Alabama: Suspected Burglar Found Dead After Tied To Tree By Homeowner

Alabama homeowner, Nathanial Johnson, 68, had been burglarized multiple times, so he set up a trap to catch a suspected burglar. However, that trap ended with the burglar tied to a tree and deceased.

According to Washington County Sheriff Richard Stringer, there was an unusual turn of events on Friday night, when a homeowner caught a suspected burglar breaking into his Leroy residence at around midnight and tied him up.

As reported by Fox News, Johnson, the homeowner in question, had set up a trap in an endeavor to stop the string of burglaries at his mobile home in Spurgeon Road, Leroy, about 60 miles north of Mobile.

The wily homeowner decided to park his vehicle at a neighbor’s place on Friday night and then returned to his home and waited.

The homeowner wasn’t disappointed. Johnson told sheriff’s deputies that at some time just before midnight, he heard someone knock on the front door of his home. When Johnson refrained from opening the door, the person then headed to his back door and broke the lock, breaking into the mobile home.

Johnson told the police that at that stage he met the burglar – who has since been identified as 31-year-old Cleveland Jones Gully – at the back door and immediately chased him out of the house.

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Gully – who reportedly already had a reputation for breaking into people’s homes – then either fell or jumped from the back steps of the mobile home. Johnson says that it was at that time that he managed to jump on Gully, tackling him and tying his hands behind his back.

According to Sheriff Stringer, Johnson then placed duct tape over Gully’s mouth and tied him to a nearby tree. The irate homeowner also, reportedly, securely wrapped the suspected burglar in multiple layers of insulated electrical tape and clothes line to the trunk of the tree.

According to a report by, Johnson said it was at that point that he left the accused burglar tied up to the tree and returned to his neighbor’s home to call the police.

“(Gully) was still alive at that point, and there was no indication that he was dying,” Stringer said.

However, 10 minutes later, when the sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, they found Gully dead.

According to Stringer, the suspected burglar had no visible injuries, other than cuts around his body from the wire that was used to secure him to the tree. Stringer said that an autopsy will be performed on Gully’s body to determine the cause of death.

Stringer said that witnesses to the incident had told police that Johnson did not intend to kill the suspected burglar. They stated the homeowner merely wanted to stop Gully from breaking into his home.

There have been no criminal charges filed against Johnson so far, and Stringer isn’t sure there will be in the future. According to police, the homeowner wasn’t armed with a firearm.

Stringer said they will most likely present the case to the grand jury to see what they have to say about it.

[Photo via Flickr by Scott Davidson, cropped and resized/CC BY 2.0]