Police do not believe an accused sexual predator was spotted in Lebanon Thursday.
“We got a call Thursday down at Spence Creek about a suspicious person in a suspicious vehicle,” said Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen.
According to Bowen, a 12-year-old boy reported he was walking along Gibson Drive when a man pulled up and offered him a ride.
Rumors quickly spread through the community and online that the boy identified Wilson County fugitive Stephen Beck, 42, as the man who approached him.
Bowen said that’s not quite right.
“At the time we spoke to [the boy] Thursday, he could not give us a vehicle description nor a description of the person,” said Bowen.
He also said Lebanon police collaborated with the sheriff’s department when Beck’s name surfaced.
“None of us have any credible information that would lead us to believe that Beck is in the area,” said Bowen.
“I really don’t know how Beck’s name got into it,” said Sheriff Robert Bryan. “If it was [Beck], we’d be jumping through hoops trying to get to him.”
The sheriff’s department has been looking for Beck since he failed to appear in Judge David Durham’s court on July 25, 2011.
Beck, who is charged with multiple counts of rape, child rape and sexual exploitation of minors, was scheduled to enter a plea that day.
He was out on a $150,000 bond in Wilson County and a $1 million bond in Rutherford County.
Beck is listed as one of the TBI’s 10 Most Wanted and Wilson County’s Most Wanted, and he was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” several times.
Bowen said investigators tracked down the sources for all the rumors circulating, including the vehicle description and reported tag number.
“We thoroughly investigated each statement,” said Bowen. “All we have is a suspicious person in a suspicious vehicle…He never did try to grab the child or anything like that.”
Regardless, said Bowen, police have still increased patrol in the area, just in case.
“We’re keeping it hot down there looking for anybody,” said Bowen.