Fugitive former sheriff's deputy wanted in two counties captured

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A fugitive wanted for a home invasion, kidnapping and armed carjacking in the southwest suburbs was captured Thursday morning at a home in rural LaSalle County.

Lowell “Max” Ambler, 46, a former LaSalle County sheriff’s deputy, was peacefully taken into custody about 8:45 a.m. in Earlville, about 35 miles west of Aurora, according to Plainfield police.

Ambler had active arrest warrants in Lee and LaSalle counties for violating bond and violating an order of protection, police said. He was considered armed and dangerous.

But LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton said at a press conference that the former deputy “walked out of the home peacefully” after speaking with a negotiator, and said Ambler’s father and sister were also at the home and “I think that helped.”

The search for Ambler began about noon Tuesday when police received an alert from Illinois State Police that he was believed to be headed to Plainfield in a stolen semi truck, police said. The truck was later found on Normantown Road near 119th Street.

At 8:24 a.m. Wednesday, officers responded to a carjacking on 119th Street west of Van Dyke Road, police said. The victim was at a relative’s home when a man matching Ambler’s description requested a ride, took out a handgun and demanded his vehicle.

The victim turned over his burgundy 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe and the carjacker immediately drove off, police said. The Hyundai was found later in the day in LaSalle County.

Templeton said deputies spotted a man matching Ambler’s description on a path near a cemetery in a wooded area near Earlville, Ambler’s hometown, on Wednesday night, but a search was called off because of darkness.

When deputies returned Wednesday morning, they found a tent and the stolen Hyundai. A Glock 45-caliber pistol was also recovered.

“He had camped in those woods, he knew those woods,” the sheriff said when asked how Ambler avoided arrest.

Police later received a 911 call saying Ambler was in the home where he was finally apprehended, Templeton said. “We’re not sure if he broke in or if they let him in,” but “they knew him.”

When police arrived, a woman came out of the house, unharmed, and police began negotiating, Templeton said.

The search had earlier prompted a soft lockdown at Plainfield North High School, police said. And on Thursday morning, Earlville Community Unit School District 9 canceled school for the day after police told them Ambler might still be in the area.

Ambler was initially arrested in August on charges of kidnapping, home invasion and violating an order of protection, the sheriff said. He was released on a $25,000 bond.

But at some point he contacted a witness in the case, which was a bond violation, so a judge raised his bond to $2 million, the sheriff said.

Ambler evaded arrest twice in the following weeks, before stealing the truck Tuesday, he said.

Asked if the arrest was tough on his officers, Templeton said “It is never easy, no matter who it is, but the bottom line is what it is … we have to do our jobs.”

As to what set Ambler off on the crime spree, the sheriff said he did not for sure, but “he had issues.”

Ambler being held at the Lee County Jail in Dixon on a $1 million bond for violation of bond conditions from his original home invasion and aggravated kidnapping, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s office. Plainfield and LaSalle County may be seeking additional charges.