COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Authorities in Maury County have located and arrested a convicted child molester listed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top 10 Most Wanted list.
According to investigators with the sheriff's department, 56-year-old John Eugene Cope admitted to authorities in Hamilton County in May that he molested a four-year-old child.
He was also convicted of child molestation in Georgia in 1985.
Authorities received a tip Monday night that Cope was staying with family in the Columbia area off Highway 7 near Knob Creek Road.
When officials went to the house to arrest him around 6:30 p.m., he fled out a back door and ran into the woods.
The search for Cope continued through the night.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol brought its helicopter to the scene and heat seeking devices were used.
The search continued until an alert citizen spotted Cope around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, recognized him from the news and called authorities.
Dawn Hendrix told News 2 she spotted him walking down the road on her way to work.
“So I was looking for him and we came by and we passed him and I'm like, ‘That's him' so I whipped off the road and called 9-1-1 and got them and refused to leave the area until I knew that they had him, he had to get off these roads, too many kids, he had to go,” Hendrix recalled.
Cope was taken to the Maury County Sheriff's Office where he will be held until Hamilton County authorities can pick him up.
He will be charged in Hamilton County with three counts of aggravated sexual battery of a four-year-old child.
Sheriff George said Hendrix will be given the $1,000 reward that was offered for information leading to his arrest.
The TBI said Cope was added to their Top 10 Most Wanted list last month.