Although Lewis made his escape at approximately 11 a.m. after allegedly stealing a city of Griffin truck from the city garage, where the inmate had been assigned to work as a trusty, SCCI Warden Jimmy Sikes said it was “about an hour or so” before officials noticed he was missing.
At that time the Georgia Department of Corrections and local law enforcement agencies were notified of Lewis’ escape.
A bulletin containing Lewis’ description, as well as that of the truck he was believed to have stolen, was disseminated to law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Lewis was finally taken into custody Thursday night in LaPlace, La., when the escapee himself contacted the St. John Sheriff’s Office.
According to Capt. Dane Clement, the St. John Sheriff’s Office public information officer, at about 9:30 p.m. deputies were dispatched to a Shell station in the 400 block of Belle Terre Drive in reference to a report of a stolen vehicle.
“Deputies met with a male subject, later identified as Dennis Lewis, 49, who stated two hitchhikers he had picked up fled in his vehicle when he went in the Shell station,” Clement said. “Lewis could provide no identification or vehicle information, and his reported information was inconsistent, leading deputies to believe his report was false. He was advised to move on.”
Clement said Lewis then returned to the Shell station approximately one hour later and began “banging on the windows of the station and yelling at the employees inside. He crossed the street to another business, demonstrating similar behavior, causing customers to leave the area.”
SJSO deputies returned to the area and located Lewis, who was subsequently arrested and charged with disturbing the peace by cursing or annoying, criminal trespass, resisting an officer, two counts of public intimidation and contraband taken into a penal institution.
During the booking procedure, deputies learned the true identity of Lewis through a national fingerprint database, Clement said. “He was charged additionally for misrepresentation during booking and as a fugitive from another agency for the outstanding warrant from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.”
Sikes said Lewis had been in the system “for a while,” but that he had been transferred to the SCCI from Jackson in October or November. Originally convicted on a theft charge, Sikes referred to Lewis as a “nonviolent offender — a short-timer — in minimum security.”
Pending extradition to Georgia, Lewis remains in the custody of Louisiana officials.
Although he was soon to be released on his original theft charge, Lewis now faces an additional escape charge — which Sikes said carries a maximum sentence of five years. In addition, the city of Griffin has also taken a warrant against Lewis for theft by taking motor vehicle.
Sgt. Richard Phillips, of the Griffin Police Department Criminal Investigation Division, said the allegedly stolen truck was recovered Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.
“The story that the two occupants told the Texas state trooper is that they bought it from a man at a truck stop,” Phillips said. “I can’t confirm that; that’s just the story that was told to the trooper. The two subjects are not being charged. They were identified and released because apparently the decals had been taken off and the government tag had been removed. The truck had been stripped down to make it less conspicuous.”