Florida

Runaway sex offender grabbed near home three days after absconding

Absconded sex offender captured in Sebring, Florida

Gary Lee Ebersole, who police say cut his ankle monitoring bracelet to evade authorities, was captured in Sebring, FL.
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Gary Lee Ebersole, who police say cut his ankle monitoring bracelet to evade authorities, was captured in Sebring, FL.

Convicted sex offender Gary Ebersole grabbed a head start on Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies when he decided to cut (his ankle monitor) and run Monday morning. Storms hampered the search Wednesday.

Perhaps the weather hampered Ebersole’s mobility, too. After three days, deputies and deputy dogs found the Lorida resident Thursday morning at 9:33 just east of that small Highlands County town, in a wet, wooded area.

Highland County Sheriff’s Office said Ebersole, 46, got chased into a palmetto patch just off U.S. 98. When he refused to come out, Remco, a Belgian Malinois patrol dog, went in and grabbed a leg. Remco held on until his human partners could complete the capture.

Ebersole, convicted in 1997 of lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor under 16, knew a recent urine test would reveal a violation of the probation he got after he didn’t properly register as a sex offender back in 2014. He cut off his ankle monitor at a Sebring gas station, which deputies discovered when they arrived at the gas station.

A search that included Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel ensued. Now, Ebersole’s going back to jail on a probation violation, tampering with an electronic monitoring device, grand theft of the ankle monitor and failure to report vacating his permanent residence.

Ebersole has also done prison time for grand theft and failure to comply with sex offender requirements.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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