Randolph Co. Jail procedures to change after inmate escape

Robert Lewis (Provided Photo/Randolph County Sheriff's Department)

WINCHESTER, Ind. (WISH) — Police across the country are on the lookout for an inmate who escaped from the Randolph County Jail Monday morning.

The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Douglas Fritz said they do not know where 26-year-old Robert Dean Lewis could be.

He said detectives are checking with his family and friends.

Late Monday, WISH-TV got word that he could be in a black 1990 Ford F-150, with a gray stripe on the bottom and running boards and Indiana license number TK796MHQ.

While the search continues, some jail procedures will be changing to prevent another escape like this one.

At the Randolph County Jail, low risk inmates with good behavior can apply to be “trustees” on either cleaning or kitchen duty.

Inmate Robert Lewis, incarcerated for burglary, was a placed on the crew about a month ago.

“Good behavior, never had any problems with him, polite, hard worker,” Fritz said.

That’s why Fritz said the escape was a shock.

“Robert Dean Lewis was working as a trustee with our department. They were doing some cleaning in the lobby,” he said.

About 3:30 a.m., the jail employee supervising him stepped into the bathroom to pick up a trash bag and Lewis saw an opportunity.

“He just walked out the front door and was gone,” Fritz said. “The whole area was saturated within about 5 minutes with police officers.”

Officers searched the neighborhoods and alerted towns nearby, but they weren’t able to find Lewis.

“A lot of wooded areas, this is a rural community, a lot of areas where he could have left the roadway within a half mile and hid for a while,” Fritz said.

Fritz said an all points bulletin was issued, meaning every law enforcement agency in the United States knows to be on the lookout for Lewis.

“We do believe he’s left the county,” Fritz said. “Our detectives are in the middle of that investigation and they’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of them.”

Fritz said they’ve had trustee inmates cleaning that lobby for about 20 years and they’ve never had anyone run off like Lewis.

He said that procedure will change and inmates will no longer be allowed to be in that unsecured space.


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