Hunt back on for sexual predator

Published 8:38 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Sunday night, Decatur County Sheriff’s deputies nabbed a wanted sexual predator from Illinois, but had to let him go after law enforcement in his home state said they would not travel to Georgia to pick him up.

Now, the hunt is back on, as U.S. Marshals—experts in locating fugitives from justice—are actively looking for him using information from Decatur County deputies.

The sexual predator was identified as Stephen Patrick McClure, 39, from Granite City, Ill. He is wanted because he fled his last known address without notifying law enforcement, as he is required to do every year by Illinois law.

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Capt. Chip Nix, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office, said he was at the Raceway convenience store on Tallahassee Highway while off-duty at about 8:30 last Sunday when he came across a group of people that included McClure.

Nix recalled there were several things that made him suspicious.

“There were two white males talking with the store clerk about where they could find a cheap motel room. They were buying nothing but energy drinks and talking about the route they had taken to Bainbridge from I-10,” Nix said.

According to Nix, the travel plans the men talked about didn’t make logical sense, which coupled with other observations made him increasingly suspicious.

The van the men had pulled up to the store in had a cracked windshield and a Wyoming license plate. Nix watched as a third man opened the van’s rear door and got out with what appeared to be a young girl. Inside the van, Nix could see only a mattress and no rear seats. Although the girl turned out to be a dwarf, Nix was concerned for her welfare at the time and called for backup.

Sgt. Justin Bedwell arrived and checked the ID cards of the people who were in the van, which is how deputies discovered McClure was wanted.

Supposedly, the group was traveling to meet up with a carnival they worked for, Nix said. The Sheriff’s Office provided the U.S. Marshals with information deputies gathered, including details about ATM/debit transactions that McClure and his friend made while at the store.

Concerned citizens can search through a national sex offender registry by visit a Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Justice at