published Friday, August 20th, 2010

Escapee dodging manhunt

A Tennessee fugitive convicted of breaking into convenience stores and stealing cars all over Florida and Tennessee for two decades is reportedly on the loose in Georgia and driving a stolen truck.

Barefooted, 38-year-old Arthur Milks climbed over the razor-wire fence at the Henderson County Jail in West Tennessee on July 25 and hid in the woods before escaping, police say.

On the lam ever since, Milks has led police on a chase from Tennessee to Alabama to Georgia.

“He’s not a run-of-the-mill burglar. He has a method and seems well versed in what he does,” said Robert Paris, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office in Gordon County, Ga., where Milks slipped through a manhunt earlier this week.

No one knows exactly where he is or where he may be headed, although officials say he has family in North Carolina.

The Tennessee Department of Correction is heading the investigation for Milks and local police in nearby states are on the lookout for him, said Dorinda Carter, a Department of Correction spokeswoman. Police were warned that Milks could be armed.

“Most important now is we don’t know what he’s capable of,” she said.

Milks has been convicted on 31 charges, including burglary, vandalism and auto theft in Florida and Tennessee since 1990 and escaped from jail at least once before, Carter said.

He was serving a 22-year prison sentence for possession of prohibited weapons, burglary, theft and vandalism and was in Henderson County for a court hearing when he escaped, Carter said.

Police believe Milks traveled from the jail in Lexington, Tenn., to Moulton, Ala., breaking into an Alabama Department of Transportation office along the way and stealing a white pickup truck, food and clothes before heading into Georgia.

In Plainville in Gordon County, where Milks last was spotted, police believe he broke into a Dollar General store and stole some food.

“He breaks into businesses to support himself,” said Henderson County Sheriff’s Capt. Anthony Woodfin.

Police also believe he stole a brown Chevrolet pickup truck from a Plainville home Tuesday and left town. Roads were barricaded and bloodhounds sent out Tuesday night, but Milks slipped through, Paris said.

Milks’ first escape was in 2006 or 2007 from a Mississippi jail, Carter said. He was rearrested in May 2007 in Jackson, Tenn., Woodfin said.

“We didn’t know he had escaped before or we would have never let him outside,” Woodfin said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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August 20, 2010 at 4:11 a.m.
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