Escapee reportedly used machete to steal relative’s vehicle
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A former Atmore resident who walked away from a minimum-security corrections facility in Loxley last Wednesday (July 10) remained at large as midweek approached.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported that 41-year-old Travis Wyatt Dawson was still on the loose and could still be in the Atmore-Nokomis area, although there are indications that he has left.
Brooks also reported that Dawson has a cell phone with which he has been able to monitor to some degree the movements of law enforcement officers as they searched for him. The police chief said lawmen hope that won’t be a factor much longer.
“He’s got a cell phone, but that battery has to run down sometime,” Brooks said.
The search for Dawson was initially focused on an area near the Florida-Alabama line, then switched to the Rockaway Creek Road area on Friday.
Officers also checked out at least one lead that put the escapee’s possible whereabouts in the downtown area of Atmore, but a Friday afternoon search at a local tire store proved unsuccessful.
Authorities blocked off a section of U.S. 31 near Nokomis Friday night and again on Sunday after possible sightings were reported, and the search was eventually expanded to the McCullough area, where the inmate’s father reportedly lives.
Brooks said Dawson, as any escapee, might be prone to “unpredictable” behavior and urged local citizens and visitors to remain alert and to secure their vehicles, homes and any weapons.
Brooks’ warning came to fruition on Sunday, July 14, when published reports indicate that Dawson used a machete to commandeer a relative’s van in rural Florida, just across the state line. The vehicle was later found abandoned in Mobile.
The escapee, who reportedly attended Ernest Ward Middle School, has a long criminal history that doesn’t include any violent crimes, was serving a 20-year sentence for an Escambia County (Ala.) drug conviction and was reported missing from the minimum-security facility around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Dawson is 6-feet-2 and weighs 220 pounds. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black pants when last seen by corrections officials.
Anyone who sees the escapee or might have any information on his whereabouts is urged to not confront him but to call Atmore police at 251-368-9141 or Alabama Department of Corrections at (800) 831-8825 or 911.