Pursuit captures wanted sex offender

By Jeff Linville - jlinville@mtairynews.com
Spencer -
Bowman -

DOBSON — An elusive sex offender is finally in custody after a chase Thursday afternoon.

Joseph Odell Spencer, 44, has been in hiding since winter after sneaking out of the Surry County courthouse just before his case started.

Spencer was 24 years old when he was convicted of felony attempted first-degree sexual offense and felony indecent liberty with a child in 1998. The offense is said to have occurred in March 1993 when he was 19.

According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Spencer didn’t serve a sentence for his crimes until he also was convicted of other crimes in 2005. He was found guilty of possession of counterfeit instruments, possession with intent to sell a Schedule II drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

For those crimes, and the activation of his suspended sentence from the previous crimes, Spencer served in prison until December 2009.


Spencer is well known by local authorities, having been arrested several times.

Spencer was served a warrant July 2017 for simple possession of a schedule II drug, dated May 20, for the Dobson Police Department.

Before that, he was arrested in May 2017 on the charge of failure to appear in court on a habitual-felon case.

In November 2015, Spencer pleaded guilty by Alford decision in Surry County Superior Court to submitting false information to a sex-offender registry, simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a public officer.

In January, Spencer was out on bond and not in custody when he had a court date come up Jan. 10 on a charge of failing to report a new address as a sex offender. Rather than stay for his case, Spencer left the courthouse, and Judge Angela Puckett issued an order for his arrest.


According to the court docket at the time of his disappearance, Spencer also had several other charges coming up.

On Feb. 2 he missed his court date for two counts of driving while license revoked (not impaired) charges, expired license plate, two counts of driving with no car insurance, driving with no registration, and having a fictitious or altered registration/plate.

On Feb. 16 the charges he allegedly missed were driving with no registration, driving with no car insurance and allowing an unlicensed person to drive.

On Feb. 19 the charge was felony conspiracy.

On May 2 he missed an appearance for counts of driving while license revoked (not impaired) and having a canceled/revoked license plate.

All of these missed date led to further orders for arrest being filed.

New info

Sheriff Jimmy Combs thanked concerned citizens for passing along information that helped in this case.

Detectives in the narcotics division were patrolling in Siloam Thursday based on calls about possible drug activity in the neighborhood.

“The information gathered from our citizens is an invaluable resource in our battle with criminal activity,” Combs said on Friday.

Detectives identified a license plate as belonging to an April Jo Bowman, 37, who had warrants for her arrest.

Capt. Lloyd Terry said the officers weren’t sure if Bowman was in the car, so they followed the vehicle to a store in the Red Brush area. When they saw Bowman outside the car, the detectives moved in to serve the warrants.

However, Bowman allegedly got back in the car and a male driver of the vehicle failed to stop for the detectives. A vehicle pursuit followed out Pine Ridge Road and onto Laurel Springs Church Road before the driver came to a stop.

Officers detained the two subjects and identified the driver as Spencer, according to Terry.

Spencer was served with his order for arrest for habitual felon, three counts of failing to appear for failing to register as a sex offender and a failure to appear on a felony conspiracy charge. Detectives issued an additional charge of felony fleeing to elude arrest against Spencer as a result of the chase.

Bowman was searched after the stop and was found with clonazepam (also known by brand name Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax) and ketorolac tromethamine (Toradol), all three of which are Schedule 4 controlled substances.

Bowman was also found in possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Bowman was charged with one count of felony possession of meth, three counts of misdemeanor possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was also served with three charges of failing to appear.

Spencer was placed in the Surry County Detention Center and held under no bond.

Bowman was placed under a $33,000 secured bond.



By Jeff Linville


Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.