updated 5/16/2007 10:14:08 AM ET 2007-05-16T14:14:08

A “person of interest” in the disappearance of a constable whose police cruiser was found in flames was arrested early Wednesday on a federal weapons charge in North Carolina, police said.

Walter Fayall III was taken into custody around 1 a.m. and will be returned to South Carolina, said Capt. Denise Bridges of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Department.

Dozens of officers have been searching the Charleston County area for Robert Lee Bailey, a 67-year-old constable who works for the Lincolnville Police Department. Bailey was last seen at a traffic stop late Monday. His hat, gun and several bullet casings were found in a yard, and his empty cruiser was found torched behind a church off Interstate 26.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Tuesday that authorities had identified Fayall as a person of interest, but no charges had been filed against him in the constable’s disappearance.

The sheriff said authorities are investigating whether Fayall lived in a house near where gunshots were heard the night Bailey disappeared.

Officials don’t know what happened to Bailey, Cannon said.

Highway Patrol Cpl. Paul Brouthers said searchers were out looking for the constable again Wednesday morning. Messages left with the sheriff’s office were not immediately returned.

Constables in South Carolina assist law enforcement agencies and may carry firearms. Bailey has worked as a law officer for both Dorchester County and the city of Charleston and as a constable with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department and with Lincolnville, Cannon said.

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