Two-hour Rankin County manhunt ends with one in custody

Justin Kunkle, 35, arrested and charged for motor vehicle theft

RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – After a two hour manhunt, Rankin County Deputies and Pelahatchie Police arrest a man wanted for stealing a utility company’s bucket truck.

According to Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, the suspect stole the truck from a Richland business over the weekend.

Around 11:45 a.m. on Monday, deputies received a call about the vehicle being left on I-20 near the 72 mile marker – that’s east of Pelahatchie. Deputies secured the vehicle but did not see the suspect.

Shortly after, Pelahatchie Police got a report of a man, dressed in all black, who’d walked up to a service station in need of gas. When officers responded to the service station, the man took off into a wooded area near Highway 43 and I-20, according to Sheriff Bailey.

Rankin County Deputies used a K9 tracking team, an Unmanned Aircraft System and their Mounted Patrol Until to help search for the suspect, who’s been identified as Justin Kunkle, 35.

As deputies searched off Old Wire Road, the property owner’s wife saw a man matching Kunkle’s description. Almost immediately after the suspect was spotted, he was taken into custody.

We’re told Kunkle did not have any identification on him at the time of his arrest. At first, according to Sheriff Bailey, Kunkle would not cooperate with them. Eventually, the suspect told authorities who he was. He’s now being charged by the Richland Police Department with motor vehicle theft, and he is being held in the Rankin County Jail with a $100,000 bond.

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