EWING, Va. (AP) — A manhunt for a Tennessee homicide suspect is no longer focused on a county on the western edge of Virginia, authorities said Wednesday. But they declined to release further information “because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.”
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons said in a statement Wednesday evening that Jason Dockery was no longer in Virginia's westernmost county, which sits narrowly between Kentucky and Tennessee. No other details were provided.
"Once resolution of the investigation is completed Sheriff Parsons will provide another official update,” the statement concluded.
Dockery, 44, is suspected in a shooting death of a woman on Tuesday in Tennessee's Anderson County, which is outside Knoxville, authorities said. Dockery led police on a car chase that ended about 68 miles (109 kilometers) away that afternoon in Ewing, Virginia, where he abandoned his Chevrolet Sonic and fled into the woods.
A large manhunt ensued that involved several law enforcement agencies, including Virginia State Police and the National Park Service. The U.S. Marshals are offering a reward of up to a $5,000 for information that leads to Dockery’s capture.
Ewing is in the Appalachian Mountains near Virginia’s Wilderness Road State Park as well as Cumberland Gap National Park, which spans the borders of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Dockery was considered armed and dangerous and had urged residents to lock their homes and secure their vehicles. Some schools were also closed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Parsons told WCYB that “we're kind of surprised that we haven't heard anything at this point about some attempt to get food or transportation. So it's possible that the suspect has left the area.”
At 6:30 p.m., Parsons released a statement confirming that Dockery had left.
The sheriff's office in Anderson County, Tennessee, said in a statement that the fatal shooting occurred in the Heiskell area on Tuesday afternoon. Someone had called 911 to report that “a man had shot a woman while stopped on the side of the road,” the sheriff’s office said. The woman was later identified as Shystie Ranea Mayberry.
During the investigation, detectives began attempting to locate Dockery, while notifying surrounding law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for him, according to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.
Police began their pursuit of Dockery that afternoon in Tennessee's Claiborne County, which is near Anderson County and borders Virginia's Lee County.
Authorities said that Dockery, who lives in Knoxville, is also wanted for violations of probation for aggravated assault in Tennessee.
The Anderson County Sheriff's Office said it's processing Dockery's vehicle for evidence, while an autopsy is being performed on Mayberry's body.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim, and we are grateful for the assistance of so many other agencies,” Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker said in a statement.