Drivers license renewal leads to arrest

COLUMBIA CITY — An alert agency employee is responsible for putting a Whitley County sex offender and fugitive from justice behind bars.According to police and several people connected with the Huntsville, Ala. Salvation Army, DeWayne E. Stewart, 47, formerly of Columbia City, was arrested Friday when he attempted to get an Alabama driver’s license.Huntsville police confirmed the arrest on Monday.Stewart was reportedly living in a shelter for the homeless run by the Huntsville Salvation Army chapter and was attending a six-month drug and alcohol treatment program.He graduated from the program in December and was living in a half-way house before attempting to get his driver’s license.According to Tim Longenbaugh of the Columbia City Police Department, an officer with the U.S. Marshal’s office said it was while at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles that Stewart’s warrant became known and the authorities were called.Word of Stewart’s arrest quickly made its way to the local Salvation Army.“It was a shock to us all,” said Jamey Waits, who knew Stewart from his time in the program.Longenbaugh said Stewart might be facing federal charges on top of what local authorities have filed against him.“He could fight extradition,” Longenbaugh said.Stewart is wanted in Whitley County for child seduction and failing to register as a sex offender.He has a prior conviction for sexual misconduct with a minor, according the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department.The Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney’s office filed charges of child seduction May 24 and issued a warrant for failing to register as a sex offender on July 28.Stewart’s earlier conviction of sexual misconduct with a minor stemmed from an incident in 2004, according to police.According to police, Stewart was arrested March 18 in Buncombe County, N.C. but was released and has not been seen or heard from since.Conditions of Stewart’s conviction from the 2004 incident include his requirement to register as a convicted sex offender.The last contact between local authorities and Stewart was Nov. 25, 2009 when a sheriff’s deputy went to his Columbia City residence to verify he was still residing there and found Stewart at home.Stewart had fled by the time authorities returned months later to serve warrants on the additional charges.