PCSO: Escaped inmate taken into custody

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

FLORENCE, Ariz. -- A Pinal County Jail inmate who reportedly escaped Friday afternoon to spend Valentine's Day with his girlfriend is in custody, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney said Friday evening that 40-year-old Joseph Andrew Dekenipp was located in Coolidge. The city is about 11 miles from the Florence jail.

The sheriff's office said Dekenipp was inside a fenced recreation yard at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center with other inmates about 4 p.m. When the inmates returned to their housing unit, Dekenipp was unaccounted for.

The man allegedly escaped from the jail by climbing two fences, one of which was 12 feet tall and had razor wire.

Whether Dekenipp had help from the other inmates was still under investigation Friday evening.

The sheriff's office began searching for Dekenipp with help from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona Department of Corrections, Florence Police Department, Coolidge Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service.

Numerous K-9s tracked the man's scent to a nearby roadway, where it apparently stopped. The sheriff's office said it appeared Dekenipp got into a vehicle.

Deputies stopped and searched numerous cars on major roadways in the area.

Gaffney said Dekenipp was found in a bar and was wearing street clothes. He was taken into custody without incident.

Two teens claim the inmate offered their friend drugs, money, quads and cell phones in return for a ride.

Drake Gall and Cash Madewell said they thought, "Maybe this is the guy. Maybe we can help out and get him," said Madewell.

The teens said they told their friend to stay put, so they could tag along.

"That's when he started saying we need to leave, and after that they took him down to the Goose and we followed them," said one of the teens.

The teens said they called police while they were following their friend.

"My heart was kind of racing. It was kind of scary. I didn't know if he was going to try to steal the truck or take over my friend," said Drake Gall.

Gaffney said Friday that Dekenipp was treated for the injuries he sustained while climbing the fence and transported back to the jail, where he would be booked on escape charges.

Dekenipp was originally booked into jail Jan. 10 on charges of theft of a means of transportation, trafficking stolen property, unlawful flight, and driving on a suspended license.

At the time of the alleged escape, Dekenipp was being held on $5,000 bond and had a pretrial conference scheduled for Feb. 25.