GPS leads cops to local fugitive in Delaware County



UPPER DARBY, Pa. - GPS technology, Google Earth and some old-fashioned police work helped authorities nab an Allegheny County man wanted for fleeing from authorities with his 6-month old son.

Edward Thomas Johnson, 36, was asleep on his mother's couch when police knocked on the door of her Delaware County home early Thursday. Johnson's infant son, who had been taken from his mother unlawfully, was found, unharmed, nearby, according to Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

It was about 1 a.m. Thursday that Upper Darby police received a call from the North Versailles Township Police Department saying they had a warrant for a man they believed to be hiding out somewhere in Upper Darby.

Johnson, they said, did not have custody of the baby, who has medical issues, Chitwood said.

North Versailles police said they had a warrant for Johnson for assault and violation of a protection from abuse order and asked Upper Darby police for help.

Johnsons's girlfriend, the mother of the baby, had given police his cell phone number, Chitwood said. North Versailles Police there had no idea where Johnson was so they "pinged" the cellphone via GPS and came up with coordinates indicating he was in Upper Darby. But Upper Darby, Chitwood noted, is pretty big.

"Officer Stephen Ford went on Google Earth, put the coordinates in and it focused on the 500 block of 69th Street," Chitwood said. "By 2:30, a half dozen officers and Sgt. Anthony Vaughn began knocking on doors."

The officers went door-to-door looking for Johnson. At one home in the 500 block of 69th Street, a woman answered the door.

"Sgt. Vaughn asked if she knew Johnson," Chitwood said. "She hesitated, then said he was her son and he was on the couch sleeping."

The baby, who had been reported as missing and endangered, was also there, he said.

Johnson was arrested, charged with being a fugitive and sent to Delaware County prison to wait for North Versailles police to pick him up.

The baby was transported to Delaware County Memorial Hospital to be checked out. Children and Youth Services took custody of the little boy and will reunite him with his mother.

"It's amazing what technology can do," said Chitwood.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.