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story.lead_photo.caption A map showing Sharp and Independence counties.

Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts let an inmate out of jail last month so he could go to church at a Bible-based ministry for people with addictions.

But Mark Adam Johnson, 29, of Batesville "ran off after church," according to an affidavit filed in Sharp County Circuit Court.

He wasn't gone for long.

Johnson's mother called the Sharp County jail in Ash Flat the next day and said her son was hiding in a house in Cave City, 22 miles to the south, the affidavit said.

Deputy Marc Boyd went there and found Johnson "hiding under some clothes in a closet," according to the affidavit.

Johnson was taken back to the jail, where he failed a drug test, indicating he had methamphetamine and THC -- the component of marijuana that produces a high -- in his system, according to the affidavit.

On Friday, Johnson was charged with felony escape.

Counts had let Johnson out of jail to attend church at John 3:16 Ministries, "a spiritual boot camp for men with addictions," according to its Facebook page.

The ministry is in Charlotte, 37 miles south of Ash Flat. It was founded in 2003 and is run on donations.

Among the requirements to be admitted to the program at John 3:16 Ministries, a man must be at "rock bottom," be willing to admit he has a problem with drugs or alcohol, and believe that God can heal him of addiction, according to the ministry's Facebook page.

But before getting an interview with the director, the applicant must attend a chapel service at the ministry.

An employee of John 3:16 Ministries told the sheriff's office that Johnson had attended church Sept. 3 with his parents, "but his dad was asked to leave because of his attitude," according to the affidavit.

Johnson was initially in jail on a felony theft of property charge.

According to an affidavit in the theft case, Johnson was accused of stealing a Kawasaki Mule that had broken down and was left on the side of the road.

Codi Scranton told Deputy Matthew Coggins that she woke up early on the morning of July 30 to a loud banging noise, according to the affidavit. She looked outside and saw Johnson and another person trying to strip parts from the four-wheeler, the affidavit said.

Scranton, who was not the vehicle's owner, told them it had been reported stolen, and they left in a hurry, according to the affidavit.

Johnson pleaded innocent in the theft case but has yet to enter a plea in the escape case, according to court records.

Counts couldn't be reached for comment Friday. Neither could Henry Boyce, the prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' 3rd Judicial Circuit.


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Metro on 10/14/2017

Print Headline: Inmate said to flee after church outing

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