June 24, 2017 – 9:41 am; Updated 6/29 1:43 pm to correct that the victim was not pregnant at the time of the abduction
Whereas the storyline sound as though it was lifted from a television drama, local law enforcement engaged in a two day pursuit of a suspect. Suspect Jimmy Morton, of Whitwell, was finally apprehended by Georgia State Patrol in Dade County, GA and booked on kidnapping and aggravated burglary. Several other charges are expected related to the suspect’s alluding and threatening law enforcement officers.
The genesis of the case was attributable to the kidnapping victim’s, Stephanie Diehl, father and Morton’s mother approaching Marion County Sheriff’s Department officers with text messages from Morton. In the texts, the suspect announced that he was aware that he was scheduled to appear in sessions court that day and had “taken” the victim. The text message also included information that Morton acknowledged that he had “really screwed up this time,” according to police reports. Morton allegedly forced his way into Diehl’s home while the victim’s father was away and took the victim for about forty-five minutes before returning her unharmed.
Later that same day, Morton’s abandoned car was found was near Ladd’s Mountain. The car was impounded by MCSD. A short time later, a report of a stolen vehicle in Haletown was investigated and it was ascertained that the suspect had taken the car. It would later be proven accurate as a MCSD detective witnessed the suspect driving the stolen vehicle the next evening in Jasper.
MCSD officers initiated pursuit of the suspect which led them on a high speed chance north on Highway 28 through Whitwell and into Sequatchie County. During the pursuit Morton contacted emergency dispatch and told dispatchers that he would start shooting at the pursuing officers if they did not “back off.” Pursuing officers would lose Morton in Sequatchie County but the suspect would be required later that night back in Marion County. Eventually, MCSD would find themselves back in pursuit, but this time the suspect would travel east on Interstate 24 where the suspect merged onto Interstate 59 south in Dade County where Georgia State Patrol were able to safely disable the fleeing vehicle.