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Alleged plane thief appears before Orange County judge

A Chapel Hill man accused of stealing a plane, crashing it in Alamance County and then eluding authorities for several days made his first appearance before a judge Friday.

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — The man who police say stole a small airplane from a private airport on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus made his first appearance Friday before a judge on a felony larceny charge.

Curtis Rene Mellott, who appeared via closed-circuit TV, was ordered a court-appointed attorney. Mellott's probable cause hearing is scheduled for Aug. 29.

UNC campus police say Mellott, 46, of 114 Mel Oak Drive in Chapel Hill, stole a single-engine Piper plane from Horace Williams Airport sometime late Monday or early Tuesday and crashed it into some trees in the Alamance County town of Graham, about 25 miles away.

He also faces a felony charge of possession of stolen property in Alamance County.

Mellott was on the lam for several days before police arrested him at his home Thursday afternoon.

A judge kept his jail bond at $1 million after prosecutors said he was a flight risk. Mellott has previous DWI convictions, a pending DWI and gun possession trial set for next month and could face federal charges. An investigation is also under way in Wayne County on similar charges.

Wayne County investigators couldn't be reached Friday about the details of the charges Mellott faces there.

Other questions also remained unanswered Friday, including why Mellot might have stolen a plane and what happened to cause it to crash.


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