A man wanted for failing to register as a convicted sex offender now also faces vehicle theft and drug charges after the owner of a stolen truck and her parents set him up for arrest.
Shay Gibson said she trusted Terry Joseph Calahan, who she said is also known as Terry Scott and Joseph Scott. She met him through mutual friends and hired him to do some yard work around her house. On Oct. 14, he stole her truck, she said.
Calahan, 39, of Blythe, was arrested Wednesday in Millen after being set up by Gibson and her parents. He faces charges in Screven, Bulloch and Jenkins counties.
According to Bulloch County sheriff's reports, Gibson reported her 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer stolen on Oct. 14 after she refused to allow Calahan to drive it to Augusta.
He asked to use it to visit his sick child, but Gibson told him the vehicle had high mileage and was not safe to drive that far, she said. However, when she later awoke from a nap, she discovered the truck was gone, according to reports.
"I went to check on the yard work and (the truck) was gone. My keys were gone," she said Thursday.
She texted Calahan, who apologized for taking the vehicle.
"He said, 'I'm sorry, I panicked. I had to see my kid,'" she said.
Feeling sorry for him, she told him to drive safely and to let her know when he returned.
The next day, however, he had not come back. Later, Gibson learned that the tale about his child being sick was untrue, she said.
Calahan continued to communicate with Gibson via text messages, attempting to woo her and asking to be in a relationship with her while giving excuses for why he had not returned the truck. She turned him down, referring to a pending divorce, she said.
By midnight that night, Calahan was still not back with Gibson's vehicle. He stopped responding to texts and changed his phone number, she said.
Concerned, Gibson went to Calahan's sister's home for answers. Calahan wasn't there, but the wheelchair rack that had been on her truck was. It had been removed and damaged.
"His sister said she didn't know what it was or where it came from, that he had just left it there," Gibson said.
A lookout was posted, and her Trailblazer was reportedly seen in Savannah, Sylvania, Rincon and Augusta, she said. But law enforcement had not caught up with Calahan.
Gibson sent Calahan messages on Facebook and received notices that he had read them, but he did not respond, she said. She continued messaging him, and her father eventually asked Calahan by message what it would take for him to return the vehicle.
Calahan replied then, demanding $1,500 "and all my pills," Gibson said, referring to pain medication and others she had been prescribed for a back injury.
She used delay tactics, telling him her insurance would only allow her $900 for the vehicle. He then demanded the medications and $900 that night, but she told him her bank's ATM would only allow her to withdraw $300 a day. He acquiesced and instructed Gibson to meet him in Millen.
She and her parents did so, and Calahan messaged her with demands that she "go into McDonald's, buy a meal and place the stuff in the bag." He would pick the bag up and then text her the location of the truck, she said.
Gibson refused, insisting he meet her in person. Then Gibson's father spotted the truck across the street from McDonald's at Popeyes and notified Jenkins County sheriff's deputies, who were aware of and involved in the set-up. Deputies told them that they had already been watching Calahan at that location, she said.
When deputies closed in on Calahan, he tried to run but was detained and taken into custody, she said.
Jenkins County sheriff's records show Calahan was charged with fleeing/attempt to elude, possession of drug-related objects and possession of an imitation controlled substance.
He is wanted by the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office on theft by taking a motor vehicle. Warrants from the Screven County Sheriff's Office for failure to register as a convicted sex offender are expected to be served while Calahan remains held without bond in the Bulloch County Jail, according to records.
"He put over 3,000 miles on my vehicle in two weeks," Gibson said. "They found a crack pipe in the truck, and about $200 worth of items" in gift bags that Gibson had put together for the homeless were missing as well.
According to the Georgia Sex Offender Registry, Calahan was convicted of felony statutory rape in 1996, when he was 30 years old. He had been living in Screven County on Scarboro Highway but apparently moved and did not notify authorities of the move, according to Screven County sheriff's records.
He also has a history of arrests for drug and other charges in Effingham County, according to www.policearrests.com.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.