Deputies arrest Wells after chase

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2001

A fugitive on the run for almost a year after he allegedly threw his ex-girlfriend off a cliff was captured Friday just a short distance from her Morgantown residence.

The manhunt came to an end Friday after the fugitive’s own mother alerted law enforcement that he was in the area.

Edward Wells, 29, whose last known Natchez address was 10 Hillcrest Drive, was arrested shortly after 1:30 p.m. by Adams County sheriff deputies following a short car chase.

Wells is accused of beating his ex-girlfriend, Patty Rabb of Natchez, nearly to death and throwing her down a 25-foot cliff off U.S. 61 near Vickburg in July.

Injuries from the attack left Rabb paralyzed from the chest down.

Apparently, Wells was enroute to see Rabb Friday when Deputy Frank Smith spotted the suspect driving a 1968 Ford Mustang on U.S. 61 near the truck scales.

Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell said Deputy Smith performed a license check on the car and attempted to pull Wells over when the license check showed the car was reported stolen from Amarillo, Texas. As other deputies closed in, Smith attempted to stop Wells’ car.

Wells refused to stop for Deputy Smith and turned down Morgantown Road. Ferrell said the pursuit continued down Brookfield Drive at a &uot;tremendously high rate of speed.&uot; Wells then failed to make the curve at the end of Brookfield, spun out on the rain-slicked road and &uot;hit the ground running,&uot; Ferrell said.

&uot;Unfortunately for him, the pursuing unit was a canine unit with Deputy Nero inside,&uot; Ferrell said.

Deputy Smith released his canine partner, Nero, and pursued Wells for a short distance before the dog apprehended Wells, Ferrell said.

The arrest ended months of law enforcement pursuit.

Warren County Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Jay McKenzie said his agency had stayed &uot;more or less one step behind (Wells)&uot; in the past year.

&uot;It was a nice surprise for the end of the week when they called and told us they had him,&uot; he said.

Wells told deputies he’d been living on the streets in several cities including Nashville, Tenn., Panama City, Fla., and Amarillo, Ferrell said.

Following Friday’s arrest, Rabb was still trying to piece together Friday’s events.

She said Wells called her twice on Friday – the first time he’d contacted her since the alleged assault.

During the first call, &uot;he told he loved me, and he started crying, and he hung up,&uot; Rabb said.

He then called back and said he wanted her to be outside as he drove by in his car, Rabb said.

&uot;I was scared,&uot; Rabb said about the phone calls. &uot;I was scared to go outside too, you know.

&uot;I wanted him to see me in the wheelchair,&uot; she said. &uot;That would have been comfort enough for me, for him to see the way I hurt.&uot;

Rabb’s mother, Debbie Pilgrim, also called law enforcement after her daughter received the calls but by that time deputies had already arrested Wells.

Sheriff Ferrell said no weapons had been found either on Wells or inside the car, but deputies were still searching the car late Friday.

Wells stole the particular model of car to try and impress Rabb, Ferrell said.

Wells’ mother, Mary James of Concordia Parish, La., said she got a surprise visit from Wells Friday.

It was the first time she had talked to her son since before the assault, she said.

&uot;I was taking a nap. I thought I was dreaming,&uot; James said. &uot;My door opened and (I heard) ‘Mama. Mama.’&uot;

James said she has had many dreams and worries about her son since last year.

&uot;He came walking into the bedroom where I was at, and I hugged his neck.&uot;

During his visit, James said her son asked if Rabb was alive and then claimed not to have hurt her.

&uot;He said they got into an argument, and she fell and hit her head on the ball (trailer hitch) of a truck,&uot; James said.

James said she does not know why her son returned to the Miss-Lou.

&uot;Maybe this was his way of giving himself up,&uot; she said. &uot;Maybe he’s tired of running.&uot;

Rabb had a difficult time expressing herself Friday,.

&uot;I’m just really emotional right now,&uot; she said. &uot;I don’t know how I feel to tell you the truth.&uot;

Rabb said she is never wanted to see anybody go to jail but a part of her wishes Wells could experience her suffering.

&uot;He made life hard for me,&uot; she said. &uot;I think (being) in jail has too much privileges.&uot;

Ferrell said deputies plan to transport Wells to Warren County Saturday, where his case will likely be presented to a grand jury on July 16. Wells is charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder.

Wells was on probation at the time of Rabb’s assault for a robbery conviction in 1999.

In Adams County, he is now charged with probation violation and minor traffic violations in connection with Friday’s chase, Ferrell said.