LEE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — Following a manhunt for a Tennessee homicide suspect in Lee County, Virginia, authorities say the man is no longer in the county.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday evening it had confirmed that Jason Dockery, 44, of Knoxville, had left the county.
The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that Dockery was spotted in Union County, Tennessee on Wednesday evening. As a result, the U.S. Marshals Service search operation in Lee County was shut down and moved back to Tennessee.
Dockery hitched a ride with an unknowing driver to Union County. He was picked up a few miles from where he was last seen in Virginia, U.S. Marshal David Jolley said.
Sheriff Gary Parsons spoke with News Channel 11 earlier Wednesday as the search for Jason Dockery, 44 of Knoxville, entered its second day. He said it was concerning that a full day of searching for Dockery did not yield any results.
“There certainly is a concern, and that’s very possible,” Parsons said. “We find it unusual that he’s made no effort to get a vehicle or to get food or anything, and no one’s seen him make any attempt at that. So, it is possible that he’s left the area.”
The manhunt for Dockery began Tuesday evening after the Lee County Sheriff’s Office warned residents in the Ewing area to shelter in place and avoid strangers. It was later reported that Dockery was a suspect in an Anderson County homicide that took place the same day.
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office released the identity of the victim of the reported homicide, naming her as Shystie Ranea Mayberry. She was reportedly found dead from a gunshot wound on Tuesday afternoon, and a pursuit began in Claiborne County, Tennessee later in the day.
Dockery is also wanted for violation of probation and aggravated assault out of other East Tennessee counties.
“We’re chasing down every call that we get,” Parsons said Wednesday. “People are hearing dogs barking. Certainly, everyone’s paranoia and concern. And we’ve had calls of people seeing people on the road. We’ve checked all of that out, but really nothing new has developed as far as a suspect.”
The search for Dockery caused Lee County Public Schools to close Wednesday. However, schools will operate on a regular schedule Thursday, according to the district’s assistant superintendent.
The United States Marshals Service reported Wednesday that most of Dockery’s connections appear to be in East Tennessee counties like Knox, Sevier and Anderson counties. Parsons said those searching in Lee County did not believe Dockery was familiar with the area.
Dockery abandoned his vehicle along Pete Sumpter Drive in Lee County. A search dog followed his scent until it was lost at a nearby creek.
One nearby resident was worried that Dockery was holed up in his house after hife wife received a phone call from neighbors.
“Our neighbors called her, and I thought that he was holed up in our residence,” Jeff Ayers said. “So I was very disturbed.”
Ayers was relieved when authorities checked his home and found no signs of forced entry. He said he slept lightly and stayed on guard knowing that Dockery was last tracked in that area.
“Normally in this area, we’re very rural and we don’t have a whole lot of violent crimes or violent people,” Ayers said. “So when it comes to our area, it’s alarming and it’s something that we’re not used to.”
The Marshals Service has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Dockery’s arrest. He is described by investigators as 5 feet 6 inches and weighing 170 pounds. The Marshals Service reports he is believed to be armed and “very dangerous.”
Anyone who sees Dockery or has information is asked to call 911.