Originally created 08/01/98

Escapee Mace caught



AIKEN -- Law-enforcement officers captured an escaped fugitive early Saturday morning, ending a nine-day manhunt.

Aiken County Sheriff's deputies apprehended John Travis Mace, 27, at about 4:35 a.m. after a deputy found him sleeping under a table in an upstairs bedroom of a Beech Island home, said Lt. Michael Frank of the sheriff's office. The home was the same house where deputies had searched for Mr. Mace late Thursday afternoon.

Police don't know if Mr. Mace was at the home during Thursday's search, or if he had left and returned later, Lt. Frank said.

"We don't know and he's not telling," Lt. Frank said.

Mr. Mace is being held in a state prison, Lt. Frank said. He faces numerous charges, including three counts of first-degree burglary, two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, failure to stop for a blue light and siren, larceny, and resisting arrest, Lt. Frank said.

Aiken law-enforcement officials will charge Mr. Mace with other crimes, Lt. Frank said. Mr. Mace already faced charges of burglary, forgery, grand larceny and possession of crack cocaine when he escaped from the Aiken County Detention Center on July 23.

Thirteen different law-enforcement agencies participated in the search for Mr. Mace, which began after he scaled a fence topped with razor-wire to escape the Aiken County Detention Center.

The ensuing days had more twists and turns than a Hollywood movie script, as Mr. Mace allegedly abducted his 18-year-old former girlfriend, released her three days later, led police on a high-speed chase Wednesday through parts of Augusta and back into South Carolina, and fled into the woods near Beech Island after a crash ended the pursuit.

For almost three days, law-enforcement officials searched nearby homes and forested areas, until Mr. Mace's capture this morning.