Inmate back in custody after 1998 escape

Donovan Johnson. (WAW | Contributed)

After 19 years on the run, a Greene County inmate is back in custody a week after an anonymous tip was submitted to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO).

Donovan Johnson was arrested in 1996 on one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count of first-degree receiving stolen property. He escaped from the Greene County Jail in 1998, along with three other inmates, while awaiting trial for the 1996 murder of Ollie Henderson in the Mt. Hebron community.

According to Chief Deputy Jeremy Rancher with the GCSO, the office received a tip last week that pointed to Johnson living in the Chicago area.

“Based on the information from this tip, we were able to determine that there was a high probability that this tip was credible. During the course of the investigation, we learned that Johnson was using an alias of Phillip Thomas,” said Rancher.

On Friday, May 12,  at approximately 3:30 p.m., Johnson was taken into custody without incident in Chicago by the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force.

Johnson was transported back to Greene County on May 16 by agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and Chief Deputy Rancher.

“This is a prime example of what can be achieved when we all work together as a team,” said Rancher. “We would like to thank all of the local, state, and federal agencies that assisted us with this very important matter.”