OLD SAYBROOK, CT (WFSB) - There is some closure for a Connecticut family after a fugitive wanted for his role in a deadly drunk driving crash was arrested out-of-state.
As part of the Fugitive Files series, Channel 3 partnered with the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association in an effort to help bring fugitives to justice.
Following a Fugitive Files story that aired last week, Eyewitness News tips led to the arrest of John Shepard.
Back in 2013, Old Saybrook police said Shepard left the state after driving drunk and causing a rollover. He was off-roading in a Jeep Wrangler in Old Saybrook at the time.
His girlfriend then, Leah Coleman, later died from her injuries.
Channel 3 aired the story just 48 hours before his arrest. Now Shepard is in a Florida jail cell.
The nearly seven-year manhunt for Shepard ended after dozens of tips.
“I had no idea. I just figured that he was going to say, 'we got all these tips, we’re getting closer,'” said Robert Reynolds and Sharon Tiezzi, members of the victim's family.
Now, the cold case is closed.
Beforehand, arrest reports showed Shepard had a run-in with police in New Mexico. Other unconfirmed reports said he lived in Florida.
After the story aired on Fugitive Files last Thursday on Channel 3, dispatchers sat on standby, ready for tips to pour in.
“So your newscast was not off the air yet and we began receiving tips. Tips continued to come in at least for 24 hours after the segment aired,” said Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera.
Leads mostly pointed to Florida.
Police said Shepard quickly learned about the story, but law enforcement finally closed in on him as he tried to hide on a boat.
Saturday morning, his years-long run ended with him handcuffed, behind a Broward County Sheriff’s vehicle.
Until this moment, Coleman’s brother and sister pleaded for tips, even urging Shepard to turn himself in, but he didn’t.
“He just proved what a scumbag he is. That’s the only way I can put it nicely,” Robert Reynolds said.
Coleman's family said the arrest will never bring the beloved mother of two back, but it did allow them to start the journey towards healing.
“Our family can’t be more blessed to have had a department like this behind working on this and thank you,” Sharon Tiezzi said.
Old Saybrook police said Shepard is awaiting extradition. Once in Connecticut, he faces manslaughter charges.
Chief Spera released a statement Saturday following Shepard's arrest:
Since the airing of fugitive files Thursday night at 11pm on Channel 3, numerous tips on the whereabouts of John Shepard were been received. These credible tips led Old Saybrook Detectives on a path across state lines in an attempt to locate Shepard who is wanted for Manslaughter after causing the death of his girlfriend in an alcohol related accident in 2013. Overnight and during the day Saturday, Old Saybrook Police have been coordinating with the Broward County Sheriff Department’s Fugitive Task Force running down each lead received. With the help of Channel 3 viewers and the people in Florida who they forwarded the fugitive files story to, Shepard’s seven (7) year run for from the law ended Saturday morning when he was taken into custody. Shephard after learning the law was closing in on him, left where he was staying to hide on a boat where he was located. Shepard will be booked in the Broward County Florida Jail and will await extradition proceedings.