Clay County man has been arrested after crime spree that sheriff says ‘sounds like a novel’

Timothy Lawson
Timothy Lawson

The litany of crimes police say a Clay County man committed over the past week and a half “sounds like a novel,” Sheriff Kevin Johnson said.

And Johnson said he’s relieved to have Timothy Lawson behind bars.

“He has stolen 10 cars since the 21st,” Johnson said. “He’s just been on a crime spree.”

Johnson said the saga began in Owsley County on July 21, when Lawson robbed “an elderly lady” at her home.

“He held a shotgun on her,” Johnson said, and took her car.

That car didn’t last long, though, because Lawson wrecked it.

Johnson said Lawson, 29, then pulled the shotgun on some people in a second car and took it from them.

His luck ran out again when the second stolen car had engine trouble in Clay County.

But, the sheriff said, Lawson didn’t remain stranded.

He was bleeding from a cut to his forehead that he got when he crashed the first stolen vehicle, and some sympathetic passersby in a pickup truck stopped when he flagged them down.

“He’s asking for help,” Johnson says. “He jumps in their truck and then takes off.”

Lawson turned up in again Clay County on Wednesday night, when Johnson said a homeowner came home to find Lawson burglarizing his residence.

Lawson locked him in a closet and took his wallet, gun and pickup truck, Johnson said.

Law enforcement officers pursued Johnson into Owsley County after that and engaged in a manhunt, but Lawson managed to evade them, the sheriff said.

On Friday morning, Lawson stole another vehicle in Owsley County, shooting at the owners in the process, Johnson said.

He said Lawson then drove back to Clay County to the area where his mother and stepfather live. A state police trooper saw Lawson and pursued him, and Johnson said “the manhunt began again.”

After a hunt that Johnson said lasted 35 hours, officers arrested Lawson Saturday when his stepfather detained him in the Oneida area.

Johnson said there may have been other crimes in another county as well, but he didn’t have the details on that.

The Manchester Enterprise reported that armed residents of Owsley County were so fed up with the criminal activity, they were out hunting Lawson themselves.

“I’m not telling you my name, but If I see him he’s dead,” the newspaper reported that a man with a .357 pistol told them. “This isn’t a game anymore. You don’t break in on people and steal cars and expect to get away with it. We’re tired of living in fear.”

Lawson was being held Saturday night in the Clay County Detention Center. His charges include first-degree robbery, kidnapping an adult, first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree fleeing or evading police in a motor vehicle, two counts of first-degree fleeing or evading police on foot, four counts of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, three counts of burglary, criminal mischief and fraudulent use of a credit card.