Former pastor accused of abuse captured in Florida

by: Paul Boyd Updated:

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - A former North Carolina pastor who's been on the run for months has just been captured.

John Yelton is charged with child abuse, false imprisonment and communicating threats.

He's also accused of using his position as a preacher to target women and then abuse them.

Seven women, including his ex-wife April Justice, told Whistleblower 9 in February about what they described as nightmare relationships with Yelton.

Justice said she walked in on Yelton hitting her 9-year-old daughter.

"(He) hit her. Kicked her. She had bruises on her arms, legs, face and everything," Justice said.

Yelton denies all of the charges, but after Channel 9's report aired, he left town skipping out on $6,500 bond.

Mark Longworth, with Huss Bail Bonds in Newtown, signed off on the bond so he was left holding the bill.

"I got some information after doing some investigative work and found out he was in Panama City, Florida," Longworth told Channel 9.

Longworth drove his vehicle to Florida to arrest him. Yelton wasn't preaching anymore. He was working at a local manufacturing job.

"He was just surprised to see me," Longworth said. "The only thing he really said was he was moving to Florida to get a new life, and after that, he really didn't say much else."

Yelton's hands were cuffed and his legs shackled in the back of the car. He was driven back to North Carolina and handed over to the Catawba County Sheriff's Office. A judge set a new bond of $10,000.

"That's my job to the court is to make sure that I get him back, so that's what we do," Longworth said.

Yelton is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 15.

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