published Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Man makes second escape from Bledsoe

The Bledsoe County Sheriff’s Office is combing the area for an inmate who escaped Monday through a steel door and over a razor-wire fence at the Bledsoe County Jail.

Paula Peters, Bledsoe County jail administrator, said officials believe James “Ellis” Russell, of Pikeville, Tenn., jimmied the lock of the steel door in his cell, which opened onto an outdoors fenced-in area. From there, Mr. Russell somehow got over the heavy razor wire covering the top of the fence.

Authorities said they’re searching for him across surrounding counties.

“We’ve tried to cover all bases of where he may be,” said Bledsoe County Sheriff Jim Morris. “We’re just going to keep searching.”

TO HELP

If you have information about Ellis Russell, call the Bledsoe Sheriff’s Office at 423-447-2197

DESCRIPTION OF ELLIS RUSSELL

* White male

* Brown hair, mustache and beard

* Hazel eyes

* 6 foot 1, 160 pounds

Source: Bledsoe County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Morris said he believes Mr. Russell may be headed for Indiana, where he originally lived. The sheriff’s office has sent notices to all surrounding agencies to be on the lookout, he said.

This is the second time Mr. Russell has slipped out of official hands.

Ms. Peters said he escaped from the Bledsoe County Courthouse two weeks ago when he first learned he’d be arrested for missing two court dates on a domestic assault charge.

He was caught, hit with felony escape charges and incarcerated at Bledsoe County Jail before the escape, she said. He has now racked up two counts of felony escape charges along with his original count of domestic assault and two counts of failure to appear in court.

Ms. Peters said the new Bledsoe County Jail, which the sheriff’s office plans to open in November, will be better equipped to prevent such escapes.

“Hopefully, this will never happen again,” she said.

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