James "Mike" Hert

After almost a week of searching Martin County authorities have captured a man who walked away from home detention. Martin County Sheriff Travis Roush reports James “Mike” Hert, 56, Shoals, was captured in a wooded grove north of Shoals on Wednesday.

The sheriff’s department had been looking for Hert since he cut off his home monitoring ankle bracelet and ran off. Hert was on a pre-trial detention for his arrest earlier in the year for possession of methamphetamine.

“About the first 12 hours we thought he had left the state,” said Sheriff Roush. “Then we started getting reports of sightings of him around Shoals.”

Roush says that the search for Hert became very manpower intensive. “Each time we got a call we would gather all the deputies and reserves and go look for him,” said Roush.

The sheriff’s department received multiple reports and each time sent out deputies and they came back empty handed even though they were often able to get close to him. “He didn’t have access to a vehicle,” said Roush. “He was moving around in the woods. He has lived in the woods before and is comfortable in the woods.”

The final tip led Roush and two deputies into the woods north of Shoals where they again spent several hours trying to locate Hert. “We tracked him through a woods and found where he had crossed a stream,” said Roush. “We lost him at a road, but we just kept looking and eventually located him in a grove of trees not far from a mobile home.”

Authorities say the capture was a relief to them and apparently to Hert. “We didn’t think he was dangerous, but with the weather turning cooler we were worried about him trying to get inside and get warm and winding up in a confrontation with someone,” said Roush. “He surrendered without any trouble. He didn’t give us any attitude. He looked really tired. I don’t believe he had thought this thing out.”

Hert was arrested on a Martin County warrant for escape. Authorities say they found about a half gram of what appears to be methamphetamine and could face an additional charge of possession of methamphetamine.

He was taken to the Martin County Jail where he is now being held without bond.

“He are really relieved to have him in custody,” said Roush. “We have a small team, and this put a lot of strain on the department. It was really the public’s eyes and their tips that led to his capture.”

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