A judge recently told the Independent Mail he usually keeps his SUV locked.
But Cordell Maddox was in a hurry when he pulled into the parking lot of an Anderson convenience store late Tuesday afternoon.
Maddox, who was running late for Elton's concert in Augusta, Ga., said he noticed a man standing next to a truck outside the Plez U store at 200 Concord Road. Leaving his 2008 GMC Acadia running, the judge hustled into the store to buy some sinus medicine.
When the 53-year-old man came back out, his silver SUV and the stranger were both gone and so was an opportunity to make it to the concert.
Minutes after Maddox reported that his vehicle had been stolen, authorities began a high-speed chase that ended 90 miles later in Newberry County with the arrest of 50-year-old William Edward Freeman of Anderson.
Maddox said he had a horrible feeling as he and Judge Lawton McIntosh watched television news coverage of the pursuit, which reached speeds of up to 100 mph.
While Elton John was singing in Augusta, we were watching my car dodge 18-wheelers on the interstate, he said.
Freeman was being held Wednesday night at the Laurens County Detention Center on charges of attempted murder and failure to stop for blue lights. The attempted murder charge stems from a collision during Tuesdays chase involving Maddoxs Acadia and a Laurens County sheriffs patrol car.
A judge set Freemans bail Wednesday at $35,000, a jail spokesman said.
Freeman also could face additional charges in Anderson County, authorities revealed.
According to a police report, Maddox had several personal belongings in the car when it was stolen, including a 9 mm Chiefs Special handgun, a black briefcase, a set of Calloway golf clubs, medication and his wallet.
Maddox said Wednesday that the handgun was secured in a locked case and that the person who stole his vehicle never had access to the weapon.
The judge went to Newberry County on Wednesday to retrieve his SUV, which he said apparently suffered only a small amount of damage during the police chase.
He admitted that his experience as a crime victim could have an effect on his judicial duties.
I may have to recuse myself for a while from handling stolen car cases, he noted.