Manhunt over: Convicted felon captured at Paul B. Johnson - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Manhunt over: Convicted felon captured at Paul B. Johnson

Ryan Lendingham was taken into custody around 5:30 Friday evening Ryan Lendingham was taken into custody around 5:30 Friday evening
Ryan Lendingham was taken into custody around 5:30 Friday evening Ryan Lendingham was taken into custody around 5:30 Friday evening
Ryan Ledingham Ryan Ledingham
FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - UPDATE: Shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, authorities captured convicted felon, Ryan Ledingham at Paul B. Johnson State Park. A Lamar County K9, named Kilo, made the initial contact with Ledingham as a team of deputies swarmed the suspect, and took him into custody.

Ledingham could be heard screaming as authorities removed the K9 from his bite, and escored Ledigham from the woods.

When asked where his weapon was, Ledingham replied: "I ain't got no gun, I ain't had no gun."

Ledingham had been on the run since Thursday morning for allegedly kidnapping his former girlfriend as well as breaking into a home, and stealing a total of three vehicles over the two day span.  

Authorities continued searching Friday morning in the area near Ledingham's residence on Merrill Fuller Road when around 1 p.m. they were alerted of a vehicle being stolen from the Kangaroo Gas Station at the U.S. Highway 11 and Sullivan-Kilrain Road.

Shortly after, Mississippi Highway Patrol officers spotted the vehicle heading south on Highway 49, and began their pursuit. As units closed in, Ledingham turned into the Paul B. Johnson State Park, where he wrecked in the wood-line down an embankment.

Highway patrol officers attempted to pursue, and other agencies closed in and set up a perimeter around the wooded area just inside the main gate of the park.

Lamar County K9 units were brought in to help track Ledingham, as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter with forward looking infrared imager (FLIR).

"We have been chasing this character for two days and nights now, its been a long and drawn out process," said Forrest County Sheriff Billy Magee.

"He is a bad act, and we are fortunate to have him off the streets," said Magee.

Officers from the Lamar County Sheriff's Department, MBI, MHP, Mississippi Department of Corrections, U.S. Marshall's Task Force, Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as well as other agencies assisted in the manhunt.

"With collaborative effort of the law enforcement agencies that were involved we were able to get someone who is mighty dangerous off the streets," said Magee.

Law enforcement officers flooded the street where officers exited the woods with Ledingham, exchanging high-fives as well as handshakes all around.

"This brings law enforcement together more than any other thing that happens in law enforcement," said Magee. "Manhunts are the death of law enforcement officers."

"It's a good time for law enforcement when this happens, when we can work together, and the outcome is great, and everyone feels good about what we do," said Magee.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel also passed on congratulations and job well done to his officers, as well as their K9 partners, who all spent most of the evening in the dense wooded area inside the state park.

Friday morning:

Forrest County Deputies, Lamar County Sheriff's Department, U.S. Marshall's Task Force, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Petal K9 officers, and Mississippi Department of Corrections officers assisted in the overnight search for  Ledingham.

“Ledingham is considered armed and dangerous, if you see him, contact 911 immediately,” said Forrest County Sheriff's Department Capt. Glen Moore.

Ledingham, 28, is around 5'6", 200 pounds, brown hair, hazel eyes; no recent clothing description is available at this time due to a recovered hoodie found inside of a second stolen vehicle.

Overnight efforts were attempted to use Rescue 7, as well as the Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter with thermal imaging, however both efforts were grounded due to weather. Since around 9 a.m. Friday, a helicopter assisting in the search can be seen circling the area.

MHP officers and Forrest County and Lamar County deputies spent the night searching areas along Sullivan-Kilrain Road and along rail road tracks near U.S. Highway 11.

As of Friday morning, officers are concentrating on the area near Merrill Fuller Road where the suspect's residence is located, as well as an outer perimeter around the U.S. Highway 11 area.

Ledingham was arrested in 2008 on a residential burglary charge, and sentenced to to the Mississippi Department of Corrections in 2011, where he served a little over 3 years. Ledingham was released on parole in May 2014.

Thursday morning:

Around 8:45 a.m. Thursday, officers responded to the Tuttle Ridge subdivision in Dixie in reference to a domestic related kidnapping. Upon arrival officers discovered Ledingham had kidnapped his former girlfriend and stolen a car from the residence.

According to Moore, around 30 minutes the later, officers found the stolen vehicle abandoned at the end of Chester Brown Road.

The Hattiesburg Police Crime Scene Unit was called in to help process the scene.

According to Moore, as they were processing the vehicle a second call came in, and the caller advised Ledingham broke into to residence at the 100 block of Chester Brown Road.

"During his attempt to break in, the victim was able to escape and go to a nearby residence for help," said Moore. "We have her and she is safe." 

After the victim was safely recovered, officers concentrated on the wooded area and roads near Elks Lake Road.

According to Moore, around 4 p.m. a white van was reported stolen from Elks Lake Road.

Shortly after, the van was found abandoned off U.S. Highway 11 stuck in the mud just off Merrill Fuller Road along the Forrest- Lamar County Line.

“The clothing description that we last have of the suspect wearing a black pull over hoodie has changed," Moore said. "We recovered the hoodie with the stolen van."

After the van was recovered, officers continued to search the area around Ledingham's residence as well as ride along roadways in the area.


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