Hance captured

Billy Wayne Hance looks out the door of a Sheriff’s Department car after he was captured Tuesday afternoon. Hance had escaped from the Cocke County Courthouse on Monday while being moved to the Jail Annex.

NEWPORT—An escaped Cocke County Jail inmate is back in custody after a 24-hour manhunt.

Billy Wayne Hance, 47, Old Sevierville Highway, is now charged with felony jail escape, according to the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office.

He was in custody on charges of driving while license revoked, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, financial responsibility, evading arrest, failure to exercise due care, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and failure to maintain his lane of travel following a vehicle and foot pursuit from Newport City Officers on July 6.

On Monday, two bailiffs were in the process of transporting Hance, along with five other inmates, from the Cocke County General Sessions Courtroom back to the Cocke County Jail Annex when Hance managed to flee from bailiffs.

According to a press release, Hance, who was handcuffed in the front, fled down the courthouse stairs and out a side door near the County Clerk’s Office.

Efforts were continued throughout the evening and night by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, Newport Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshall’s, and TWRA in an attempt to find Hance.

On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 24-hours after Hance escaped, Deputy Joshua Matthews, Special Patrol Captain David Robertson, and Detective Josh Hall spotted Hance at the Holiday Inn on Cosby Highway. Hance attempted to flee once again but was apprehended and taken back into custody.

According to CCSO Officials, Hance’s girlfriend, identified as Melissa Anne Harris, 39, Clear Creek Road, was also arrested earlier that day and charged after she played a part in helping Hance escape custody.

Sgt. Chris Barnes reported Harris “had knowingly” concealed Hance following his escape from custody.

Captain Detective Eric Ramsey and Jail Administer Josh Hartsell advised Harris to call 911 if she had any contact with Hance. However, during the course of the investigation, deputies learned that Hance was with Harris at her residence from 2:30 a.m. until noon on Tuesday. Harris did not attempt to contact law enforcement during those hours, the report stated.

At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, deputies came in contact with Harris at Family Farm Restaurant where she was taken into custody. Sgt. Barnes said while searching Harris’ vehicle, he found a pair of peerless handcuffs from the Cocke County Jail Annex in the front seat of the car.

Deputies questioned Harris’ daughter about the handcuffs, and she said they belonged to Hance.

Harris was charged with accessory after the fact.

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