Local pastor on Whitwell manhunt: “We are ready to move on.” - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

WHITWELL MANHUNT

Local pastor on Whitwell manhunt: “We are ready to move on.”

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

Numerous leads came in to authorities during the search, but the discovery of a church van this morning, that had been broken into, proved to be the clue that paid off.

Halfacre was spotted early Friday morning in Powell's Crossroads.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Halfacre captured after 5-day manhunt

Pastor Brent Upchurch says this is the first time his church has ever been broken into.

The church does have a security system set up. Upchurch believes it's what stopped Halfacre from going inside the building.

“There are sensors all through the church on doors and motion detectors, so there's no place he can come inside the church without being detected,” Pastor Upchurch says.

Pastor Brent Upchurch says he had a feeling his church would be targeted by Dewayne Halfacre.

“You know you go to somebody's house you get shot, you break into a church or a building like this usually people are not sitting in church,” Upchurch says. “You know it's a place you can find shelter.”

READ MORE | UPDATE: Marion County suspect still on the loose Tuesday night

Around 3:30 Friday morning, that feeling became reality.

Upchurch says he got a call from his security company, but he didn't recognize the number.

“I said I'll just let it ring,” Upchurch says. “I said I'll get the message a little later and then they tried to call my wife at the same number and then I knew it was something serious.”

The company reported someone tried to break-in through the church's side door.

When Upchurch arrived, he says he noticed the van was damaged. You can see the van's ignition switch was tampered with and the door was left wide open.

From there police K-9's tracked Halfacre's scent to a vacant home less than a mile away.

READ MORE | Suspect in Marion County manhunt survives outdoors for 5 days

    Upchurch says it's what everyone has been waiting for.

    “We are ready to move on,” Upchurch says. “I think we can come together as a community and get stronger and even be more prepared.”

    Upchurch says he's grateful no one was hurt.

    He says the van's repairs will cost around $500.

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