An inmate from the Lawrence County Jail that was out on work release today at the Walnut Ridge Street Department stepped outside during a break and never returned. Walnut Ridge Police notified the Sheriffâ€™s Department that Ronald Kile Hartsell had run away from the program and could not be found. Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson immediately notified surrounding towns and officers from Walnut Ridge, Hoxie, Arkansas State Police and the Sheriffâ€™s Office began an extensive search.
Around 1:45 pm a Sheriffâ€™s Deputy received information that Hartsell had been given a ride to the Alicia area and could possibly be in a residence there. Lawrence County Deputies responded to the residence and searched the area with assistance from the Bono Police Department and their K-9 Unit. The search was unsuccessful but officers pressed on. Information was gathered from the person who unknowingly gave the escapee a ride including the fact that the fugitive had changed clothes and was now wearing green coveralls.
Officers questioned residents in the area and ask if anyone had seen the suspect, by this time the Arkansas State Police and Jackson County Sheriffâ€™s Department had joined in the search. A Lawrence County Deputy made contact with a worker at the Liquor Store just south of the county line where an employee stated that she had seen a man in green coveralls walking south on Hwy 67 when she came into work around 3 pm, authorities shifted their search towards the Swifton area at that time.
Deputies from Lawrence, Jackson and the Swifton Police Department began searching the area when they made contact with several people who had seen the escapee. A Helicopter was brought in by Sheriff Dotson to preform an aerial search. Tips also came into the Lawrence County Dispatch of both possible sightings and direction of travel. The Tuckerman Police Department was requested to search several addresses that the suspect was familiar with, the searches were conducted without a find but officers in Tuckerman remained on standby.
As the sun was starting to set in Jackson County officers from the Tuckerman Police Department received a tip from the suspects family to the possible whereabouts of Hartsell. Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson and his officers were notified and raced towards Tuckerman. Tuckerman Police advised the Sheriff that at 6:47 pm Hartsell had been taken into custody without incident. Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson and several of his deputies arrived at the Tuckerman Police Department and took custody of their prisoner. Hartsell was transported back to the Lawrence County Jail and charged with Escape.
Sheriff Dotson wishes to extend his â€œThanksâ€ to all those who assisted in the search including Chief Thatcher and the entire Walnut Ridge Police Department, Chief Smith and the Hoxie Police Department, Chief Patrick and the Bono Police Department, Sheriff Lucas and the Jackson County Sheriffâ€™s Department, the Arkansas State Police, Swifton Police and the Tuckerman Police Department.
For more information on the Lawrence County Sheriffâ€™s Office visit www.lawrencecountysheriffsoffice.com .
For more information on the Walnut Ridge Police Department, visit www.cityofwalnutridge.com .