SPRINGFIELD — What began as a search for a missing Effingham County man Sunday ended with the man found safe, and then criminally charged, Tuesday night.
Douglas Lee Morris, 42, of Guyton, was arrested and charged with hindering law enforcement officers after failing to respond to multiple attempts the Effingham County Sheriff's Office made to contact him, according to investigators.
"He knew, without a doubt, that we were trying to locate him to verify his well-being," Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said.
Morris' family reported him missing Sunday afternoon after finding a typewritten letter from him. ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor did not release details of Morris' letter, but stated it "indicated that his life was in jeopardy."
The ECSO tried to contact Morris several times through phone calls, text messages and Facebook messages, Ehsanipoor said. However, Morris responded to none of them.
"He even had text messages from us to his phone that we got a read receipt on, that we knew he read those things," McDuffie said. "All he had to do was pick up the phone and call us and say, 'I'm OK. Leave me alone.' End of story."
Investigators determined that Morris traversed three states — Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina — returning to Effingham County on Tuesday night. The ECSO received information Morris was at his brother's house on Interstate Circle.
Deputies went to the home and spoke to Morris, who said he was fine and admitted to writing the letter.
"He said he didn't mean it — he was joking," Ehsanipoor said.
Morris' bond was set at $2,400 and he was released from jail Wednesday.