A nine-hour manhunt came to an end Saturday evening, after a man suspected of stealing a pickup led Palo Pinto authorities on a high-speed chase.

The incident began when authorities received a call about 10:30 a.m. that a pickup had been stolen from Circle H convenience store on US Highway 281 and Interstate 20.

A sheriff's deputy in an unmarked car was in the area when the call came in and was able to trail the stolen pickup, Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer said.

The suspect, Jason Howard Auvenshine, 37, then led deputies on a high-speed chase several miles through town - smashing into light posts, fire hydrants and nearly hitting a man who was working in his yard - before coming to a stop at a local residence.

“He stopped when he hit a stump in a yard,” Mercer said. “Then he fled on foot into a wooded area. We lost him in the trees.”

Mercer said deputies searched the wooded area and conducted house-to-house searches for several hours before calling in man-tracking dogs, horses, search teams, and a Department of Public Safety helicopter to aid in the search.

“Finally, about 7:15 that evening, we received four simultaneous calls from residents who had spotted a man in Palo Pinto matching the suspect's description,” Mercer said. “He had made it into town and had somehow managed to change his clothes.”

Authorities “squared off” the area the suspect was in, and found him hiding in a shed. Auvenshine was arrested and faces a variety of charges including possession of a firearm by a felon, evading arrest, two counts of theft and criminal mischief. He also faces charges in Erath County.

Stephenville police said Auvenshine is suspected of stealing, then crashing a white Chevrolet pickup into a guardrail on the South Loop last week. Inside the stolen pickup were drugs and several items believed to have been stolen from a DeLeon veterinary clinic.

Auvenshine, who is on parole after serving time for burglary and narcotics possession, is being held in the Palo Pinto County Jail, Mercer said. His bond has been denied.

SARA VANDEN BERGE is Managing Editor of the Empire Tribune