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‘Very frustrating’ Tennessee inmate has escaped — for the sixth time, sheriff says

Tennessee inmate Philip Andrew Marshall has escaped jail for the sixth time, according to the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, this time sneaking out at 5 a.m. Monday — just a month after his last escape.
Tennessee inmate Philip Andrew Marshall has escaped jail for the sixth time, according to the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, this time sneaking out at 5 a.m. Monday — just a month after his last escape. Bedford County Sheriff’s Office

The first time this Tennessee inmate escaped from jail, he’d been locked up for (what else?) evading arrest, authorities said.

Including that first jailbreak, Philip Andrew Marshall has now put his evasion skills to use by bolting from jail a total of six “very frustrating” times, according to the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.

The latest successful flight from custody was Monday at 5 a.m., just a month after his last escape from the correctional facility in Shelbyville, Tenn., the sheriff’s office said.

Marshall was able to sneak away last month when he was left unshackled during a shower, despite the fact that he’s always supposed to be shackled outside his cell, the sheriff’s office said. He then made a break for it through a door a jail employee failed to completely shut, WSMV reports.

“It’s very frustrating, and it’s frustrating sometimes that employees don’t do what they’re supposed to do,” Sheriff Austin Swing told the TV station after Marshall’s fifth escape last month.

Part of the problem is that the jail is so packed, authorities said: Though the jail’s capacity is between 100 and 105 inmates, the Times-Gazette reports that as recently as October it’s housed nearly 200 people.

Compounding that overcrowding problem is a workforce shortage. Swing told WSMV that at times inmates outnumber jail guards 50 to 1.

“Right now, we are still terribly short-handed,” Bedford County Jail administrator Tim Lokey told the newspaper. “We’re just treading water.”

mug marshall
Philip Andrew Marshall Bedford County Sheriff’s Office

That can lead to mishaps, Swing said.

“It’s just human error,” Swing told WSMV. “You don't leave a door open in the jail or a door unlocked in the jail.”

In October, Marshall and two other inmates got out by sneaking into the jail’s attic then using bed sheets as a makeshift rope to rappel to freedom, WKRN reports. The month before that, Marshall had escaped from the county’s workhouse, where he was staying as the county did repairs on the jail, the sheriff’s office said.

During his January escape, Marshall only remained a fugitive for a day, WSMV reports — but that was enough to alarm those who live near the jail.

“I checked all the windows and doors this morning,” Jessica Moore, who lives on the street Marshall fled down in January, told the TV station. “When I heard a knock on the door, I wondered if I should answer it because it scares me that he’s running loose again.”

Two guards chased Marshall as he fled, yet he still managed to get away.

“I think it's crazy that they haven't done more, especially with the ones who continue to break out,” Moore said.

Marshall had been in the jail on non-violent charges, a deputy told The Tennessean.

On Facebook, commenters mused that the escape artist’s potential is going untapped.

“Too bad the Winter Olympics does not have a hide and seek event,” one commenter wrote. “This guy would be a national hero.”

Swing said last month, before Marshall’s latest stunt, that the county would have to do more to train its jail employees to prevent the escapes.

“We will have to deal with our employees and hopefully get them on track so we don't make these mistakes again,” Swing told WSMV.

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