrant indicated. Officers discovered snow tracks leading from the rear of the residence into nearby woods. They followed those tracks onto Rockingham Road — about 300 meters by foot, according to a Google map — but didn't find Pearson.

In addition to deputies who initially responded to the scene, the sheriff’s office’s SWAT team, Johnson City police, Washington County/Johnson City EMS and the Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to assist with the search. The THP used its thermal camera-equipped helicopter to aid in the search.

Investigators obtained authorization to ping Pearson's cell phone, which showed up in the area of 365 Boring Chapel Road. They focused efforts in that area, but realized Pearson had doubled back toward his own residence. An officer spotted Pearson walking toward Colony Court, but the man didn't have his child.

The officer called out and identified himself, and Pearson started running toward Blue Friday Road and was able to evade further detection.

A short time later, Pearson called Stout and she was able to get directions that led officers to 105 Captains Lane, where the child was located safe inside that residence around 1 a.m. with Julie Smith

Pearson was also found inside the residence, and officers took him into custody. The baby had an abrasion on the side of her head and was checked for any other injuries at Johnson City Medical Center.

During the investigation, officers determined Pearson had the baby outside for about 1 1/2 hours while he was trying to evade arrest. The temperature during that time had dipped to 5 degrees with the wind chill factored into the equation. Smith told officers Pearson had left the child in her residence for about an hour while he was going back to his home to get supplies for the child, but returned without either of those things.

After arresting Pearson, deputies searched him and found Subutex tablets and a syringe in his pants pockets. Pearson denied to officers that he ever had the shotgun, but officers noted in the warrant that the weapon had not been found.


Reported at 10:30 a.m. Monday:

A four-hour manhunt in Gray ended in the arrest of a man accused of endangering an infant he was carrying for more than 1 1/2 hours in freezing temperatures Saturday night and Sunday morning through the Oak Grove area, Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said in a news release.

The incident began with a domestic violence call about 10 p.m. Saturday at 508 Colony Ct. Graybeal said a woman told deputies that her live-in boyfriend, Jonathan Pearson, 36, assaulted her and left on foot with their 2-month-old child and a shotgun.

Along with the Washington County S.W.A.T. Team, Johnson City Police Department, Washington County EMS and Tennessee Highway Patrol, deputies searched a large area for Pearson on ground. The search also involved a thermal camera-equipped helicopter from the THP. After a four-hour search, authorities found Pearson and the infant at 105 Captains Lane in Gray about 1 a.m. Sunday morning.

Investigators determined that Pearson had been outside evading the searchers on foot with the infant for more than 90 minutes, the sheriff said. The temperature at that time was 5 degrees with the wind-chill factor.

Washington County EMS took the 2-month-old to Johnson City Medical Center for an exam.

Pearson was charged with child abuse and neglect, aggravated assault, simple possession, unlawful drug paraphernalia and evading arrest. He was jailed in the Washington County Detention Center on $20,000 bond awaiting a Sessions Court appearance set for today.

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