Update: Suspect continues to elude authorities

As of 10:20 a.m. Saturday, Rillo still on the loose

By Kevin Spradlin

The search continues for John Adam Rillo, a fugitive on the run from law enforcement authorities after the Rillo escaped Friday morning while briefly in the custody of Richmond County sheriff’s deputies.

John Adam Rillo

John Adam Rillo

Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge told The Pee Dee Post at about 10:20 a.m. Saturday that Rillo was handcuffed “and jumped into a dog lot” after being found at the home of his parents. He was handcuffed and arrested on an outstanding warrant. The deputy was escorting Rillo to the patrol car to be transported to Richmond County Jail when Rillo made his move.

“The deputy could not get control of him due to the dogs all jumping around the deputy,” Gulledge said.

By the time the deputy had freed himself from the dogs, Rillo “had hit the thick woods.”

The escape occurred at about 10 a.m. Friday at the home of Rillo’s parents. After a deputy placed Rillo in handcuffs, Rillo made the escape. Gulledge said the dog pen was more like a “hog lot” with dogs in it.

“The dogs knew Rillo,” Gulledge said of the animals who were less than pleased to see a stranger — the deputy — there.

The deputy “had (gone) to the home to get info from his parents about his whereabouts,” Gulledge said. “He stumbled upon (Rillo).”

Gulledge said deputies often work alone, especially when there’s no intelligence data suggesting that a suspect is at a certain location. It’s common among state troopers, too, he said.

“If we had info he was there, yes, we probably would have had two deputies, but we have to get the job done sometimes alone,” Gulledge said.

Gulledge added that Rillo was last seen running behind the home through “very thick woods” filled with snakes that law enforcement officers encountered during the search Friday.

Rillo was arrested in December on a multitude of drug and weapons charges but was released after he posted $35,000 bond.

Rillo’s now been on the loose a little more than 24 hours. The search to apprehend him has focused on the area between Ellerbe, Norman and the Montgomery County border.

His last known address, as first reported by The Courier-Tribute in Asheboro, is in Montgomery County. Gulledge said deputies from the Montgomery and Richmond counties sheriff’s offices, the Rockingham Police Department K-9 unit, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, the North Carolina Department of Corrections K-9 team and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol air unit, as well as troopers on the ground, have “all worked as one trying to locate Rillo.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Richmond County Crime Stoppers at 910-997-5454. An arrest could lead to a cash reward. Callers can remain anonymous if they prefer.

Reported Friday night

Wanted on federal charges, Rillo escaped custody

Staff report

RICHMOND COUNTY — The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro is reporting an going, two-county manhunt for fugitive John Adam Rillo, who escaped custody Friday morning in Richmond County while waiting to be picked up by federal authorities.

John Adam Rillo

John Adam Rillo

Reporter Mary Anderson writes that the area between Cemetery Road south of Candor in Montgomery County to Ellerbe in Richmond County has been saturated since about 10 a.m. on Friday with law enforcement, including helicopters and dogs.

Lt. Kelly  Howell, of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, told Anderson that Rillo’s last known address was on Cemetery Road in Montgomery County. It is the last road in the southern end of the county before entering Richmond County.

Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons and Chief Deputy Mark Gulledge have not yet responded to inquiries from The Pee Dee Post. What’s remains unclear is how, exactly, Rillo escaped custody.

Rillo was arrested in December by Richmond County sheriff’s deputies. Deputies originally responded to an Ellerbe home to investigate a reported shooting. However, no one was injured and the alleged shooting quickly turned into an investigation of a possible meth lab after Deputy L.D. Cowick noticed there were materials in plain sight consistent with manufacturing methamphetamines.

Rillo, a convicted felon, was arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of lithium metal — an immediate precursor chemical — with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, maintaining a house that was used for keeping and selling controlled substances and possession of methamphetamine.

Rillo also was charged with possession of two firearms, including a 9 mm Glock allegedly stolen from Jerry Rillo, and a .22 revolver.

John Rillo was previously convicted in April 2004 in Randolph County on felony possession of stolen goods and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

In December, he was confined to Richmond County Jail and held on a $35,000 secured bond.

Anyone who knows anything about Rillo’s whereabouts or sees him should call the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at 910-572-1313 or Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 910-895-3232.

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