1 TN inmate still on the loose after 6 escape from toilet hole on Christmas

NEWPORT, Tenn. (WATE) — Police have caught five of the six Cocke County inmates that escaped from a toilet hole in the county’s jail annex early Christmas morning.

The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office says a fifth inmate, John Shehee, turned himself in just after 8 p.m. after his father talked him into it.


Deputies say they spent the day Monday following leads and contacting family and friends. Only one inmate remained on the run as of 8:30 p.m. Monday – David Frazier, 54. He was in custody for aggravated robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Frazier is considered to be dangerous and was awaiting trial for his charges.

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The sheriff’s office says the inmates escaped after a water leak occurred behind a wall unit stainless steel toilet. Reports show the bolts holding the unit rusted out and there was prior damage to the concrete due to plumbing repairs. The inmates then vandalized the lavatory, removing it from the wall, and gained access to a hole which led outside of the facility.

Harce Allen was arrested by undercover narcotics officers after receiving information from an anonymous source. A second person who was not an escapee was arrested after learning there were two outstanding criminal warrants for his arrested.

Eric Click, was arrested Monday afternoon during a traffic stop in Newport. He was the passenger in the back of a vehicle. Two other people have been arrested in connection with his capture and will soon be charged.

John Mark Speir was captured at a residence in the Cosby community. Two other people were charged for harboring Speir.

Inmate Steven Lewis was also captured after a foot chase by officers in the Carson Springs Community.

“We’ve had numerous issues with this facility concerning water breaks, sewage breaks. It’s a never ending task to keep this facility and this place operational,” said Sheriff Armando Fontes.

The hole will be covered with a steel plate that should be installed, according to the Sheriff, as soon as possible.

“It’s going to be difficult to fix this type of damage. Especially with the fact that the concrete itself is going to be an expensive fix,” said Fontes.

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Anyone with information to the whereabouts of the remaining fugitive is asked to contact central dispatch at 423-623-3064 or the Cocke County jail at 423-623-6023.