July 28, 1999
Churches warned of con man's scheme
___GROVE HILL, Ala. (BP)--An agent with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is warning churches to be wary of a dangerous fugitive whose history allegedly includes kidnapping, rape and robbery.
___Officer Louis Fawcett has been tracking Preston Carl Cronn since March 16 on a trail through 10 states.
___Cronn is wanted by the sheriff's department in Boise, Idaho, for grand theft. He took off with a maroon 1998 Chevrolet extended-cab pickup truck after negotiating an agreement with a pastor in Boise. He is believed to still be traveling in the truck with an Idaho license plate, 1AE1136.
___Fawcett described Cronn as a white male who stands 6'2" and weighs about 150 pounds, with blond hair and hazel eyes.
___"He doesn't stay anywhere more than a day or two," said Fawcett, who noted that Cronn approaches ministers and asks for money, food and a place to stay in exchange for repair work. He tells them his construction business in Idaho failed and he has lost everything, including his wallet and identification.
___Johnny Kendrick, pastor of Tompkins Baptist Church in Grove Hill, Ala., will never forget the "chilling feeling of imminent evil" he felt on the afternoon of June 1 as Cronn entered Kendrick's office.
___Alone at the time, Kendrick saw Cronn pull into the parking lot in a brand-new pickup truck loaded with carpentry equipment. Cronn said he had lost his money with a "job gone sour in Idaho" and needed to get back to Florida.
___When the visitor mentioned a recent scuffle he had with a pastor, Kendrick became concerned. Cronn repeatedly asked to go home with the pastor and sleep in his living room.
___Kendrick phoned the sheriff's office, gave them Cronn's tag number and arranged to take the man to a nearby gas station, where he would be met by the police.
___At the station, Kendrick filled the man's tank and bought him some crackers and a soft drink. The pastor noticed Cronn became "visibly shaken" at the sight of the authorities.
___He hurriedly gathered his things, thanked Kendrick and drove off, followed closely by the police, who ran a check on his tag number.
___However, there were no outstanding warrants on Cronn at the time.
___Later Kendrick learned Cronn was a fugitive. He feels God helped him discern Cronn's motives.
___Fawcett said Cronn was last seen in Dunn, N.C. The Texas officer asks anyone who knows of Cronn's whereabouts or has been victimized by Cronn to call him at (214) 922-7335.
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