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Jail escapee caught in Warren Co.


A Van Buren County Jail escapee who was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List on Monday afternoon was captured in Warren County on Monday night around 7 p.m.

Joel Ernest Blanton, 37, was wanted by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department and the TBI after escaping from the Van Buren County Jail at approximately 1 a.m. on Monday morning.

On April 17, Blanton was found guilty of four counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. He was awaiting a Wednesday sentencing hearing when he escaped Monday morning.

The TBI announced the capture of Blanton online:

"PARTNERSHIP PAYS OFF! Teamwork by the Van Buren and Warren County Sheriff's Departments, the U.S. Marshals, ATF, and TBI has resulted in the arrest of this escaped child rapist. Thank you for joining us in staying vigilant! Great job all around!"

According to Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny, Blanton was captured on Salem Road, a rural road toward the northern part of the county between Bluff Springs Road and Faulkner Springs Road.

Van Buren County is still using its tiny, longtime jail, even though a new jail has been constructed at the new county offices. However, inmates have yet to be transferred to the new facility. Information has not been provided on  how Blanton escaped.

A reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to Blaton's arrest was offered. It is not known if a tip led to his arrest.

For more information, see Wednesday's edition of the Southern Standard.