Escaped inmate recaptured

Published 11:44 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

The federal inmate who escaped from the Covington County Jail New Year’s Day was captured en route to his Mobile County home after only nine hours of freedom.

T.C. Harris Jr., 42, had been housed in the county jail since Dec. 19 for violating his federal probation conditions under the federal inmate housing contract with the U.S. Marshal’s Service. However, sometime after 12:30 p.m., Harris, a Whistler, Ala., native, allegedly scaled a side fence at the jail and escaped.

Covington County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Wesley Snodgrass said Harris was injured during his escape.

“Harris escaped from the (county jail’s) exercise yard and climbed the outside fence, cutting himself in the process,” Snodgrass said. “Information from an alert citizen said Harris may have gotten a ride from a local (who was unaware he was an escaped inmate).”

Locally, law enforcement — which boasted representatives from nearly every agency in the county — launched a manhunt for Harris. Two Dale County Sheriff’s Office helicopters were also loaned to the county to assist in the search, which concluded shortly after 5 p.m. as darkness fell.

Snodgrass said the tip prompted law enforcement to issue a “Be On the Lookout,” or BOLO, for the local’s vehicles.

“A Conecuh County deputy located the vehicle, and through interviewing the citizen, Deputy U.S. Marshals and CCSO investigators were able to gather information about Harris’ whereabouts,” he said.

U.S. Marshals located and arrested Harris in the Mobile area around 9:30 p.m.

Harris will face federal escape charges stemming from the incident, Snodgrass said.

“Although Harris was housed here, he is still a federal inmate,” he said. “(The CCSO was) just contracted to house him. He was and is a federal inmate.”

While no other details surrounding Harris’ escape were released, Snodgrass said the CCSO is continuing to work the jail side of the case.

Snodgrass said the sheriff “is aware and looking at whether the case warrants any additional charges against inmates who may or may not have assisted” Harris in his escape.