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Fugitive’s 10-state trail includes encounter with Baptist pastor

GROVE HILL, Ala. (BP)–An agent with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is warning churches to be wary of a dangerous fugitive whose history allegedly includes kidnapping, rape and robbery.
Louis Fawcett, an agent for the TDCJ, has been tracking Preston Carl Cronn since March 16 on a trail through 10 states — including a June encounter with an Alabama pastor.
Cronn is wanted by the sheriff’s department in Boise, Idaho, for grand theft. He took off with a maroon 1998 Chevrolet extended-cab pickup truck after negotiating an agreement with a pastor in Boise. He is believed to still be traveling in the truck with an Idaho license plate, 1AE1136.
Fawcett described Cronn as a white male who stands 6’2″ and weighs about 150 pounds. He has blond hair and hazel eyes.
“He doesn’t stay anywhere more than a day or two,” said Fawcett, who noted that Cronn approaches ministers and asks for money, food and a place to stay in exchange for repair work. He tells them his construction business in Idaho failed and he has lost everything, including his wallet and identification.
Johnny Kendrick, pastor of Tompkins Baptist Church, Grove Hill, Ala., will never forget the “chilling feeling of imminent evil” he felt on the afternoon of June 1 as Cronn entered Kendrick’s office.
Alone at the time, Kendrick saw Cronn pull into the parking lot in a brand-new pickup truck loaded with carpentry equipment and bearing an Idaho license plate. Kendrick said the man had “all the features of a homeless person,” including dingy, old clothing and a putrid odor. But Kendrick said he knew right away “this was no benevolence case.”
Cronn said he had lost his money with a “job gone sour in Idaho” and needed to get back to Florida.
When the visitor mentioned a recent scuffle he had with a pastor, Kendrick became concerned.
“I began to get very uncomfortable,” said Kendrick, adding that Cronn repeatedly asked to go home with the pastor and sleep in his living room.
Just in time
Fortunately, the phone rang just as Cronn was beginning to show impatience. On the other end of the line was Kendrick’s wife.
After excusing himself and explaining the situation to his wife, Kendrick phoned the sheriff’s office, gave them Cronn’s tag number and arranged to take the man to a nearby gas station, where he would be met by the police.
At the station, Kendrick filled the man’s tank and bought him some crackers and a soft drink. The pastor noticed Cronn became “visibly shaken” at the sight of the authorities.
He hurriedly gathered his things, thanked Kendrick and drove off, followed closely by the police, who ran a check on his tag number.
However, there were no outstanding warrants on Cronn at the time, which gave the police no probable cause to detain him.
Later Kendrick learned Cronn was a fugitive. He feels God helped him discern Cronn’s motives. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the Lord gave me the wisdom to recognize that situation.”
Fawcett said Cronn was last seen in Dunn, N.C. The Texas officer asks anyone who knows of Cronn’s whereabouts or has been victimized by Cronn to call him at (214) 922-7335.

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  • Jason Skinner