GILMAN, Ill. (WCIA) — Law enforcement pulled out all of the stops to find a fugitive in Gilman, including using some unusual methods to look for him.
The search for Joel Smith came to an end late Thursday evening when he was arrested. After fleeing from Gilman’s train station Wednesday afternoon following a sexual assault, Smith was the subject of a manhunt that lasted 36 hours and involved over 75 members of law enforcement.
Among other things, law enforcement personnel with binoculars perched themselves atop various pieces of farming equipment, lent to them by farmers, to get a higher view of the surrounding cornfields; the Iroquois County Sheriff said they had never done that before. Eastern Illini Electric Co-op also provided three of their bucket boom trucks for law enforcement to use. Personnel on the ground roamed the fields with K9s to search for Smith while a helicopter and drones were used to get an even higher view.
Dozens of bystanders watched the manhunt unfold. A group of workers from out of Gilman who were there for work said they had never seen anything like it while on the job.
“We just seen a bunch people, cops and lights, and helicopters and sprayers show up out of nowhere,” David Henry said.
The search intensified on Thursday after Smith was seen buying a drink at K&H Truck Plaza. A warrant for his arrest was issued in the hours after, charging him with criminal sexual assault and setting bond at $2 million.
Upon his arrest, law enforcement took Smith to the Iroquois County Jail.