UPDATE: Escaped inmate has criminal record - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Escaped inmate has criminal record

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UPDATE: The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department confirms Randy Belcher is back in custody.

The Silverdale inmate was apprehended Friday morning. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department worked with officials in Catoosa County, GA. to catch him.

Belcher escaped Thursday afternoon after being assigned work detail at Chester Frost Park. He told a supervising Parks and Recreation employee he was going to the bathroom. But instead, he stole a Hamilton County maintenance truck that police later found in Red Bank. And Friday, they found Belcher in Catoosa County.

Parks and Rec Director Ron Priddy said in his two decades with the department, this is a first.

"Our policy is not to leave the keys in the truck but the employee made a mistake yesterday and they were in the truck," Ron Priddy said.

Priddy said it's always been manageable keeping tabs on the 5-7 inmates working at the park six days a week.

But then there's Belcher.

He'd been locked up at Silverdale since mid-February on probation violation. And we found he's been in trouble before.

Channel 3 featured Belcher in Crimestoppers in 2000 when he pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery after hitting several local convenient stores. He hit another gas station in 2007. By 2008, he and his wife were arrested in three strong arm robberies in which he pleaded down to theft. Just last April, the court took away his license for two years after a DUI charge. But that didn't stop him from taking a joy ride in a county car.

The question: Why was he allowed at Chester Frost Park under the supervision of only a few Parks and Rec employees?

"We have no control over who we get. Silverdale assigns. We just call them and tell them a number that we need and they send the people and we don't know anything about their background or anything," Priddy said.

Priddy said Hamilton County doesn't pick which inmates to use and that he didn't know about Belcher's past. He said it's up to Silverdale to pick the workers. But in a phone call Friday morning with Channel 3, Silverdale's public information officer pointed the finger at Hamilton County.

In the meantime, Priddy said while no one will be disciplined, he's meeting with all employees to emphasize the rules and added the public should not be afraid to spend time at the park.

"Mainly it's a good program and we use them quite a bit, mainly to benefit our program and to help the park," Priddy said.

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Law enforcement in Hamilton County is searching for an escaped inmate. 

Around 11:45 a.m. Thursday Randy Nelson Belcher, an inmate at Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) escaped from an assigned to a work detail at Chester Frost Park.

He failed to return from a bathroom break and it was soon discovered a Hamilton County maintenance truck in the area had been stolen.

The missing truck was later found in the City of Red Bank at the dead end of Barker Road.

Warrants have been issued charging Randy Nelson Belcher with Escape from a Penal Institution and Theft over $10,000.

Belcher remains at large.  He is described as a white male age 40, 6' 3" weighing 205lbs. He was being held at CCA on the charge of Probation Violation.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is requesting anyone who has information on the whereabouts of Randy N. Belcher to call the Sheriff's dispatcher at 423-622-0022.


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