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Search for fugitive suspended

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COVINGTON –The search for a Henning fugitive was suspended late Wednesday afternoon.

All day, law enforcement officers, including U.S. Marshalls and agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, concentrated the search effort for a Henning fugitive in the area of Melrose Road south of Covington.

Officials have been looking for Stephen Melton since his Jan. 11 escape from police custody.

That day, Melton was arrested at his Henning home and placed in the back of a patrol vehicle while police searched the residence, finding a meth lab, guns and pipe bombs in his home.

The 58-year-old kicked the glass out of the patrol vehicle, then stole it, dumping the SUV into a wooded area in Lauderdale County and fleeing on foot.

Considered armed and dangerous, he was placed on the TBI's Most Wanted list last week.

A ping from his cell phone brought law enforcement officials to the Melrose Road area Wednesday morning, prompting Dyersburg State Community College to place its Covington campus on lockdown at 10:30 a.m.

Students began being escorted from their classrooms to the parking lot at 1:15 p.m., campus officials indicated in school-based emails to students.

There were also reports that Baptist Memorial Hospital-Tipton and other businesses in the area were on lock down.

The search was centered in the southern end of the city, but was suspended in the late afternoon.

It was being conducted on foot and with the use of the Tennessee Highway Patrol's helicopter.

Late Wednesday, he had not been located, but leads were still being followed.

He is approximately 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. He had a large beard, which was shaven into a goatee.

Melton has a criminal history of aggravated assault, traffic and drug charges. Anyone with information on Melton's whereabouts is urged to call TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463) or the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office at 713-413-7499.

There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

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