Escaped Gibson Co. inmates back in custody

TRENTON, Tenn. — Gibson county residents breathe a sigh of relief after two inmates, who have been on the run for a week, are back in custody. The pair were found almost 300 miles away and officials are crediting tips from the community with tracking them down. Deputies said Joseph Isbell and Jason Clapper went on a road trip of shorts over the past 7 days. Driving thousands of miles across a handful of states all in stolen cars. They ended up in Illinois where in the wee hours of the morning U.S. Marshals woke them up with handcuffs. “Thinking that these people were loose in our community for a week had a lot of people scared,” Gibson County Sheriff Paul Thomas said. “I want them to know that we were working diligently to get them back.” The inmates elaborate escape started a week earlier when deputies said they were unsupervised in a fenced in recreation area. “These escapes like this people are just opportunistic,” Sheriff Thomas said. “They see a weakness or a hole to slip through and they go for it.” Originally deputies thought Isbell and Clapper escaped from the recreation area by climbing up and over the fence and pushing aside razor wire, but after some investigation they found out they somehow broke the bottom of the fence and crawled out from underneath. “They were just able to pull the corner of the fence up just enough to slip through the crack,” Thomas said. “We haven’t used the rec yard since then.”

Sheriff Thomas said after getting out the two inmates played a little grand theft auto all the way to Florida. “My gut feeling is they stole a vehicle here and on the way to Florida they stopped in Jackson,” Thomas said. “There they switched out the license plates with the stolen car and went to Florida.” Once in Orlando deputies said the pair stole another vehicle before they made there way back west. “One had connections in Florida and one had them in Illinois,” Thomas said. “So we really felt like that’s where they would end up, one of the two places.” Although there not back in Trenton just yet, Sheriff Thomas said he will be ready to welcome them with open arms. “They’ll go in a special cell on lock down the minute their back,” Sheriff Thomas said. “Their days of rec time have probably come to end here in Gibson County.” Sheriff Thomas said over the next few weeks a new state-of-the-art security system will be installed in the jail to allow better monitoring of inmates. He also said they have repaired the fence in the rec yard to make sure an escape like this will not happen again. Both Isbell and Clapper will eventually be extradited back to Tennessee where they will face escape charges. Deputies said before that, they may also face additional charges out of Illinois and Florida.

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