Anonymous tip leads to capture of America's Most Wanted

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An anonymous tip on Sunday led Barry County Sheriff's deputies to a remote area near Mineral Springs to capture of one of America's Most Wanted felons, who has been on the run for over a decade.

According to Sheriff Mick Epperly, James Willis Brown, a featured felon on the real-life crime show "America's Most Wanted," was located at a residence on Farm Road 1150 on Southern Acres Drive near Mineral Springs.

Brown was sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault of a child in 1999. The judge temporarily released Brown from custody so he could take of his affairs before going to prison, and Brown disappeared.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office received the tip and deputies David Roark and Steve Jabben went to investigate.

At the site, they located Brown in a camper near a main residence at 15600 Farm Road 1150. Brown was taken into custody without incident.

"Mr. Brown has been staying in Barry County about nine years," said Epperly. "He had traveled with a carnival and drifted in and out of the county a number of times.

"When questioned, Mr. Brown indicated that he liked Barry County and he decided he wanted to live in this area," Epperly said.

Brown has had trouble with the law since 1980 and was arrested for driving while intoxicated and other offenses before being charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child in 1999 in Grayson County, Texas.

U.S. Marshals believe that right after Brown was released by the judge pending imprisonment, Brown hitchhiked from Sherman, Texas, to Memphis, Tenn., where he went into hiding with his son. Authorities were not able to locate Brown at that time.

Brown was charged with failure to appear for his sentencing hearing, but the judge sentenced him to life in prison in absentia.

"This just shows that people should keep an eye out on who is living nearby," Epperly said. "Barry County is a very remote area [that encompasses] the Mark Twain National Forest."

According to Epperly, Brown has had a few run-ins with law enforcement officials since being on the run.

"He would give officers fake identities to keep from being captured," Epperly said. "I think Texas will be glad to get him back into custody."

Epperly said his department appreciates the numerous tips that citizens turn in on suspicious activity or people.

"We appreciate the trust they have that we will follow up on those tips and get justice," he said.

Information on local sex offenders can be found on the Barry County Sheriff's Department website at Information on America's Most Wanted fugitives may be found online at

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: