They Ran, But They Couldn’t Hide
Two escapees from the Western Mental Health Facility (WMHI) in Bolivar were captured Saturday, September 23, after a little more than thirty-six hours of freedom.
Caught were 31-year old Joseph Bortz and 22-year old Matthew Inman, who plotted their escape from Western while incarcerated together in Gibson County, reasoning that it would be easier to escape from a mental facility than a jail, according to Bolivar Police Chief Pat Baker.
Also according to Baker, their run to freedom ran into some trouble after they overpowered a WMHI employee, took a key card and used it, leaving the grounds by scaling the fence.
“They broke into a nearby cabin and got a coffee pot, some tea, a hot dog roaster, deer tent, and a roll of paper towels,” said Baker, adding they made a makeshift camp on the land that held the cabin.
A tip from the landowner came when he checked his trail cameras, saw one of the escapees, and alerted police in Bolivar.
The presence of police in the area caused the pair to attempt to borrow a telephone from a nearby house to call for help. The homeowner allowed them use of the landline, but called the authorities on a cell phone at the same time.
Inman was captured when the authorities arrived and Bortz, who had fled across the road, was apprehended five hours later.
Baker said the escapees were surprised to learn they hadn’t traveled more than about four miles from Western.
“They thought they were on the other side of Jackson,” he added.
Baker said the department was grateful for the assistance of the Gibson County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who lent a helicopter to the search effort.