VIOLA, Mo. (KSPR) - Law enforcement officers searched a heavily wooded area near Table Rock Lake for about 30 hours for a man who assaulted two people on Monday. Sheriff Doug Rader says Clinton Martin lives in a tent in those woods and knows the area well.
Officers on foot and in the air looked for Martin from Monday evening until Wednesday afternoon. Officers spotted and chased him on foot on Tuesday but he eluded them. They also spotted him from afar a second time but couldn't get to him.
A man called the Stone County Sheriff’s Department on Monday and said Martin assaulted him. He said he met Martin near Table Rock Lake, off Hendrickson School Road, north of Highway H and east of Missouri 39. The man said they were talking when Martin assaulted him, the sheriff says.
The deputies who took that assault report went to talk to Martin. They chased him on food through the woods before they lost sight of him.
Later on Monday afternoon, another person tried to talk to Martin about the assault. That person said Martin reached into the vehicle and stabbed that person several times in the face, shoulder, chest and lower abdomen.
That victim received serious injuries but was in good condition by Wednesday, Rader said.
Sheriff’s deputies from Stone and Barry counties and state troopers started looking for Martin on Monday evening. A Highway Patrol helicopter crew participated in the search.
A third call about Martin came in during the search. This time, he was reported to be breaking into a home. He got away again.
"He tried a home invasion about a mile and a half down the road for a separate victim that he did know and ended up breaking windows out and slashing tires," Rader said in an interview.
The sheriff says Martin keeps getting away because of where he lives.
"He's lived in those woods for a year. He knows those woods very well, so he's hard to track down in the woods," the sheriff said.
Investigators set up a search area off Highway H where they think he might be hiding, because they don't know what he might do next.
"It's very frustrating but our job at this point is to try to get him into custody before he hurts somebody else," said Rader.
Even though the active search ended on Wednesday, deputies and troopers are still on the lookout for Martin. Anyone who knows where Martin might be can call 9-1-1. Officers assume he is armed and dangerous. Rader says Martin, 38, is an “uncompliant” sex offender from Polk County.
Online court records show Martin pleaded guilty in Polk County in 2004 to first-degree statutory sodomy for assaulting a child under age 14 in 2002. He received a 10-year prison sentence.