‘Most wanted’ suspect in York County, SC caught after 5 weeks of searching, police say

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The York County man who was at the top of the county Crimestoppers Top 10 list was taken into custody Tuesday in Rock Hill after a five-week manhunt, officials said.

Johnny Michael Benfield, 31, of York, is charged with kidnapping and assault of a high and aggravated nature, said Trent Faris, spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

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Benfield had been sought by law enforcement since March 25 until he turned himself in Tuesday, Faris said.

Deputies had arrest warrants against Benfield since late March, Faris said. In the March 25 incident, Benfield is accused of holding a woman against her will and physically beating her, according to Faris and a sheriff’s office incident report.

The office said in April on the Crimestoppers website that Benfield was at the top of the list of most wanted fugitives in York County.

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Benfield is in the York County jail, Faris said, and is expected to have an initial court hearing Wednesday on the kidnap and assault charges.

Kidnapping carries up to 30 years in prison for a conviction under South Carolina law.

Suspect is a convicted felon out on bond, court records show

Benfield had been out on bail since June 2020 after an arrest for reckless driving, hit and run accident with property damage, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest and failure to stop for blue lights, according to sheriff and court records. A deputy suffered a broken ankle in that pursuit of Benfield, officials said.

In March, before the kidnapping allegations, Benfield was again released on bond after an arrest for assault of a high and aggravated nature, court records show.

Benfield was sentenced to 15 years in a South Carolina prison in 2014 after he pleaded guilty to burglary and other charges, York County criminal court records show. In 2012 he pleaded guilty to felony drug charges and was sentenced to two years in prison, records show.

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