Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray announced at approximately 2 a.m. on Monday, February 14, that Dean Kinningham, 47, of Sneedville, had been captured after he escaped from the Claiborne County Jail.
Captain John Collins of the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office has launched an internal investigation into the escape after Kinningham walked out of the Claiborne County Jail around 9:11 p.m. on Sunday night.
Kinningham was booked into the jail on December 21, 2010, after he robbed Value RX Pharmacy in Tazewell at gunpoint. He was arrested after he wrecked his vehicle and fled from officers on the scene.
Within minutes of the report that Kinningham had escaped, more than 20 officers including on-duty and off-duty officers with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office, Tazewell Police Department and the New Tazewell Police Department created a perimeter of the area where Kinningham was believed to be hiding.
After walking the area for several minutes, Sheriff David Ray contacted Sheriff J.J. Jones of the Knoxville Sheriff’s Office and requested two K-9 officers and an aviation unit to assist in the search.
K-9 Units Rex Armstrong and John Huff arrived with their search dogs and walked the area where Kinningham had last been seen. A short time later, Sgt. Kirk Mack and Greg Morgan of the aviation unit arrived in a Knox County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, equipped with the latest technology in thermal imaging to assist in locating the suspect.
The helicopter circled the area several times and, using thermal imagery, they were able to key in on a central location where it was believed the suspect was hiding.
Several officers attacked the location and found Kinningham hiding underneath a rock. He was apprehended and escorted up the hill approximately 100 feet to the jail.
Charges against Kinningham are still pending due to the investigation.
Ashley Hurley is a staff writer for the Claiborne Progress.