NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches authorities have nabbed the serial burglar allegedly responsible for more than 30 home burglaries in the Melrose area.
Jeffrey Douglas Holliman, 50, has been living off of nearly nothing way out in the woods for almost a year. It was a perfect hideout for the so-called survivalist. Thanks to a civilian tip, authorities were able to catch him red-handed.
For months, Nacogdoches authorities have been searching abandoned homes and woods for this man.
"We've done a massive search for this subject in the last two to three days, and thankfully, we got a good tip and a good heads up by the constable. They did a good thorough investigation," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges.
Around 11 o'clock Thursday night, a landowner tipped off the Pct. 4 constable that someone was in the woods. That's when they found the former Melrose Water Supply manager hiding inside a tent.
"Not sure what was running through his mind, but I think we caught him by surprise, off guard, and were able to get him before he really thought about doing too much," said David Stone, the Pct. 4 constable.
Holliman had been on the run since September. He is serving a 10-year probation sentence for stealing more than $200,000 from Melrose Water Supply over the course of several months. Bridges said the investigation started in mid-January after several houses and vehicles were broken into.
According a press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office, investigators and the Pct. 4 constable's office have been working the cases for months, with little or no leads. Bridges said the break in the case came Monday when authorities received a 911 call about a burglary at an abandoned house on County Road 411.
"Investigators recovered a large amount of property that had been stolen in this series of ongoing burglaries," the press release stated. "Sheriff Investigators quickly identified that this was a stash house and possible living quarters for the suspect in these burglaries."
Bridges said Holliman's experience as the manager of the water supply company gave him the knowledge of the area and where abandoned homes were for him to stay.
NCSO investigators spent all of Monday and Tuesday processing the crime scene. Several fingerprints were found at the scene, and they were matched to Holliman. Since Wednesday, NCSO deputies had been combing the woods and every abandoned house in the Melrose and Woden area. Bridges said they found evidence that indicated Holliman had been staying at least two other abandoned houses in that part of the county.
On Friday, authorities took East Texas News out to where Holliman had been hiding, a makeshift campsite deep in the woods.
"It's real far back," Stone said. "My chief deputy did a great job of trailing him, and I can remember coming down here when it was just the two us thinking, 'Wow, he must be crazy.'"
Crazy or not, Holliman was able to get away with the burglaries for months by living off the bare necessities. Authorities even had to cut a trail to get to the two tents, where some of the stolen items were found.
"Due to the vast amount of evidence, Sheriff Deputies stayed on scene throughout the night to guard the crime scene and protect the property," a press release from the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office stated. "Detectives with the Sheriff Office and Precinct 4 Constable Office processed the crime scene early this morning that took several hours to collect evidence. "
Bridges said several guns, computers, and other assorted personal property that had been stolen from houses, vehicles, and buildings in the Melrose and Woden area were recovered at the scene.
Deemed a survivalist, Holliman was able to live off of water from a nearby pond and stolen food.
"He would've been hard to catch if we didn't have that fingerprint and DNA evidence," Bridges said. "He's not your typical burglar - hiding out in the woods, staying out in the woods. Real distant contact with family members; he would've been hard to catch."
Bridges said Holliman had limited contact with the public. Because he didn't have a vehicle, he often traveled through the woods to get from place to place.
However, the would-be-hard-to-catch burglar is now behind bars.
Bridges said Holliman was on "very poor condition" and suffering dehydration. H was taken to Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital for treatment Thursday night.
Holliman was charged with a motion to revoke probation with no bond and one second-degree felony charge of burglary of a habitation. More charges are expected.
"We have a vast amount of evidence to go through at this time, and then we have to link each item to its rightful owner," Bridges said in the press release. "The Sheriff office currently has 30 open investigations that Holliman may be linked to. The Constable Office Precinct 4 has five open investigations as well."