Escaped Bledsoe inmate captured near Knoxville - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Escaped Bledsoe inmate captured near Knoxville

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BLEDSOE COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Thomas Masengale took Bledsoe County deputies for a wild ride Monday morning.

The sheriff says Masengale escaped from the jail after grabbing the keys to a police cruiser and heading north, reaching Anderson County just outside of Knoxville.

There deputies found the car and the suspect not too far ahead.

"He ditched the car on the side of the road and we pulled over and didn't give us any resistance," Sheriff Jimmy Morris says.

Our camera was rolling as the stolen cruiser was brought back to the jail.

Masengale was a prisoner of Bradley County but had served the last two years in Bledsoe.

He has a long criminal record with nearly two dozen arrests, but lately he was reportedly a model inmate.

He was at the jail long enough to earn "Trustee" status which gave him free reign to mop the floors or help around the office if help is needed.

His latest assignment was managing the jail garden. It's a privilege the sheriff says every trustee doesn't get.

"You just start working them and watch their behavior, and it is something that you don't just pick them out, it is earned."

He's the first inmate to escape since the new jail was built and trustee's usually don't risk the chance of losing their freedom.

It was easy to find him. The sheriff just used a tracking device in the car to follow Masengale's route north.

As to why he did it; he just felt like it.

"I asked him what is your deal and he said I don't know. I'm just running," says Morris.

He was arrested and brought to the Bledsoe County Jail around noon.

Masengale faces more charges including escaping.

He no longer has Trustee status.

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