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Man wanted in Newton arrested in Valdosta

COVINGTON — A man wanted in Newton County for probation violation has been arrested in Lowndes County, where he is accused of leading authorities on a manhunt after allegedly stealing a dump truck in Macon.

Justin M. Johnson, 24, of Macon was arrested Tuesday along with 30-year-old Jessie Scott Atkinson near Valdosta.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office reported that Johnson has been booked in the Newton County Jail seven times, and a warrant for probation violation was issued in December.

The Sheriff’s Office stated that Johnson was arrested in June 2009 on a shoplifting charge in Covington and then again in July 2009 on a burglary charge. He was later placed on probation and has been arrested by the Covington Police Department several more times since then on various charges such as shoplifting, criminal trespass and probation violation.

According to The Valdosta Daily Times, Johnson and his accomplice were arrested last week after Lowndes County sheriff’s deputies attempted to conduct a traffic stop Monday morning on a dump truck traveling south on Interstate 75. A chase ensued when the driver refused to stop. Deputies then discovered that the truck had been reported stolen from a construction site in Macon.

After a brief chase, the dump truck stopped and the driver and passenger ran into a nearby wooded area. Deputies and K-9 units canvassed the area while a Georgia State Patrol helicopter searched from above, but the men were not immediately found.

A witness contacted authorities Tuesday afternoon when the two men were seen near an exit area. The manhunt continued and the two were apprehended.

Atkinson was transported to the Lowndes County Jail and Johnson was taken to South Georgia Medical Center for treatment of exposure sustained after both men stayed overnight in the woods, the Times reported.