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280 Winchester Dr.
Hamilton, AL 35570

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07/29/2015

Texas fugitive
Texas fugitive
 
By Chad Fell
Senior Reporter
 
Shane Whitten.jpeg
Bear Creek Chief of Police Shane Whitten holding Evidence
 
  Joshua Harned.jpg  Harned
 
 
                 Elijah Neal Schleter.JPG               Destiny Nichole Hallmark.JPG
                                        Schleter                                                     Hallmark
 
The Article, Chief Whitten Photo, and Harned Photo Contributed by The Northwest Alabamian
 
BEAR CREEK   -  A Texas fugitive sought by the U.S. Marshal's Office was found at a Bear Creek residence Monday night, July 20, where he and two local residents were taken into custody, along with one of the largest rock forms of methamphetamine ever discovered in the area - 37 total grams - and $3,700 worth of drugs seized.
 
The fugitive, Joshua Lyle Harned, 31, of Laneville, Texas, was taken into custody and escorted from the scene by U.S. Marshals, with plans to extradict him back to Texas.
 
Harned was charged by Bear Creek Police with trafficking meth, possession of a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia and chemical endangerment of a child, according to Bear Creek Police Chief Shane Whitten.
 
The chemical endangerment charges resulted from a nine-month-old girl present at the residence where the meth and other drugs were found, Whitten said.
 
The Department of Human Resources is involved in the case, with the child now in the custody of a family member, according to police.
 
Once Harned answers charges he faces in Texas, he will have to answer the charges he now faces in Bear Creek, Chief Whitten stated.
 
Two others at the residence  at the time the search warrant was conducted, around 6:30 p.m.,  were also charged. They are Elijah Neal Schleter, 19, and Destiny Nichole Hallmark, 19, both of 119 Phillips Road, where the search warrant was handed out.  Both were charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and chemical endangerment of a child, Whitten added.
 
Schleter and Hallmark were transported from the scene to the Marion County Jail in Hamilton, where each as of press time faced bonds totaling $15,500, police said.
 
Whitten noted the U.S. Marshall's  office had a warrant on Harned from Texas, where he was wanted in connection with drugs and weapons.
 
U.S. Marshals had obtained knowledge of Harned's whereabouts, leading them, accompanied by Bear Creek Police,  to a manufactured home on Phillips Road.
 
Inside the residence,  a backpack belonging to the suspect was found containing  several glass meth pipes with residue and a large rock or ice form of meth measuring about 29.02 grams, according to Whitten.
 
"That's by far the biggest I've ever seen," Whitten said. "It's obviously a great hit to get that off the street."
 
This rock form of meth, found in a plastic bag, had a street value of $2,900, authorities said.
Also found in the backpack were Q-tips, a set of digital scales and several small bags used to package illegal drugs, Whitten noted.
 
In the master bedroom area were several water bongs for smoking meth, a black case containing two plastic bags of solid meth--one bag containing about three grams, the second bag containing 1.58 grams, police said.
 
Also found were two small plastic bags containing marijuana--2.38 grams in two plastic bags, as well as a meth crack pipe containing residue, police said.
 
"At that residence, I think they were using and selling," Whitten stated.
 
In the bathroom, where Harned was reportedly taking a shower when authorities entered, was found a black bag containing two small bags of the ice form of meth--one bag at 2.68 grams, the other bag .16 grams, Whitten calculated.
 
Also found were two glass meth pipes with residue and a cut straw containing residue, according to authorities.
 
A back bedroom closet contained a Marlin 30-30 rifle and a Marlin .22 rifle, Whitten said.
 
Inside a 2014 Chevrolet 1500 truck parked outside the residence was a loaded Ruger 357 Magnum, he added. 
 
Paperwork has been filed to seize the vehicle, cash and guns. If so, they will be in the custody of the Bear Creek Police Department with the cash benefitting the police department fund, Whitten said.
 
Found inside Harned's wallet was $331 in cash, believed by authorities to be proceeds from illegal drug sales, authorities said.
 
"First of all, I appreciate the U.S. Marshals for their assistance," Chief Whitten pointed out, also expressing his appreciation to Haleyville Police Lt. Tim Steien and the police department for their assistance.
 
"My opinion is it's going to be the biggest rock or one solid size (of ice meth) we've found in Bear Creek since I've been here," Whitten said.
 
"All I could say was, "wow" when I saw it," he added. "Any day you can get drugs off the street is great. Any day you can get  a size like that is even better.
 
"I think (Harned) was bringing drugs from Texas here," Whitten pointed out. "Anytime, you have the U.S. Marshal's Office involved, it's pretty serious. 
 
"Texas was wanting him pretty bad."
 
All of the confiscated drugs and paraphernalia will be sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science for further analysis.
 
Harned Faces Texas Grand Jury Indictment
 
Harned faced charges on a warrant not only from the U.S. Marshal's Office but the Rusk County Sheriff's Office in Texas, where he faces a grand jury indictment on manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance with an amount equal to 200 grams but less than 400 grams, according to a sheriff's office representative.
 
As of press time, Harned had not been extradicted back to Texas to answer charges there, since he had been taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal's Office, officials indicated.
 
"As long as he's in custody, that's the main thing," the Rusk County Sheriff's Office representative said.
 
Harned has been involved in one of the biggest busts the Rusk County Sheriff's Office has ever made, involving  4 1/2 pounds of marijuana. 
 
Other reports from Texas indicate Harned was arrested a separate time in connection with the seizure of a half pound of meth.
 
*When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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