It was an emotional Clarendon County sheriff who took the podium at a press conference Tuesday morning to announce that the 18-hour manhunt for the two-year-old boy abducted Monday afternoon by his father was over and that the toddler who had a few cuts and bruises, had been reunited with his mother and step-sister.
“I can stand here all day and tell you what this feels like but until (Clarendon County Investigator) Donnie Drose put that two-year-old boy in my pickup truck and we got him to the hospital, there is not a better feeling in the world,” said Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett at the press conference. “These men and women behind me feel it too. It doesn’t get any better than that. That’s what it’s about. That’s what we do. Just telling you, it’s a great feeling,” he added, motioning to more than a dozen law enforcement officers from various agencies that stood behind him.
Garrett said that Brandon Lee DuBose of Sumter was in custody for the abduction of his son, Brandon Lee DuBose II, and was being interviewed by authorities.
The manhunt was well into the 17th hour when a local farmer notified Garrett and law enforcement personnel at the command post that a four-wheeler had been stolen off his farm approximately a mile away.
Garrett said they converged on the farm, found the four-wheeler and began a grid search of the area. Garrett said an agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division searched the cab/sleeper area of an abandoned tractor-trailer on the farmer’s property and found the father and toddler.
“He didn’t resist,” Garrett said. “He wasn’t going anywhere. Both sides of that truck were covered.”
The farm where DuBose was arrested is located just off S.C. 261 between Nazarene Church and Panola roads in Sumter County.
“I thanked God for answering my prayer,” the 38-year veteran of law enforcement said with tears in his eyes. “That’s what I did. Everybody else did too.”
DuBose faces multiple charges including failure to stop for blue lights and sirens and child endangerment, the sheriff said. Garrett said it is still too early in the investigation to determine what exact charges would be filed against DuBose.
Garrett said he is also considering charging DuBose for assaulting the toddler’s 11-year-old stepsister, who attempted to stop DuBose from abducting the boy early Monday afternoon.
Garrett said DuBose was currently out of jail in Sumter County on a $5,000 bond for allegedly assaulting his common law wife, the two-year-old’s mother, and sending her to the hospital just 11 days before abducting his son.
Since being released on bond, Garrett said Dubose “stalked those children and her. He sent text messages about what he intended to do to that child. It was all about inflicting pain on her. He carried the child into the swamp and put the child at risk.”
The abduction began to unfold around 1:30 p.m. Monday when a Clarendon County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop DuBose’s vehicle after being dispatched to the scene of a possible kidnapping. The deputy reported hearing DuBose say he wouldn’t be arrested before DuBose sped west on S.C. 261 toward Paxville.
While in pursuit, the deputy radioed that he could see the toddler being flung about in the truck. At that time, Garrett said he radioed the deputy to “back off,” but remain close enough to watch the vehicle.
Less than one mile out of Pinewood, the deputy reported losing site of the truck. Eight minutes later, the deputy and other pursuing law enforcement officers reported finding DuBose’s truck abandoned in a cornfield and the manhunt was underway.
Seeing the mother break down in tears and the joyous look on her face when he handed her son to her was well worth being up more than 30 hours and working through the day and night to find the child, Garrett added.
“It was all worth it,” he said.
“It’s all about the baby,” Garrett added. “Even when we were chasing him and didn’t know if he was with the baby or not, he was secondary. From the beginning to the end, it was about the child.”
Along with officers from the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office, officers with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, Florence County Sheriff’s Office, Manning Police Department, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the S.C. Highway Patrol, the State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided in the manhunt along with a SLED helicopter and tracking dogs. The Clarendon County Fire Department also assisted.
Garrett said the success of the manhunt was due to the teamwork from all the various agencies as well as Clarendon County Administrator/Attorney David Epperson.
“He came out last night,” Garrett added. “Whatever we needed, our county administrator was there.”
For the latest information on the DuBose arrest, logon to www.clarendoncitizen.com.