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ASHLAND DAILY TIDINGS * EXCLUSIVE*

Wanted on drug-related charges

Rescued man wanted in Arizona

— — —

Elbert Higginbotham talks with the Tidings about — his pending legal troubles in Arizona.

— Photo by Orville Hector | Ashland Daily — Tidings

Elbert Higginbotham and his wife Rebecca Ann Bess aren&

t out of the woods yet.

Though Higginbotham and his family were rescued from the mountains west of Glendale on Tuesday, the national media attention reminded police in Arizona that the Higgenbothams had eluded them on methamphetamine charges.

&

There is an active warrant for Mr. Higgenbotham and his wife,&

Deputy Commander Kelly Clark, of the Navajo County Sheriff&

s Department, said today. &

We&

re waiting for a decision to extradite them.&

The warrant was issued on Wednesday. Clark said Higgenbotham and his wife had disappeared and authorities had no idea where they had gone, until their experience in Southern Oregon landed them on national TV.

&

We were quite surprised when we saw them on TV,&

he said.

Higgenbotham and Bess, who goes by Becky Higgenbotham, were arrested, but never charged, on three felony charges, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of a shotgun.

Clark, who is in charge of the narcotics division for the Navajo County Sheriff&

s Office, said Higgenbotham and his wife had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement so the couple was not charged.

&

We let them go because they expressed an interest in working with law enforcement,&

Clark said. &

We haven&

t seen hide nor hair of him since. He didn&

t hold up his end of the bargain.&

Today, standing outside the apartment that was surrounded by local and national media Wednesday, Higgenbotham said he did turn over an amount of packed methamphetamine to Navajo County Sheriffs but said the drugs were not his.

&

I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,&

he said.

Police and Higgenbotham say he was house-sitting for a friend who owned the trailer on Black County Road in Heber, Ariz., when police raided the location on April 21, 2005.

&

We weren&

t dealing in any way shape or form,&

Higginbotham said. &

We told the cops who were doing it and now they are making it out like we did it.&

He said he had used the drug but has been clean for some time now.

But Clark said Higgenbotham &

admitted in an interview he had been selling it.&

Higgenbotham said he is intent on getting to the bottom of this new development and would be contacting Arizona authorities after a press conference today.

&

I&

ve done some stupid things in my life,&

he said. &

If I&

ve got to pay for, then I&

ll pay for it. I&

ve got to call them and take care of business. We don&

t run from things.&

He admitted to knowing the drug was in the house. &

We found it in the laundry room,&

Higgenbotham said, recounting the day police raided the house he was staying in. &

We knew it was in there but it wasn&

t ours. I came out and gave it to [the police]. I believe this is entrapment. We&

ve always been law abiding. We&

re trying to get our act together.&

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.