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Six-week manhunt ends at motel

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John Essex captured after fleeing on July 11

Victoria Aldrich
The Advocate-Messenger

An alleged Springfield drug dealer is behind bars at the Boyle County Detention Center after a month-long manhunt.

U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force members arrested 51-year-old John Michael Essex last Monday night at an unnamed Nicholasville motel, according to Boyle County Sheriff Marty Elliott.

“They called for local agencies for assistance,” Elliott said. Boyle and Mercer county deputies, Kentucky State Police troopers and Nicholasville police responded.

Elliott requested task force assistance earlier this month after local efforts stalled. Essex lists his address as 50 Pleasant Drive in Springfield, according to arrest reports, but was believed to have been living in Salvisa after July 11, Elliott said earlier this month.

Task force members tracked Essex from northern Florida to Nicholasville, where he was found in possession of narcotics and a weapon.

A woman also may have been staying in the motel with him, Elliott said.

“Due to his history of threats to police and the public, we advised them not to stop him,” Elliott said.

The search for Essex began on July 11 after he fled an attempted traffic stop during a drug interdiction about 12:30 a.m. near Old Stanford Road and U.S. 150.

Officers pursued Essex along Chrisman Lane and Ky. 52 before Essex dead-ended on Clifton Road, where he turned around and attempted to ram their cruisers, Elliott said.

Police found a gun holster, an ounce of crystal methamphetamine and scales in his Monte Carlo after Essex crashed it through several fences and abandoned it.

Hours earlier, Essex was indicted in Mercer County for trafficking in marijuana and methamphetamine, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and buying or possessing drug paraphernalia stemming from a Jan. 27 arrest.

Essex also was wanted in Anderson County for falsely providing his brother’s personal identification during a traffic stop on March 14 for an improper signal and driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Essex is in the Boyle County Detention Center on $32,000 bond, facing charges of first-degree trafficking in methamphetamine, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and trafficking in marijuana, all second offense or higher.

He also faces charges of failure to appear, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, buying or possessing drug paraphernalia, contempt of court/libel/slander/resistance to order, failure to or improper signal, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and giving an officer a false name or address.

Essex has amassed dozens of charges across Kentucky, most drug-related, including a 2008 Boyle County charge of endangering the life of a police officer while eluding officers during an arrest for methamphetamine production and drug trafficking. The charge was one of 18 amassed in that incident.

A convicted felon caught possessing a weapon typically faces a five-year penalty, Elliott said. Due to Essex’s history of weapons possession and alleged threats to murder local officers, Elliott said the task force has advised authorities to pursue federal charges through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The task force also has advised pursuing persistent offender status, Elliott said, adding seven years to any potential sentences.