VAN ZANDT — The United States Marshals Service “Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force” facilitated the arrest of Jerry Don Whatley today, 17 January 2012.
Whatley had been on the run for the last five years, and was a Van Zandt County “Most Wanted” Fugitive.
Whatley was wanted for Bond Forfeiture/ Aggravated Sex Assault of a Child since 10 January 2007. The U.S. Marshals Task Force, Tyler Division, was approached by the Canton TX Police Department for help with bringing Whatley to justice. The Tyler U.S. Marshals adopted this fugitive case in October 2011, and Investigators began developing various leads to locate him.
This fugitive investigation was accomplished by the network of U.S. Marshals offices around the country. Marshals in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida were involved in this investigation. Over the past several months, Investigators conducted interviews and surveillance at various locations, eventually leading to Whatley’s arrest. It was determined that Whatley was actually living in two places, one in Texas and the other in Okeechobee Florida, and traveling back and forth. To complicate things even more, Whatley had assumed a new identity. In the last few weeks, enough information developed that placed Whatley in Okeechobee, FL.
On 17 January 2012, the U.S. Marshals, Fort Pierce FL Division, located the address, and observed a vehicle with a Texas plate in the driveway. The arrest culminated with a traffic stop of this vehicle where Whatley was identified as the driver. Whatley was found to be in possession of false identification documents. The false I.D. card contained his photo, but was bearing the name David Simms. Whatley was also found to be in possession of counterfeit currency. Jerry Don Whatley is now in custody of the Okeechobee FL Sheriff’s Office, where he will await extradition proceedings back to Texas. Local charges are also being filed on Whatley in Florida as a result of this arrest.
The Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force is a team comprised of law enforcement officers from 76 law enforcement agencies in the East Texas area. The task force objective is to seek out and arrest federal, state, and local fugitives, mainly those with violent criminal histories to include sex offenders.
Information from U.S. Marshals