Bledsoe County: Inmate Escapes in Local Pastor's Truck - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Bledsoe county inmate captured

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BLEDSOE COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: Bledsoe County jail administrators in Pikeville tell Channel 3 they found escapee, Daniel Williams.

Officials also tell Channel 3 they found a truck dumped by Williams in Sweetwater Tuesday morning, but found Williams in McMinn County a short while ago.

Stay with Channel 3 and WRCBtv.com for the latest on this story.   


PREVIOUS STORY: The search is on for an inmate in Bledsoe County, who escaped a rehabilitation program on Saturday.

Deputies tell Channel 3 Eyewitness News inmate Daniel Williams, 40 escaped from a rehabilitation program this weekend, that allowed inmates to help clean up after a Church Christmas Program. 

Senior Pastor Jim Whitaker tells Channel 3, Williams who has worked in the program on several projects last year, escaped by driving off in his truck.

Deputies say Williams is a low-risk inmate who was being held on burglary and theft charges. He is not considered to be dangerous, however he is in big trouble.

"I'd say they better find him sooner than later. Any inmate behind bars is pretty dangerous as far as I'm concerned," said resident Wendell Sincell

Williams who has had good behavior since he was taken into custody back in January of 2013, was allowed to be part of the rehabilitation program offered at First Southern Baptist Church in Pikeville. 

The program allows a select few too leave jail for community service work. Many inmates have spent the last year helping the church run it's Clothing Closet and monthly food pantry that helps feed more than 30 families in need each month.

Williams has worked the past year without incident. He was last seen cleaning up after a Christmas program and taking out the trash on Saturday.

"He took my truck, as you saw when I came in I lay my keys down all the time," said Paster Whitaker. "It's just a habit maybe I need to break. We hate for one person to bring such a cloud over such a great ministry that's helping men and changing lives,"

Pastor Whitaker tells Channel 3 he doesn't believe Williams is a dangerous person, he says he just may have been worried about his family.

"In the last 2 weeks he's had some serious family issues, a father diagnosed with cancer and a brother diagnosed with cancer," said Pastor Whitaker.

Two county guards as well as church officials are tasked with keeping an eye on the inmates who participate in the program.

"I am a guard, I am a certified guard I have gone through training. I should have kept a better watch over him. It's an eye awakener for us. Our staff needs to be more aware of what's going on and we understand that," said Whitaker. 

While inmates do wear their orange suits when out on work duty, Williams was last seen on surveillance cameras wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans. 

Officials believe he may have stole those clothes out from the church's clothing closet before taking off. 

Deputies say Daniel Williams is 6'1 about 173 pounds. He has dark hair, brown eyes, a beard and neck tattoo. If you see him or know his whereabouts call the Bledsoe County Sheriffs Department

Williams could face additional charges for stealing the pastor's truck and escaping.

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