A United States Marine believed to have left Arizona for California's Camp Pendleton never arrived, has been found days later in Navarro County.
Lance Cpl. Job Wallace was taken into custody Saturday night by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and officers from the Corsicana Police and Navarro County Sheriff’s Departments at a rest area in Navarro County, according to a statement by Corsicana Chief of Police Robert Johnson.
“A half dozen NCIS agents flew across the country on military transports, following leads that always put them one step behind the missing Marine,” Johnson stated. “The Agents had been working 48 hours straight with no sleep as they followed leads that led them from Camp Pendleton to Arizona, El Paso, DFW and Corsicana.”
Local law enforcement was notified by NCIS of the possibility of the Cpl. Wallace being in the area. Officers from the Corsicana Police Department, Navarro Sheriff's Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety attended a special briefing at the Corsicana Police Department shortly before 9 p.m. As the search progressed, a vehicle matching the description was observed by Navarro County Deputy Grigsby at the Northbound Rest Stop near Richland.
An NCIS Agent was teamed up with Corsicana Police Narcotics Officers Lt. Paul Jock, and Detectives Jarrett Girard and Jacob Palos was already in the area and drove through the rest stop parking down from the suspect who was exiting his vehicle and walking toward the restroom. A field decision was made to quickly engage the subject once he entered the restroom. CPD Officers Lt. Jock, Detectives Girard and Palos, Navarro County Deputies Sgt. William Grigsby and Cpl. Randy Nanny along with the assigned NCIS Agent made the initial entry into the restroom and apprehended the Marine without further incident. They were immediately assisted by another half dozen NCIS agents stationed from Camp Pendleton, as well as multiple Texas State Troopers from Navarro, Limestone and Freestone Counties and the Richland Police Department.
Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson, who was at the scene of the apprehension Saturday night, stated that the investigation is still ongoing and is in the hands of the NCIS Marine Corps Office. Due to the nature of the event, he will not be making any further comment until NCIS finishes its investigation.
Chief Johnson further stated that he was thrilled at the team work and flow of information between local, state and federal agencies involved.
Chief Johnson and Sheriff Elmer Tanner worked very closely together throughout the evening, exchanging information and coordinating asset allocation and personnel to assist the federal agents and keep the citizens of Corsicana and Navarro County safe.
The 20-year-old had last been seen leaving a friend's house in Surprise, Arizona, on Monday night, his mother, Stacy Wallace, said. He was due back at Camp Pendleton after a three-day leave that took him home to the suburbs west of Phoenix and a camping trip.
Navarro County is more than 1,100 miles east of Surprise and in the opposite direction from Camp Pendleton in Southern California.
The statement from Kurt Thomas, the special agent in charge of the NCIS Marine Corps West field office, did not include details about how Wallace was found or what he was doing.
Stacy Wallace had said her son loved the Marines and was excited to get back to Camp Pendleton, having been recently promoted.
"He got into several colleges and missed scholarship opportunities just so that he could be a Marine, because he felt it was his duty to serve his country," Wallace said.
Wallace's mother had said law enforcement officials told her that her son's phone was last pinged Monday night in Arizona. But a Border Patrol camera spotted his truck the next morning traveling eastbound on Interstate 10 near Fort Hancock, Texas, southeast of El Paso.
A Surprise police spokesman said officers took a report and turned the matter over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Thomas' Saturday night statement thanked law enforcement partners in Texas, Arizona and on the federal level "for their aid in bringing this to a safe resolution."