Sheriff: April Fools' Day tip led to escapee's arrest after 9 ye - - Jackson, MS

Sheriff: April Fools' Day tip led to escapee's arrest after 9 years on the run

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Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
COPIAH COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A man who escaped from the Copiah County jail nearly a decade ago is back behind bars there. The suspect in question spent time in at least four states and did time in a few of them as well.

Sidney Robert Benner, a Florida man, eluded deputies in Copiah County for nine years.

Investigators said Benner had originally been arrested for trying to run over a highway patrolman who stopped him for driving recklessly in 2007. About a month into his stay in the Copiah County jail, he managed to climb the chain link fence and escape into a wooded area.

"I think he went to Texas and on into Utah, committed some crimes while he was out there, served some time out there, and actually got lost in our system and got removed from our want list," said Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones. "They freed him when his time was up and did not notify us."

That list included NCIC, a nationwide criminal database that had Benner's record, including his escape, and contained information that Copiah County had a hold on him.

Jones said his department didn't remove Benner's record, but somehow it got expunged, meaning nobody knew he was a wanted man outside Mississippi.

Then on April Fools' Day, investigators caught a break.

"The people out in Utah gave us an address that they thought that he might be at in Knoxville, Tennessee," Jones said.

A call to Knoxville's police department then led to Benner's arrest, with Copiah County deputies picking him up and bringing him back.

One memory stayed with Jones while Benner had been on the run all those years, and it started when former WLBT reporter Bert Case covered the man's escape.

"Every time Bert saw me from that point forward, he would always ask me, 'Have you heard from Mr. Benner?' That was the first thing out of his mouth. And I just wish he was here today to know that we have Sidney Benner in our jail," Jones said.

Benner faces charges that include felony evasion and aggravated assault on a police officer.

He waived his indictment and will return to court in May.

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