South Carolina Fugitive Found Hiding 35 Feet Up a Tree

By John Smithies
John Smithies
John Smithies
A journalist for The EpochTimes based in London. These views are firmly my own.
November 28, 2018 Updated: September 30, 2019

A man who allegedly hit a Georgia deputy with a stolen car was found hiding 35 feet up in a tree.

Bacon County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to reports of a suspected stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a convenience store in Alma on Nov. 26.

After officers approached the vehicle, it sped off “at a high rate of speed,” according to the sheriff’s office, hitting Deputy Nicole McElroy as it did so.

McElroy was badly bruised by the car, the sheriff’s office said, and appreciated people’s “thoughts and prayers” on her condition.

Officers chased the car until its driver abandoned it and ran into some woods, WALB News 10 reported.

The suspect, 39-year-old Joseph Allen Tuten, was ultimately found hiding 35 feet up a tree, shirtless.

Why his shirt was missing hasn’t been confirmed.

Tuten, a fugitive from South Carolina, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, theft by taking a motor vehicle, felony fleeing, and eluding law enforcement, as well as multiple traffic citations, WJCL 22 reported.

In August, he was arrested for stealing a water truck from a construction site, according to the Lexington Police Department, The State reported.

Bail was set at over $31,000 for Tuten, who was facing other charges at the time.

Criminals in Trees

It’s not the first time a criminal has been found hiding in a tree, shirtless.

In 2017 Curtis Cameron was pursued by Skagit County police in Washington state for over six hours.

Cameron had an extensive criminal history that included attacking people at a party with Molotov cocktails, and stealing almost $50,000 in equipment from the U.S. Forest Service.

Police had been looking for him for months, so after he was spotted more than 40 officers and a helicopter took up the chase.

After jumping into a freezing river, Cameron took off most of his clothes, hid in a blackberry bush, and climbed a tree.

It took tear gas from the police to remove him from the tree, and the promise of clothes.

“I think he was cold. I think he was embarrassed,” said Skagit County Chief Deputy Chad Clark, according to K5 News.

Toward the end of 2017, 22-year-old Joshua Blackwood hid up a tree in Kitsap County, Washington, after being chased in a stolen car.

Multiple police officers located Blackwood hiding 30 feet up a tree, with deputies convincing him to come down.

Blackwood had been wanted as a fugitive since August of that year, mainly over charges of theft and reckless driving, Q13 Fox reported.

In 2016, Lane Scott Malouff, 30, was arrested for assault and attempted murder after a five-hour standoff in which Malouff scaled a tree in Colorado Springs.

Police discovered that Malouff had assaulted the mother of his two children and fled on foot before police arrived, the Alamosa Valley Courier reported.

Colorado Springs Police Department found Malouff around six weeks after the incident, and Malouff climbed the tree to avoid being arrested.

John Smithies
A journalist for The EpochTimes based in London. These views are firmly my own.