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Multi-agency chase brings 50-mile pursuit to end in Ponce de Leon

A 50-mile pursuit through multiple counties ended in the arrest of a Tennessee man early Friday morning.

Joshua James Cornelius, 40, of Lebanon, Tennessee led deputies on a pursuit driving a stolen U-Haul that ended in Holmes County, according to a Walton County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Wednesday night, Cornelius was arrested by Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after being stopped on a motorcycle with no tag. He was given a signature bond and released Thursday morning.

Just after 9 p.m. Thursday, Cornelius kicked in the door at a business off Moll Drive in Santa Rosa Beach stealing a U-Haul before he was spotted by security in Watersound hours later.

Deputies attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle on U.S. 98 in Inlet Beach, but Cornelius refused to obey deputy commands and fled the stop.

Multiple spike strips were successful along the route which began on U.S. 98 and continued north on U.S. 331 to U.S. 90 in DeFuniak Springs ending in Ponce de Leon off State Road 81.

Cornelius was quickly tracked by members of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, Walton Correctional K-9 Team and Florida Highway Patrol after ditching the stolen U-Haul in the woods.

He was arrested and transported to the Holmes County Jail. At the time he was apprehended he was wearing an ankle monitor from a bondman out of Tennessee.

An investigation revealed his motorcycle stashed in the back of the U-Haul. The same motorcycle he was stopped on when he was arrested in Okaloosa County Wednesday night. In addition, it’s been positively identified as the same bike used to steal the U-Haul in Santa Rosa Beach.

He’s suspected in multiple burglaries on Dec. 5 in Walton County including one in the Watersound community involving the theft of construction materials.

Multiple charges are pending including grand theft, burglary, fleeing and eluding and grand theft auto.

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