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Most-wanted Bartholomew County fugitive caught in bathtub

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Cheryl Ann Baldwin, 37, Columbus
Cheryl Ann Baldwin, 37, Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The most-wanted fugitive in Bartholomew County was found hiding in a bathtub, fully-clothed, after deputies spied her outside a local home through high-powered binoculars.

Cheryl Ann Baldwin, 37, was arrested Wednesday on a Bartholomew County warrant for failure to appear in court on possession of methamphetamine and false informing charges and a Jackson County warrant for failure to appear for a probation revocation hearing.

She was named the most-wanted fugitive by Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett last week as part of a program to reduce a backlog of warrants.

Sheriff’s Detective Nate Hedrick, who was investigating Baldwin, had been following up leads and conducting surveillance on a residence on Indiana 46 West when he saw a woman he suspected was Baldwin.

However, he was too far away to immediately make positive identification until Detectives Sgt. Chris Roberts and Capt. Greg Duke arrived with high-powered binoculars that allowed for in-depth surveillance.

While conducting the surveillance, a new tip from the public relayed through emergency dispatchers was sent to the deputies, which identified the residence as the place where Baldwin had been staying.

Detectives, strategically located around the residence, approached it and made contact with a person who acknowledged Baldwin was on the property.

They found her hiding in the bathtub, and she submitted to arrest, Gorbett said.

During the arrest, a small plastic bag of white powdery substance was located in her pocket by Reserve Deputy Ruth Stillinger-Wilson and Deputy Jeff Wehmiller, according to the sheriff’s department.

A presumptive test determined the powder to be methampethamine.

Baldwin was booked into Bartholomew County Jail on the warrants and on a preliminary charge of felony drug possession.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Department requested that Baldwin be held without bond on the outstanding warrant from that county.

Gorbett said the case was resolved more quickly than some of the previous "most-wanted" cases because leads from the public tended to match information developed by detectives.

"In this case, some of the leads from the public were timely, even to the moment of arrest," Gorbett said.

"I am very pleased with both the interest and spirit of the public in passing on information and the good work done by my detectives in developing their own intelligence and acting on the input from the public."

Baldwin was the seventh suspect named in Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department’s "most wanted" program. All seven have been caught or surrendered.

The sheriff’s "most wanted" program is aimed at reducing a backlog of about 2,600 warrants the sheriff’s department is responsible for serving.

It supplements the daily work of deputies, who served more than 1,000 warrants last year.

Gorbett has said suspects labeled as "most wanted" are selected based on the likelihood of finding them — not on whether they are a danger to the public, nor the seriousness of the crime.

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