Billy Eugene Sheppard, 43, has been incarcerated at the Jones County Law Enforcement Center since being arrested Sept. 18 for a probation violation. Sheppard’s original charges were listed as entering auto and battery, but following a few hours of freedom Oct. 19, his list of charges is growing.
The exact time the inmate left the golf course is not known, but he was arrested in Byron shortly after he was discovered to be missing.
Jail Administrator Capt. Guy Mosteller said Sheppard faces new charges of escape, theft of a motor vehicle, interference of government property from Jones County, and DUI, fleeing and attempting to elude, open container, and driving with a suspended license in Byron.
Mosteller said Sheppard’s absence was reported after he was not located when it was time for him to return to the jail.
“He was assigned to Jonesco on the run around detail. Apparently, the course manager, Mearl Cooler, was not there Friday, and Sheppard decided to take the truck,” Mosteller said. The captain said Sheppard told golf course personnel that he needed the truck to spread fertilizer on the back fairways.
After taking the truck, he reportedly went to the home of an acquaintance he had not seen in about 20 years who lives in Crawford County.
“Sheppard told this guy that he had escaped and was trying to get to Florida, and the guy told him to leave. He spray-painted the doors of the truck and took off,” Mosteller said.
The captain said as soon as the inmate left the Crawford County residence, the acquaintance called 911 to report the escape. The 911 operator in Crawford County had not yet received the report of the escape, but the broadcast of the escape and a description of the vehicle were received shortly after the call.
“As the radio room was giving the lookout, the chief of police in Byron saw the truck with spray-painted doors go by. Sheppard was arrested and charged in Byron for the traffic charges, and then we picked him up,” Mosteller said.
He added that Sheppard was scheduled to go to court this coming Thursday, and he thought it was a good possibility the inmate would have been given credit for time served and allowed to go home.
“Now he faces a maximum 10 years for each of his additional Jones County charges, not to mention the traffic charges he accumulated in Byron,” Mosteller remarked.