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Manhunt continues after inmate runs away
Jose Mendoza.jpg
Jose Mendoza

A supposedly trustworthy Warren County Jail inmate proved not to be after he ran away from a work detail on Thursday.

The search continues for Jose Enrique Mendoza, 26, who was working as a jail trusty when he decided to flee. He was last seen wearing jail-issued orange and white striped pants and a white T-shirt. He left Warren County Sanitation Department on foot. 

“He was working with the work crew at the Sanitation Department,” said Warren County Sheriff’s Department Major Jason Walker. “He got in trouble and got upset and just took off from the guard.”

According to Walker, when Mendoza was told by the deputy that he would be transported back to jail and would likely not be allowed to remain on work detail, his parting words of farewell included a four-letter expletive.

“Because there were two other inmates, the guard had a responsibility to remain at the Sanitation Department,” said Walker. “The incident occurred about 12:30 p.m. A search began immediately.”

Along with sheriff’s deputies, McMinnville Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol searched on the ground. The Sheriff’s Department plane provided aerial reconnaissance. Nearby residents, businesses, and schools were alerted and instructed to lock all doors until an all-clear was given. 

Mendoza was originally charged in 2016 with theft of property.

“He kept violating his probation numerous times,” said Walker. “This last violation was for drug possession, I do believe.” 

Inmates selected for the voluntary work program must display the ability to get along with other inmates and correctional officers, exhibit good behavior while incarcerated, and the crime committed cannot be violent in nature. 

In return for working, those inmates receive two days off their sentence for each day worked.

“Issues like this are rare, but they can happen,” said Walker, who says this one situation will not halt the inmate work program. “The reward of having this program far outweighs this one situation.” 

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Jose Enrique Mendoza, call the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at (931) 473-7863.