Escaped Inmate Caught In Wood County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/05/07-Longview

Escaped Inmate Caught In Wood County

An East Texas inmate overpowered a local law enforcement officer, took his weapon and his vehicle, and lead police on a wild chase.

It all started around 9:30 last night in Hopkins county. 25 year old Joseph Meadows eluded law enforcement for over 12 hours until officials finally caught him.

"The way it started last night, we were really expecting the worst. Every officer out there knew that the guy was armed," said Hopkins County Chief Investigator Andy Chester.

Wood County Sheriff's Deputies searched a location near FM 778 and county road 3056, where they found the truck wrecked in the woods. A homeowner actually spotted Meadows walking in the area.

"A man called and said someone fitting that description had been standing in his driveway," said Wood County Sheriff Dwaine Daugherty.

Meadows had warned officers he would not go to prison.

"The indication we got from him was he wasn't planning on doing any time all," Chester said.

Meadows feigned an illness last night and said he needed medical attention.  But when he got to the hospital the situation changed.

"He obtained some type of sharp instrument while he was at the hospital, and somehow during the struggle got the [deputy's] weapon.  That's our worst nightmare ... somebody getting our weapon" said Chester.

Meadows then dumped the guard off and handcuffed him to a fence. A massive search involving numerous counties and leads turned up nothing. A DPS helicopter from Waco was called in to help search. Officials didn't realize that Meadows was hiding 200 yards from the command center.

"Before I came back into my house I had the police check it" said area homeowner Dennis Mitchell.

With search dogs and helicopters buzzing around him, Meadows knew his break for freedom was over. When Meadows was returned to Hopkins County Jail, deputies said he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide.  

Meadows gave no explanation to police as to why he led police on the chase. He was originally jailed in Hopkins County on burglary charges.

The correction officer's name has not been released, and an internal investigation into how Meadows overpowered him is expected. Meadows is charged with felony escape and has more charges pending.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com

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