Tip leads to arrest of Sullivan County murder suspect after three day manhunt

SULLIVAN CO, TN (WJHL) – An accused murderer is in jail tonight after spending the past three days on the run from Tri-Cities police.

Investigators captured Johnny Royston, Jr. on Emmett Road Monday night at 10 p.m. after police spent days trying to track him down for the shooting death of 44-year-old Rowdy Yates.

Just minutes before the capture, an observant caller who recognized the suspect reached out to police.

“They called in and said that a guy had knocked on their door trying to find his way to Bristol Caverns Highway,” Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson said. “He said that he lived there but he didn’t know how to get back home… and he had a long knife on his side, a hunting knife. That really ended the whole investigation right there that one phone call.”

When authorities found Royston, they said he was with his friend, Donald Hammonds, in the passenger seat of a black Honda.

Anderson said Hammonds could face charges for helping Royston.

“We just don’t know how he made that connection that quick, you know from asking these people how to get back and then minutes later, literally minutes later, he’s in the car with this friend of his and they are trying to get away,” Anderson said.

Investigators said the duo managed to drive into a nearby field, before the driver Hammonds floored it, aiming straight for officers’ cars and slamming right into them. Anderson said no deputies were injured.

“The officers got out of the car real quick and placed them both under arrest,” Anderson said.

As the investigation continues, Sheriff Anderson said he is thankful to get Royston behind bars.

“He was an extreme danger to the public and just thank God nothing happened, he didn’t hurt anybody else in the process,” he said.

Hammonds right now faces several charges including drug charges and aggravated assault.

Royston is charged with second degree murder and drug possession.

A judge set Royston’s bond for $300,000 Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to appear back in court July 18.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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