Suspected thief thwarted by 11-year-old with machete, sparking two-day manhunt

After being forced into a closet, an 11-year-old grabbed a machete and swung at the intruder, striking him in the head.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Tim Stelloh

An 11-year-old North Carolina boy fought off a suspected burglar with a machete, sending the thief to the hospital, where he was supposed to be monitored until police could take him into custody, but he walked out, sparking a two-day manhunt.

Jataveon Dashawn Hall, 19, is accused of breaking into a Mebane house Friday afternoon and stuffing an 11-year-old into a closet in an effort to steal electronics, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. But the boy was able to escape from the closet and hit the thief over the head with a machete.

Sheriff's deputies responded to the home, got a description of Hall from the boy, and started sharing it with area hospitals so they could be on the lookout. They got a call at about 1 p.m. that Hall had walked into UNC-Hillsborough Hospital with a head wound.

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The sheriff's office obtained warrants for breaking and entering, second-degree kidnapping, interfering with emergency communications and assault on a child under 12, and instructed hospital staff to call deputies before discharging Hall.

But Hall's injury got worse, and he was transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill Hospital, according to the sheriff's office. Staff at that hospital were also told not to release Hall until sheriff's deputies were on the scene to arrest him.

Jataveon Dashawn Hall, 19, in an undated photo.Orange County Sheriff's Office / AP

On Saturday morning, a deputy called UNC-Chapel Hill to check on Hall. He was later told that the suspect had left the hospital "against medical advice," according to the sheriff's office. He had told a nurse that "he needed to leave because the police were going to be looking for him."

“The arrangement all of our area law enforcement agencies have with hospital police of ensuring the eventual arrest of a suspect after the suspect receives medical care, has been in place for decades. I cannot remember another time when it has failed," Orange County Sheriff's Office Chief Jamison Sykes said in a statement.

"When Hall left the hospital Friday evening against medical advice, we certainly should have been notified. But most concerning of all is that hospital police did not even know Hall had left the premises almost 10 hours prior. Indeed, Hall’s absence was only discovered when we placed a phone call to them," Sykes said.

The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sheriff's office asked the public to look for a man with a bandaged head, wearing a hospital gown and blue socks. Police received a tip Sunday afternoon that Hall was at his mother's house in Burlington, and that's where he was found and arrested. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service were involved in the search.

Hall is being held at the Orange County Detention Center on $100,000 bond. He is due in court Monday afternoon.