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Restitution center escapee captured

A Ruth man who escaped from a restitution center in Jacksonnearly two months ago was captured in Louisiana over the weekend,authorities said.

Concordia Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrested Johnny L. Wallace,18, of 3629 Winn Rose Lane, Ruth, after a short foot chase aroundmidnight Friday, according to local authorities working on thecase.

“Authorities were alerted to his location from a phone call hemade,” said Lance Falvey, an investigator for the Lincoln CountySheriff’s Department.

When authorities approached the abandoned house Wallace wasstaying in, he saw them and took off on foot. Officers gave chaseand caught Wallace shortly afterwards.

Wallace allegedly burglarized two of his relatives’ houses inRuth just days after his March escape from the restitution center,where he was working to raise money to pay family members afterburglarizing their houses a few years ago, said Lincoln CountySheriff Lynn Boyte.

Wallace was charged with armed robbery, three counts of burglaryof a dwelling, grand larceny and conspiracy to commit a crime inconnection with last month’s burglaries.

“This has definitely been a case where the victims and lawenforcement were able to work together,” said Falvey.

Wallace was transferred to the Lincoln County Jail and is beingheld without bond.

He told authorities it was his first time back in Lincoln Countysince about March 9, when he and companion, Robert Keith Hardin,19, of McComb, who also escaped from the restitution center,allegedly left the area after the burglaries.

In a statement to investigators, Wallace said they traveled toNew Orleans, Texas and Mexico, where he apparently eludedauthorities twice.

During his stay in Mexico, Wallace told Falvey he was arrestedfor drunk driving, but the charges were dropped. Then he ran intoauthorities again while attempting to cross the border back to theUnited States.

“He set off some border sensors that alerted the bordercontrol,” said Falvey, adding that Wallace said he was able to hidehis identity by giving officers his brother’s name, social securitynumber and date of birth.

His third attempt to elude authorities was unsuccessful inLouisiana and led to his arrest. Falvey complimented the work ofauthorities in Concordia Parrish.

“They did a great job working on this case with us,” saidFalvey.

Authorities are still searching for Hardin, who may still be inMexico, said Falvey.