published Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Police Briefs: Escaped inmate back in custody

Escaped inmate back in custody

Randy Belcher, who escaped from a Silverdale Correctional Facility work crew Thursday, is back in custody.

He was apprehended Friday morning after the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office worked with Catoosa County, Ga., officials to catch him, according to a news release.

Belcher, 40, was assigned to a work detail at Chester Frost Park when he failed to return from a bathroom break about 11:45 a.m., according to the sheriff's office. It soon was discovered that a Hamilton County maintenance truck was missing, too. The truck was found later at the dead end of Barker Road in Red Bank.

Belcher is charged with escape from a penal institution and theft over $10,000.


Change smoke detector batteries

The state fire marshal's office is asking Tennessee residents to inspect their smoke alarms when they change their clocks this weekend for daylight saving time.

In a news release, Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak also urged everyone to consider the age of their smoke alarms.

McPeak said alarms, even those that are hard-wired, should have their batteries replaced regularly and should be tested monthly, and that alarms 10 years or more old should be replaced.

Statistics show nearly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke alarms, the release stated.


Birt charged with homicide

Marcus "Railhead" Birt was seen limping with blood on his hands and clothes two blocks away from where 33-year-old Warren Ransom's body was found March 1 at a closed car lot at 1123 Hooker Road.

Birt had been carrying a small silver handgun and was trying to sell a car stereo police believe was taken from Ransom's 2003 Chevy Impala. Ransom was shot to death. A witness told authorities that Birt had been "grazed."

Birt, a Mafia Insane Vice Lord gang member, remains in jail on a $1.15 million bond, facing charges of especially aggravated robbery, criminal homicide and unlicensed carrying or possessing a weapon. Local court records show that Birt, 33, has an extensive criminal history with convictions for burglary, robbery, cocaine possession, escape from jail and domestic assault.

Police found Ransom's vehicle, which showed signs of a traffic crash, behind a business, Swiss-Am Inc., at 1401 E. 34th St. Blood covered the inside of the car. The car stereo had been removed.

Police say Birt went to 1214 E. 34th St. to hide his clothing and gun.

Ransom, who was the father of two boys, is the sixth homicide victim of the year. Five of the homicides are the result of gun violence.

Birt's next court date is set for Tuesday before General Sessions Court Judge David Bales.

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