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Sumter inmate escapee caught near home

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — An escaped inmate from Sumter County almost made it home Thursday, but didn’t quite make it.

Law enforcement were searching for the inmate trustee who walked away from the Sumter County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) between 10:45 and 11 a.m. Thursday.

Col. Eric Bryant, chief deputy, Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said 38-year-old Bryan Richard Smith walked over to the Transwaste facility Thursday morning across the street from the LEC on McMath Mill Road where he used the phone. Bryant said they were “almost certain” Smith was picked up by a female acquaintance who was in his company in court a week ago on Feb. 9. They were looking for a gray or silver Jeep Cherokee. He said they believed he might have been headed home which is Calhoun, in Gordon County, Georgia.

Between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the Jeep Cherokee was spotted in Adairsville in Bartow County, the next county over from Gordon. Smith was located shortly after that in the company of the female. He was housed overnight in the Gordon County Jail and arrived back in the Sumter County Jail shortly after 2 p.m. Friday.

Bryant said they are confident that the woman who came and picked up Smith in Sumter County was unaware that he was escaping. Jailed for probation violation, Smith was set to be released on March 3. He now faces an escape charge as well.