Local News

Authorities Apprehend Crime Suspect After Lengthy Search In Chapel Hill, Carrboro

Posted June 10, 2004

— A search for a suspected murderer in Chapel Hill and Carrboro is over. The man who began the search by fleeing from police has been taken into custody, though police admitted he is not the man they thought he was.

Donald Demond Riggsbee, 28, of 116 Eugene St. in Carrboro, was arrested for failing to appear in court to face charges of speeding to elude arrest, driving with a revoked license and careless and reckless driving.

Following Thursday's chase and search, Riggsbee was charged with resisting arrest. He was unarmed when arrested near Carrboro Elementary School.

When the search began, authorities believed Riggsbee was Durham murder suspect DeShaun Mitchell. He immediately had fled upon seeing police, beginning a three-hour search by land and air.

After Riggsbee was apprehended, police discovered he was not Mitchell but a suspect in other crimes who matched Mitchell's description.

Chapel Hill Police lifted a forced lockdown of students at Seawell Elementary School, Smith Middle School and Chapel Hill High School starting at 4 p.m. and permitted school buses to transport the students to other schools.

About 3,225 students and staff from the three schools were placed on lockdown just before 2 p.m., when Chapel Hill police and other law-enforcement agencies joined forces to search for Riggsbee. He had fled into the woods east of Seawell School Road in the area of the Horace Williams Airport off Estes Drive Extension.

At 4 p.m., the three schools began busing children to other locations for pickup by their parents.

Students from Seawell Elementary and Smith were taken to McDougle Middle School. Students from CHHS were taken to East Chapel Hill High School.

Private vehicles belonging to students and faculty were directed to leave the area by Homestead Road toward Carrboro. Middle-schoolers who were away on a field trip were to be dropped off at McDougle Middle School.

The chase began after Riggsbee was spotted in a vehicle in the area of Airport Road and Municipal Road. A foot chase ensued after he jumped out of the vehicle and ran.

Officers from the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Durham Police Department were participating in the search. A Duke K-9 unit and a Highway Patrol helicopter also looked for the suspect.

In addition to the three schools, all roads in the area were shut down.

Riggsbee apparently got from Chapel Hill into Carrboro by running on railroad tracks and along woods that line the tracks. Authorities said several heavily-wooded areas gave Riggsbee several options for hiding and made the search difficult.

Riggsbee was taken into custody shortly after 5 p.m.

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