AUSTIN – A most-wanted Texas fugitive and two of the state’s most-wanted sex offenders are now in custody.
Recently arrested were “Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive” Joshua David Whitworth, 36, of Magnolia, and two “Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders” – Michael Deray Johnson, 28, of Paris, and Vernie Lee Hunt, 50, of Alice.
Whitworth, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood Gang, was arrested Feb. 16 in Arkansas. Johnson was arrested Feb. 18 in Sherman. Hunt was arrested Feb. 18 in Alice.
Rewards will be paid by Crime Stoppers for the arrests of Whitworth and Johnson.
News release from the Texas Department of Public Safety:
AUSTIN – Three of Texas’ Most Wanted Fugitives are back in custody following their arrests last week. They include Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive Joshua David Whitworth, who was February’s Featured Fugitive, as well as Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders Michael Deray Johnson and Vernie Lee Hunt. Whitworth, of Magnolia, was arrested Feb. 16 in Arkansas. Johnson, of Paris, was arrested Feb. 18 in Sherman. Hunt, of Alice, was arrested Feb. 18 in Alice. Crime Stoppers rewards will be paid in the arrests of Whitworth and Johnson.
Joshua David Whitworth, 36, is a member of the Aryan Brotherhood Gang. His arrest in Sylamore, Ark., involved several agencies, including the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, Izard County Sheriff’s Office, 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Arkansas District of Corrections K-9 Unit, Mountain View Police Department, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Baxter County Aerial Unit.
Whitworth had been wanted since August 2020, when the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a warrant for a parole violation. In December 2020, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office also issued a warrant for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Whitworth was also wanted in Montgomery County for burglary of a vehicle and in Stone County, Ark., for theft and delivery of methamphetamine and cocaine.
In 2013, Whitworth was convicted of unlawful possession of metal or body armor by a felon and evading arrest/detention. He was sentenced to four years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison. In 2018, Whitworth was arrested in Arkansas for delivery of methamphetamine and cocaine, where he bonded out of jail and returned to Texas. In 2019, he was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced to two years in a TDCJ prison. Whitworth was released on parole in July 2020. He was added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list on Sept. 14, 2021. For more information, view his captured bulletin [dps.texas.gov].
Michael Deray Johnson, 28, is a high-risk sex offender. He was arrested at an apartment complex by DPS Special Agents and Sherman police. Johnson had been wanted since October 2018, when the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest for failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements. In September 2020, warrants were also issued for an accident involving serious bodily injury and evading arrest/detention with a vehicle.
In 2010, Johnson was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old male. He was sentenced to two years in a Texas correctional facility. In 2014, Johnson was convicted of failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements and sentenced to one year in a TDCJ prison. He was added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders List on Jan. 27. For more information, view his captured bulletin [dps.texas.gov].
Vernie Lee Hunt, 50, was arrested by DPS Special Agents and Texas Highway Patrol following a traffic stop. Hunt had been wanted since May 2021, when the Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest for failure to register as a sex offender.
In 2000, Hunt was convicted of burglary of a building and sentenced to two years in a TDCJ prison. In 2001, he was convicted of indecency with a child by contact for an incident with an 11-year-old boy and was sentenced to four years in a TDCJ prison. In 2009, Hunt was convicted of failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements and was sentenced to another three years in a TDCJ prison. He was released from prison in 2011. Hunt was added to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders List on Feb. 16. For more information, view his captured bulletin [dps.texas.gov].
Texas Crime Stoppers, which is funded by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, offers cash rewards to any person who provides information that leads to the arrest of one of Texas’ 10 Most Wanted Fugitives or Sex Offenders. So far in 2022, DPS and other agencies have arrested 11 people off the lists, including four gang members and six sex offenders. In addition, $32,500 in rewards has been paid for tips that yielded arrests.
To be eligible for cash rewards, tipsters MUST provide information to authorities using one of the following three methods:
- Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).
- Submit a web tip through the DPS website [dps.texas.gov] by selecting the fugitive you have information about then clicking on the link under their picture.
- Submit a Facebook tip [m.facebook.com] by clicking the “SUBMIT A TIP” link (under the “About” section).
All tips are anonymous — regardless of how they are submitted — and tipsters will be provided a tip number instead of using a name.
DPS investigators work with local law enforcement agencies to select fugitives for the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives and Sex Offenders Lists. You can find the current lists — with photos — on the DPS website [dps.texas.gov].
Do not attempt to apprehend these fugitives; they are considered armed and dangerous.