Fugitives from the law will stop at nothing to evade their pursuers. They drive across borders, alter their physical appearance, and develop layers of fake identities to put as much distance between them and the bounty hunters and law enforcement officials responsible for bringing them to justice. However, in the case of Joseph Leonard Newman, even a continent’s worth of distance was not enough of a buffer to keep him out of the hands of bounty hunter Mike Phoebus
Newman’s tale started in 2010. He was arrested in Culpeper County, Virginia at the age of 62 for dealing and distributing a variety of controlled narcotics. Against the wishes of the prosecuting attorney, Newman was released on $15,000 bail and promptly disappeared, never to be seen again in Culpeper.
He fled to Maryland, and was followed by a host of hunters. Careful work on Newman’s part kept his pursuers at bay, and he was able to avoid them there for a few years before disappearing entirely. Dead end after dead end left most hunters frustrated, and the trail grew colder and colder. Mike Phoebus on the other hand saw it as a challenge.
Phoebus heard about the case when a friend of his hit a wall chasing Newman. Phoebus’ experience doing investigative work and his time in the military led him to believe that he might have a fighting chance of chasing down Newman.
“Sometimes a dead end is not really a dead end,” said the Fredericksburg based Phoebus. “Sometimes, rather than giving up at a dead end, you just have to branch out.”
Branching out from there, Phoebus was able to find his way across the country to a small town near Palmdale, California. Newman settled in the community and maintained a fairly inconspicuous life. The town was built around a gas station and had three houses, an innocuous place that no one ever noticed or would think to look in.
For Phoebus, it just made things easier. Everyone there knew everyone. Phoebus questioned a resident who said he had heard Newman bragging about evading the law. From there, Phoebus was able to track down Newman’s girlfriend. Her information led right to Newman’s door. While it was difficult to find where Newman had fled to, once Phoebus was able to track him to the Palmdale area, the town’s small size made it easier to gather information about Newman
While it is still unclear whether Newman will be extradited to Virginia or serve out the rest of his sentence in California, justice will finally be served thanks to Mike Phoebus’ hard work and dedication to finding his man.