Highlands Co. sex offender captured after cutting his ankle monitor

LORIDA, Fla. -- Highlands County officials have been on high alert since Monday after a convicted sex offender cut off his ankle monitor and attempted to run from police.

According to the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Gary Lee Ebersole was going to be arrested for a probation violation before he cut the monitor off.

Deputies along with their K-9 units were able to track Ebersole down, tracing him to a slightly flooded wooded area around 9:30 a.m. Thursday. 

Ebersole would not come out on his own, so the K-9 units caught him by the leg, holding him until deputies were able to place him under arrest. Deputy Wayne Gunn and his bloodhound Bud led the trail to the suspect's capture. Deputy Cory Tomblin and Remco, another K-9 unit, also helped with his capture. Detective Cara Moseley of the Sexual Offender and Predator Unit arrested Ebersole near U.S. 98.

He was treated at a nearby hospital before being taken to jail for violation of probation, failure to report, leaving his permanent residence, and messing with a monitoring device, as well as grand theft of the ankle monitor.

“This was outstanding teamwork,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “The Special Victims Unit has been relentless the last three days in their pursuit. Once they found out where he was hiding, it was just a matter of time before we caught him. The K-9 units did an excellent job of tracking him through some tough terrain and running him down."

The Special Victims Unit, Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office, and members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission all assisted in the capture. 

Ebersole's prior charges date back to 1985 and include the following: sexual assault of a person under 16, failure to comply with sex offender registration, and grand theft of a vehicle and firearm. 

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