A manhunt continues for a fugitive still at large after forcing two schools to be on lockdown Wednesday afternoon.
Officers were still looking for Jeff Hodges, 40, as of press time last night after he fled the scene of a traffic stop near Warren County High School. Both WCHS and adjacent Hickory Creek Elementary were placed on lockdown for about 45 minutes Wednesday afternoon, but the lockdown was lifted at the end of the school day so students could leave.
The incident began Wednesday afternoon when a sheriff’s deputy passed a car driven by Heather Dawn Fralix, 38, and noticed Hodges as a passenger in the vehicle. Knowing Hodges had warrants against him for burglary, the deputy turned around and turned on his blue lights.
According to Sheriff Jackie Matheny, the vehicle slowed down but didn’t come to a complete stop. While it was traveling at a slow speed, Hodges popped open the sunroof, climbed through it, and jumped from the car while it was still moving. He was seen running through the residential area next to WCHS.
“He has a history of running,” said Sheriff Matheny. “I’ve been sheriff here for 20 years and he’s been in and out of prison the majority of that time. It was about two years ago he escaped from the White County Jail and they found him at a meth lab. He just recently got out of prison and now he’s into this.”
Officers with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and McMinnville Police Department converged on the scene but could not locate Hodges. Sheriff Matheny said a car was stolen from a nearby neighborhood Wednesday night and speculated it could have been Hodges, but said he has no way of knowing for sure.
Meanwhile, Fralix was arrested charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of evading arrest for re-portedly trying to run over a deputy during the traffic stop. Her vehicle was finally pulled over near the gym entrance to WCHS and was eventually towed from that spot.
Matheny said Hodges has a known address in town and deputies have been actively looking for him.
“We worked all night, but he’s still on the run,” Matheny said Thursday morning. “We’re going to keep working till we find him.”