An escaped inmate was captured early Thursday morning, thanks to a resident with a handgun and a Jack Russell terrier.
Benjamin Clarence Crapse escaped a prison work detail Wednesday afternoon, leading law enforcement on an overnight hunt that ended less than a half mile from the Bulloch County landfill, from where Crapse fled during a lunch break, said Bulloch County Correctional Institute Warden Chris Hill.
Bulloch County Sheriff Noel Brown said Deerfield subdivision resident John Jenkins let his Jack Russell terrier out around 8 a.m. Thursday when the dog started barking at Jenkins' shed.
The dog, Addie, "went straight to my Handi-house and started barking," Jenkins said. "Then she came back to the porch and sat down. She never does that."
Jenkins had his wife keep watch while he dressed and grabbed a handgun. He looked through a shed window and didn't see anybody inside, but when he opened the door, his wife saw Crapse and "screamed bloody murder," he said.
Crapse, 34, was wrapped in some old paint drop cloths, and told Jenkins he was "cold, wet and hurt" and that he was homeless. But when Jenkins recognized him as being the escaped inmate due to tattoos on his neck, he raised his gun and demanded Crapse "get down."
Crapse didn't, instead getting up and fleeing the shed. Jenkins continued to order him to stop and "get down, or I'm going to kill you," he said.
Seeing Crapse had no weapon, Jenkins fired a warning shot into the air, but Crapse kept running. Jenkins later found a folding knife where Crapse had been lying - a knife that did not belong to Jenkins.
Jenkins followed Crapse to the end of the road, and when he saw prison vans, "I hollered at them ‘there he is right there.' In 10 seconds there were 25 police officers there."
Crapse "tore out like a rabbit," Hill said. But with so many officers on the scene, having been searching for Crapse all night, it was no time before he was apprehended, he said. "The K9 (a Georgia Department of Corrections dog from Valdosta) cornered him and he surrendered."
"I'm still trying to get it all to sink in, Jenkins said. "I don't know how I handled the situation. I'm not a hero by any means." He said his law enforcement training may have helped; Jenkins said he once worked with the Bulloch County Sheriff's office.
Crapse had been on a work detail at the landfill with seven other inmates, unloading trucks, when he climbed the fence and fled during a lunchbreak around noon, Hill said.
When guards saw Crapse flee, an immediate alert went out, and first on the scene was a Statesboro Police officer who was close by at his home. Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies responded within five minutes, Brown said.
Brown praised Jenkins for his help, and said assistance from alert residents is always welcome.
"I have one set of eyes and one set of ears," he said. "I believe in people and there is strength in numbers." He said the established perimeter with sheer numbers of law enforcement officers in the area helped keep Crapse in the vicinity.
Assistance from a number of agencies came shortly, with Georgia State Patrol troopers, Statesboro Police officers, and Georgia Department of Correction officers joining deputies and others. "We formed a perimeter" and started searching, Brown said.
Bulloch County Corrections crews, including workers from the solid waste and transportation department, also assisted. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and Georgia State Patrol aviation unit also responded, he said.
Crapse is charged with escape and second degree burglary (for breaking into Jenkins' shed.) He was transported to Smith State Prison in Glennville, which Hill said is a higher security prison.
Crapse will likely participate in a tier program, which means he will be allowed an hour of recreational time daily and have limited visitation, being in "semi-isolation" from the rest of the population, he said.
Crapse was serving a sentence at the Bulloch County Correctional Institute for convictions of theft by receiving stolen property, fraud and fourth-degree forgery in Richmond County, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Incarcerated in January, he would have been released by November.
Hill said the escape charge alone likely means Crapse will face an addition of five years to his sentence. Brown said the burglary charge may result in even more time.