Been in trouble with the law since the day he was born
March 6, 2009 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Remember the guy who escaped a prison transport, led police on a five state chase across the south, stole a Wal-Mart truck to get to his dying mama, and then took off in Crystal Gale's tour bus before being apprehended in Florida? He's at it again.
posted by Roman Graves (57 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Coffee County, Tenn., Capt. Donnie Thomas

If you've ever been to Coffee County, this story will not be a surprise for you.
posted by nola at 5:01 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Knowing his mom was dying, the 5-foot-5, 140 pound Gay escaped from a prisoner transport in January 2007 at a welcome center on the Alabama line...

Yeeeee-ha! Welcome to Alabama, boy!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:02 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


disclaimer: I have never heard anyone in Alabama ever actually say "yeeeee-ha".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:03 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having spent much time in Coffee County, I can confirm nola's comment.
posted by vibrotronica at 5:10 PM on March 6, 2009


I'm glad they already turned this into a country song, because if they didn't, I'd have to.
posted by Space Kitty at 5:13 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, as long as he harms no one, I'm kinda rooting for this dude. Every once in a while, society needs someone to give the finger to The Man, just to remind The Man that he's not as badass as he thinks.
posted by jamstigator at 5:16 PM on March 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


So, am I the only one who finds it an odd coincidence that a man named "Chris Gay" stole Crystal Gayle's your bus?
posted by dersins at 5:18 PM on March 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by nola at 5:19 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


...is remarkable for its "Smokey & The Bear" allure
If I'm not mistaken, I think Smokey is the Bear.
posted by Sailormom at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


"The details of Gay's Houdini-like escape – a wily thief up against a veteran small-town Tennessee deputy – is remarkable for its 'Smokey & The Bear' allure at a time when outlaws are found mostly online."

Smokey and the Bear? Surely they meant Smokey and the Bandit.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sailormom and I will straighten this all out.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:24 PM on March 6, 2009


Or BJ and the Bear.
posted by dersins at 5:24 PM on March 6, 2009


Thank god you guys are on this for us.
posted by mwhybark at 5:27 PM on March 6, 2009


The details of Gay's Houdini-like escape – a wily thief up against a veteran small-town Tennessee deputy – is remarkable for its "Smokey & The Bear" allure at a time when outlaws are found mostly online.
What.
posted by jtron at 5:30 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unlike Eric Rudolph, the convicted Olympics bomber who eluded a massive FBI dragnet in the western North Carolina mountains for five years, Gay's favorable reputation is heavily tied to his nonviolent demeanor.
So people liked Eric Rudolph... because of his violent demeanor? Because of his battles against 'the homosexual agenda'? Help me out here, Christian Science Monitor.
posted by jtron at 5:34 PM on March 6, 2009


They could also have meant Smokey and the Bandit.
posted by JHarris at 5:35 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure his mustache is the source of his power.
posted by ob at 5:35 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Smokey & The Bear"

With the last name of gay and the mustache I'm guessing he's the bear, so who the hell is smokey?
posted by ob at 5:37 PM on March 6, 2009


OK, wait a minute, hold everything.

Crystal Gayle is still touring?
posted by nanojath at 5:40 PM on March 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


So, am I the only one who finds it an odd coincidence that a man named "Chris Gay" stole Crystal Gayle's your bus?

And so, little by little, piece by piece, Gay's brilliant master plan for world domination reveals itself. When all is revealed, we will stand breathless, in awe of his monumental criminal achievement. Of course, by then, we'll all be toiling in his underground laboratories, deep beneath the northern Alabaman foothills.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:45 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Somehow starting from nola's link I ended up here
posted by needled at 5:46 PM on March 6, 2009


Crystal Gayle is still touring?

Not without her bus, she ain't.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:46 PM on March 6, 2009 [58 favorites]


Having grown up split between rural Alabama and rural Tennessee (in the next county over from Coffee) and having attended the finest liberal arts institution in Mississippi, I can confirm that I have not only heard people scream "yee-haw" but I may have participated a time or two. I may have even done so in Coffee County (probably just after firing an armor piercing bullet from an assault rifle through the engine block of an abandoned car, there may have been some drinking involved).
posted by Pollomacho at 6:00 PM on March 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


I RTFLA but for the life of me can't figure out what this guy did specifically to get himself arrested in the first place. They just mention various cons. What did he do originally before all his escaping and running?

Oh and needled (or anyone else), I have most of the Muppet series on VHS due to an ill-advised late night Time/Warner spontaneous purchase. Many of them still shrink wrapped. They can be for sale if anyones interested. Though no one probably needs them with the Toobs and all.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 6:01 PM on March 6, 2009


Not without her bus, she ain't.

Hands down the funniest line I've ever read on this site.
posted by ornate insect at 6:05 PM on March 6, 2009


MarvinTheCat, he conned a tow truck into stealing a bulldozer, because you know, those are easy to fence.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:26 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Blues Brothers are back, baby!
posted by -harlequin- at 6:44 PM on March 6, 2009


From the Eric Rudolph Wikipedia entry:

On March 7, 1998, Rudolph's older brother, Daniel, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with a radial arm saw in order to, in his words, "send a message to the FBI and the media."

He totally retroactively stole that idea from us.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:48 PM on March 6, 2009


he's been watching too much Annie. Next he'll spend a week in a mansion with a bald dude and get adopted even though tim curry will try to swindle the hairless millionaire.
posted by nadawi at 6:52 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks, now I have Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue playing a loop in my mind.
posted by Duke999R at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2009


In a time of darkness, ONE MAN struggled for freedom. And a tour bus. And his mama.

I would go see this movie.
posted by emjaybee at 7:10 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I may have even done so in Coffee County (probably just after firing an armor piercing bullet from an assault rifle through the engine block of an abandoned car, there may have been some drinking involved).

You really have been to Coffee County.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:11 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


What did he do originally before all his escaping and running?

Stealing construction equipment is the only specific thing I see. I also notice that although he's never been known to have a gun and has never hurt anyone, he's labeled "armed and dangerous" and Kennesaw State University went on "lockdown" when someone reported seeing him there.
posted by frobozz at 7:11 PM on March 6, 2009


Bless his heart. I hope he gets away. I do. I can't believe he got that close to his momma and still didn't get to say goodbye.

And the "armed and dangerous"? They did that so they can kill him when they see him. That's all that is. A license for them to gun him down.
posted by dejah420 at 7:37 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass.
posted by vronsky at 7:38 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass.

No, no, that's ok. I think by all rubrics this is in fact the very essence of country.
posted by ob at 8:10 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


...by all rubrics this is in fact the very essence of country.

Well, it's at least a little bit rock and roll...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


oh goddamit flapjax, if you are going to start quoting Donny and Marie lyrics, then... I don't know what.
posted by vronsky at 8:20 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


well, i work with a guy who screams YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! everytime we let out for the weekend - and we're not anywhere near the south

we sure as hell don't need a whistle for the factory with him around
posted by pyramid termite at 8:23 PM on March 6, 2009


if you are going to start quoting Donny and Marie lyrics, then... I don't know what.

i'm leaving it all up to you
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Gay is seen by friends as a Robin Hood-like criminal who has given $100 bills to homeless people and cooked dinner for hungry neighborhood kids, even mowing his mother-in-law' s grass and watering her roses.

This part cracked me up. Helping out his mother-in-law is even more heroic and noteworthy than giving away $100 bills to the homeless and feeding the poor.
posted by JenMarie at 8:26 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was just mildly amused, until I read this: "Though there's no evidence that Gay has a gun, authorities have labeled him as "armed and dangerous."

That does it. If I ever have the chance to help this guy out - especially if it means "aiding and abetting", I'll do it. Slim and none chance of that ever happening, but I've pretty much had it up to here with overbearing law enforcement, and criminally overzealous prosecutors.
posted by Xoebe at 9:09 PM on March 6, 2009


I can't believe he got that close to his momma and still didn't get to say goodbye.

Wahl ... butter my butt, and call me a biscuit. I like to spit mah grits when I done read that. That boy’s more slippery 'n' snot on a glass doorknob. But dawggonnit ... the idear o' stealin' a Wal Mart Tractor Trailer to go see yore dyin' mama after you done 'scape from poleece custody is dumber 'n a trap door in a canoe. That dawg dont hunt, 'cause tha one shore place the poleece are gonna be fixin' to stake out is yore mama's trailer, boy. That trailer wooda bin hotter 'n Satan's house cat. Jewed thank that boy'd done have more sense. That'll jar his preserves, shore nuff.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:20 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Touched by Gay's attempt to see his mother. Coopertown, Tenn., police chief Dave Barrera made it known that Gay could see Annie one last time if he turned himself in, a reunion that never happened.

Between taking him back into custody and then not letting him see his dying mother after all, and labeling him armed and dangerous when he doesn't have a weapon, I'm rooting for the guy to get away or at least to embarrass the hell out of them before they catch him again.
posted by CheshireCat at 9:36 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Helping out his mother-in-law is even more heroic and noteworthy than giving away $100 bills to the homeless and feeding the poor.

Yeah, well, ya'll ain't never see'd his momma-in-lawr...
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 10:34 PM on March 6, 2009


Capt. Thomas, a 35-year-veteran, almost refused to come back to Tennessee until he caught up with Gay, says Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves.

Bad call, dude. You shoulda fought and pissed and moaned and spit until they let you chase Chris Gay across the country. Forget about a future in law enforcement; you gotta be thinking about what you're bringing to the table at Book Deal negotiation time.

When this situation reaches its inevitable jug-band backed fourteen-vehicle chase of a conclusion between the rides at Dollywood, you're gonna want to be there. When Chris Gay jumps his stolen stock car/dirtbike/Kentucky Derby winner off that SWAT van roof and onto the back of the moving train, you're gonna be awful sore you let other cops put you off the hunt.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:25 AM on March 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


In case I were to ever receive a life sentence or similar "game over" type of penalty, I would hope I'd have the balls to go out in a blaze of glory, balls to the wall, rebel-yellin' type of chase like this. Honestly, if your life as you know it is over, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being the star of the greatest episode (or preferably an epic multi-episode arc) of COPS ever filmed.

Necessary equipment would include a CB radio, intimate knowledge of Southern backroads, and the complete works of Waylon Jennings (especially with a roof-mounted PA, ala The Blues Brothers.

I miss the South.
posted by gam zeh yaavor at 12:46 AM on March 7, 2009


Wahl ... butter my butt, and call me a biscuit. I like to spit mah grits when I done read that. That boy’s more slippery 'n' snot on a glass doorknob. But dawggonnit ... the idear o' stealin' a Wal Mart Tractor Trailer to go see yore dyin' mama after you done 'scape from poleece custody is dumber 'n a trap door in a canoe. That dawg dont hunt, 'cause tha one shore place the poleece are gonna be fixin' to stake out is yore mama's trailer, boy. That trailer wooda bin hotter 'n Satan's house cat. Jewed thank that boy'd done have more sense. That'll jar his preserves, shore nuff.

I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and guess you've never been south of the mason dixon.
posted by nola at 1:39 AM on March 7, 2009 [17 favorites]


. . . and watching Deliverance on TCM doesn't count.
posted by nola at 1:46 AM on March 7, 2009


"What he done was wrong, but he knows his mama don't have long," his mother, Annie, had told the press...

There's yer country song.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:41 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


As someone who is very familiar with Kennesaw State University's campus police; (they once shot a raccoon 9 times on suspicion of being rabid, they have riot gear on a largely commuter campus) I am not at all surprised that they went into lockdown. I am a bit confused about how the guy ran away. There isn't anywhere to hide near there and I don't think a guy in a prisoner jumpsuit would get very far on foot without stealing a car.
posted by Megafly at 4:34 AM on March 7, 2009


The first leg of the pursuit ended just 50 yards from his mother's trailer in Coopertown, Tenn., north of Nashville, where he crashed a stolen Walmart tractor-trailer into a field and headed for the woods once again. An accomplice picked him up on a nearby back road and took him to Nashville, where he stole Ms. Gayle's tour bus and drove it to a NASCAR track in Florida, littering it with chip bag wrappers and empty bottles.

This pretty much sums up America for me. Thank you, Mr. Gay.
posted by mannequito at 4:39 AM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why did he drive to a NASCAR track to litter it with chip bag wrappers and empty bottles? This is a truly bizarre aspect of the criminal mind.
posted by forallmankind at 12:17 PM on March 7, 2009


My roommate is French, and as part of his stay here, is trying to understand American culture and Americans in general. This story is the best example I have used so far to illustrate that Seattle, bless its heart, may as well be Sweden compared to the levels of wackiness which can be found in Tennessee, Louisiana, or Florida. No matter how many times he watches the Dukes of Hazard, I've been unable to get him to understand that some people I know and love consider that show the greatest cultural and social hallmark yet achieved in the United States and the world in general. Thank you, Chris Gay; you've helped.
posted by gam zeh yaavor at 7:29 PM on March 7, 2009


That's Dukes of Hazzard!

And I am sure the people in TN, LA, and FL doubt the sanity of the people in Seattle.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2009


No matter how many times he watches the Dukes of Hazard, I've been unable to get him to understand that some people I know and love consider that show the greatest cultural and social hallmark yet achieved in the United States and the world in general.

Get him this, if he learns to understand it he will have truly grasped America.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2009


disclaimer: I have never heard anyone in Alabama ever actually say "yeeeee-ha".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:03 PM on March 6


Well, of course not in Alabama. 'Bama is more of a "Hewwwww! Hewwwwwwww!" (it's always repeated for some reason) type call.

Tennessee has the much more nuanced "Wheeeee-hewwww". You can watch the Grand Ole Opry on television to verify.

The Great State of Mississippi is home to the "Hawwwwww-right" or "Hawwww-now", as made famous by Jerry Clower.

Texas is really what I would consider "yee-haw" territory, which for some reason made it up to Hazzard County, Kentucky. I blame post WWII transiency. Uncle Jesse strikes me as someone who could have come to Kentucky via San Antonio and a tour on the USS Longshaw.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:16 PM on March 9, 2009


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