Catching Lucas Henson wasn’t easy.
Law enforcement’s pursuit of the 36-year-old Missouri man was just beginning when Henson, pursued by Butler County sheriff’s deputies, crashed into a stolen 2007 Dodge pickup truck in the woods near Mark Twain National Forest. In the hours-long chase that followed, Henson started several wildfires in an attempt to confuse federal and local authorities. At some point, after setting the fire, Henson pointed a crossbow at Forest Service agents, who cornered him. The move gave Henson enough time to run into the river and leave, but added additional charges when he was indicted in federal court last week.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Henson with assaulting a law enforcement officer, committing arson and possession of a firearm. The federal charges are in addition to the plethora of state charges the Iron County man faces, all related to the tumultuous weekend in October.
According to multiple probable cause statements from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, Henson’s weekend crime spree began early Saturday, October 22, when he stole a 2003 Ford Econo van from Patriot Rentals in Poplar Bluff. Henson then drove the van to 468 County Road, also in Poplar Bluff, where the van ran out of gas and Henson abandoned it.
Henson then allegedly stole a red 2007 Dodge pickup truck from JM, the Poplar Bluff man who reported the truck theft.
Shortly thereafter, Henson was caught on surveillance video pulling up to the Wayne County residence in a pickup truck, robbing the house, and fleeing with a Ruger pistol.
Around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, JM spotted his missing Dodge near the intersection of Highway 60 West and the densely overgrown 409 Bypass.
JM approached his truck as Henson, dressed in blue jeans, a baseball cap and shirtless, got out of the stolen vehicle and pulled a stolen pistol from his belt, pointing it at JM.
Henson then left in a Dodge and JM gave chase in his car, calling the police in the process.
Deputies found Henson in a truck now parked at 401 County Road, which runs along the Black River. Escaping the deputies, Henson drove into a wooded area and quickly crashed the Dodge, leaving it “extremely damaged”, according to a statement of probable cause.
Henson then fled to the Mark Twain National Forest.
A K9 unit from Wayne County and US Forest Service agents arrived to assist in the search for Henson. Law enforcement officers and dogs covered several hundred yards on foot when they encountered a “big wildfire” and Henson’s trail was lost.
Later, a U.S. forestry agent tracked Henson to an area near the Black River in Wayne County and declared himself a federal agent. Henson turned and pointed a loaded crossbow at him. The agent ducked and drew his weapon, but Henson “stumbled into the Black River and escaped the other side,” the probable cause said in a statement.
A few hours later, near County Road 401, where Henson crashed the Dodge, Missouri Highway Patrol and US Forest Service agents stopped a shirtless man in jeans with a lighter and a crossbow. This man turned out to be Henson, who was placed under arrest.
According to a probable cause statement, Henson admitted to authorities that he stole a Dodge truck and pointed a crossbow at a forestry agent, although he said he had no intention of shooting him.
The Ruger pistol was recovered from the fire pit, and police aides say Henson admitted to trying to burn the pistol.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Henson allegedly set the three wildfires to confuse law enforcement. One of the fires occurred in Butler County, the other two in Wayne County.
Forest Service agents estimated that the Henson fires burned seven to eight acres of the Mark Twain National Forest.
In addition to the federal charges, Henson is currently facing a variety of state charges, including robbery, resisting arrest, and armed crime.
Prior to the incident in the woods, in August and September, Henson had been arrested for possession of methamphetamine.
Henson also faced civil suit and criminal charges in Wayne County stemming from that summer, when Henson’s then-landlord accused him of stealing storm doors, water pipes, and electrical wiring from a home Henson had previously rented.
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