Months-long manhunt for Polk Co. fugitive Eleno Suarez ends with arrest in Frostproof home

FROSTPROOF, Fla. - The months-long manhunt for fugitive Eleno Suarez has ended after his arrest in Frostproof on Thursday night.

Suarez was arrested in a home at 10 Pearl Hopson Road in Frostproof around 5:30 p.m., in a joint operation between the US Marshal's Service and the Polk County Sheriff's Office, according to PCSO spokesperson Carrie Eleazer.

Suarez has been wanted for multiple crimes, including armed robbery and opening fire on deputies during an August chase that he was able to escape from to remain at large. Eleazer sais Suarez was tracked to the home and a K9 was sent in to find him. The K9 found him in a bedroom and latched onto him.

Suarez was unarmed when he was arrested, Eleazer said. The agencies obtained information earlier in the day that led them to Suarez. Eleazer couldn't say where the tip came from.

Eleazer said three other people at the home were also arrested after allegedly lying about Suarez being in the home. "They knew he was in the house and denied it."

They will be charged with obstruction of justice, but have not been identified Thursday night.

Suarez was transported to Lake Wales Regional Hospital for treatment of the dog bite.

He was released Thursday night and was being transported to the Polk County Jail in Bartow.

On July 22, Suarez is accused of taking part in an armed robbery and carjacking at a home on Oakridge Drive in Frostproof around 10 p.m.

Deputies caught up to Saurez and a group of friends on the early morning of Aug. 3 along Hwy. 64, between Wauchula in Hardee County and Avon Park in Highlands County.
The group fled and "during the pursuit, Suarez, who was driving [a] Focus, fired multiple shots at PCSO deputies," PCSO spokesperson Donna Wood said at the time. No deputies were injured.

Suarez later crashed during the 3-county chase that ended in a rural area outside Wauchula. The five men with Suarez were taken into custody, but he got away into the groves and farmland where they crashed.

He remained at large into Sunday morning and a search was called off. It was relaunched when he was spotted by several people later that morning.

A Hardee County Sheriff's official said a person thought to be Suarez went to a migrant worker area along the rural highway, asked for shoes and clothes, and was given them by workers who did not know that he was a wanted suspect.

An attendant at a nearby gas station, Susan Ornelas, said a man who lives along the highway was approached by Suarez, who asked him if he could use his phone.

The man let him and he made a call to an unknown person. HCSO officials confirmed Suarez had made a call, but would not say to whom.

The man became suspicious and called law enforcement after Suarez had left. He was later informed the man was Suarez.

"He knocked on his door, about 9 o'clock in the morning, wanting to use the telephone," Ornelas said, "and I said, 'Why didn't you call the cops? Why didn't you grab this guy?' And he said he didn't know. He let him use the phone and then he called the cops."

The attendant said Suarez was also at her gas station at one point Sunday, hiding in bushes, when he came out, tapped on a vehicle's window and asked for a ride. The driver declined.

Suarez fled from the gas station. Multiple law enforcement units flooded the area, but Suarez had disappeared again.

Print this article Back to Top