Inmate attempts to escape from Blount County Jail

By Jessica Stith of The Daily Times Staff

A fugitive who was captured in Loudon County on Nov. 9 attempted to escape from the Blount County Jail tonight. The inmate was unsuccessful due to the design of the jail's structure.

Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said it was discovered shortly after 10 p.m. by a corrections officer that 31-year-old Christopher Allen Ellis, of Sunbright, had managed to break a hole in the ceiling of a medical cell in the jail.

Ellis was brought to the Blount County Jail for federal safe housing after his arrest on Nov. 9 in Loudon County. The arrest was the result of a multi-agency search. He was wanted on federal and state charges stemming from alleged kidnappings, carjackings, home invasions, thefts and a bank robbery.

Berrong said he felt confident that the inmate could not have escaped through the ceiling, but set up a perimeter around the jail property for precautionary reasons.

"We knew that it was secure above the ceiling," Berrong said. "The community was not in danger."

Deputies surrounded the area and officers arrived to assist from Alcoa and Maryville Police Departments. Berrong said Loudon County deputies were also in route, as well as helicopters from the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Once officers and deputies began searching the jail, Berrong said Ellis was "easy to find." He said there would not have been a way for Ellis to escape because there is no egress in the inner walls of the jail. He said the inner walls are made of concrete and steel.

Berrong said that once officers located the area above the ceiling where Ellis was located, a corrections officer gave verbal commands to Ellis, which he complied with.

Deputies and officers brought Ellis out of the ceiling and back into custody in less than 30 minutes of his attempted escape.

"We've notified the FBI," Berrong said regarding the federal inmate.

He said he expects Ellis to be charged with attempted escape.

Berrong said Ellis is a proven violent offender and is "more prone to try to escape because of his history."