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Letcher County fugitive arrested

A Letcher County inmate who escaped earlier this month during work release has been arrested in Tennessee.

The Letcher County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip on April 24 that John Paul Wells, 31, of 36 Orange Drive, Whitesburg, was staying at a residence in Kingsport, Tenn. Lt. Brian Damron of the sheriff’s department contacted Kingsport police and Wells was arrested on a fugitive warrant on April 25 at 1609 Arbor Place in Kingsport, Tenn.

Wells, who was transported to the Kingsport jail on Thursday, signed a waiver of extradition, said Letcher County Jailer Don McCall.

Two deputies from the Letcher County Jail drove to Tennessee today to pick up Wells and transport him back to the Letcher County Jail. McCall said Wells will be in jail by late this afternoon.

Wells and two other inmates had been clearing brush on April 2 when a deputy jailer stopped at Frazier’s Farmer Supply to drop off a chainsaw that needed sharpening. While the deputy was inside the store, Wells jumped out of the jail van and ran across a busy Highway 15, said McCall.

Wells ran down the middle of the road located between Parkway Pharmacy and Whitaker Bank. He was spotted running behind Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation’s Whitesburg Medical Clinic.

Wells, who was wearing a gray shirt and jeans, was a blur as he ran past, one eyewitness said.

Wells, who was originally charged with receiving stolen property, was in jail for a parole violation. He was scheduled to be released from jail in two years. With the work release Wells had been doing, McCall said, Wells most likely would have been released sooner.

Wells was indicted on an escape charge when arrested.

Chief Deputy Mike Enfusse assisted Damron in the case.

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