Maury County inmate gone more than 5 weeks before warrant issued

Robert Smith (Courtesy: Maury County Sheriff's Office)

MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Maury County has another escapee on the loose, making two in as many weeks.

Last week News 2 reported on Tommy Dixon, an inmate who ran away from a prison work crew. Dixon reportedly said he needed to go to the bathroom and went into the woods and never returned.

Dixon only had about 90 days left on his sentence at the time he fled.

“He is not a high level risk,” Sheriff Bucky Rowland said. “It was a bone head move on his part. For whatever reason he chose to walk off from a work bus.”

The latest prisoner discovered missing is Robert Smith. The 36-year-old man was gone for more than five weeks before a warrant for his arrest was obtained.

Smith was in the Maury County jail on charges of evading arrest and domestic assault. He also has a 22-page TBI criminal history that includes arrest for his aggravated burglary, drug charges, assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

According to an escape warrant obtained by News 2, a judge granted Smith a furlough to get out of jail on January 20 so he could go to the Place of Hope rehab facility in Columbia.

The document states he was at the center for 53 days when on March 13 he reportedly voluntarily left without completing the program.

Smith then did not return to the county jail to serve the balance of his sentence.

For five weeks his whereabouts have been unknown. On Wednesday, 38 days after he walked away from the rehab center, Maury County deputies obtained an arrest warrant for escape.

Place of Hope’s clinical administrator, Cassie Gray, was unable to provide News 2 with any answers due to patient confidentiality laws.

“We have a strict HIPPA law here,” she said. “Without a release, we can’t give out info about our clients.”

By phone, News 2 spoke with Sheriff Bucky Rowland, who said, the rehab center never reported Smith missing and the only reason the sheriff’s department now has a warrant for Smith is because a Maury County deputy just happened to spot him and knew he should either be in jail or the rehab center.

“He was, he was no longer in the jail’s custody,” Sheriff Rowland said. “He was furloughed from our facility to go receive treatment. He failed to fulfill that obligation.”

The sheriff said Smith will be sought after like any other suspect with warrants.

“We have filing cabinets full of people who should be behind bars right now, about 4,000 unserved warrants at the Maury County jail,” he said.

As of April 21, Smith has been gone for 40 days.

Anyone with information on either his or Dixon’s whereabouts is urged to call the Maury County Sheriff’s Department at 931-380-5733.