Escaped Alabama Inmates Spotted In Walnut Hill; Arrested In Pensacola

September 24, 2008


Two escaped state prisoners from Atmore were captured Tuesday in Pensacola, just days after they were spotted in Walnut Hill.

An anonymous tip to Crimestoppers  led to the capture of Charles Bales, 33, and John Rice, 42, Tuesday morning at the Palm Court Motel on Highway 29 in Pensacola. The pair escaped from a work detail in Atmore last Wednesday.

On Thursday, a Walnut Hill resident, Tracy Benner, found the two men walking down Arthur Brown Road and gave them a ride. He said they stated that they were hungry. The local resident drove them to the Walnut Hill Farm Supply to buy food. When he left them at the business on Highway 97, he had no idea he had just given a ride to two escaped prisoners.

The clerk at the farm supply, who did not wish to be identified, did not know the two were wanted by authorities when they came into the store Thursday.

“They said they were looking for a telephone and for food,” she told “They got about $20 worth of food, snacks and stuff, and they never did ask to use the phone.”

She said she asked the men were they were headed, and they responded “Mississippi”. She said they were wearing “regular street clothes”, and that they were nice.

The clerk said they were in the store for about five minutes and they left on foot, walking south on South Highway 99, away from Highway 97.

Both Benner and the clerk said they immediately recognized the pair as Bales and Rice Sunday  when they saw a story on They reported their contact with the prisoners to the Escambia County Sheriff’ Department.

“If it wasn’t for the story on NorthEscambia, I would have not known they were wanted,” Benner said.

Sgt. David Preston with the sheriff’s department said there were no other reported sightings of the two men in the North Escambia area.

Rice was serving a life sentence for a 1997 Baldwin County burglary. Bales was serving a 10 year sentence in connection with a  2002 robbery. Bales could have been eligible for parole as early as June of 2010.

sweeney.jpgA third person, Wendy Sweeney, was also arrested at the motel Tuesday on outstanding local warrants,” Sheriff’ spokesman Glenn Austin said. It was not immediately known if she had any connection to Rice or Bales, or is she had any part in the their escape. No further details on her arrest were available from the sheriff’s department.

Pictured above: Escaped Alabama inmates Charles Bales (left) and John Rice were arrested in Pensacola Tuesday, just days after being spotted in Walnut Hill. Wendy Sweeney (left) was also arrested along with the two men. Submitted photos.


2 Responses to “Escaped Alabama Inmates Spotted In Walnut Hill; Arrested In Pensacola”

  1. Beegee on September 26th, 2008 10:05 pm

    Well,nice or not,they are still criminals………and I,for one,am glad to know they are right where they should be……except this time,let there be no more work detail!!!

  2. payne on September 25th, 2008 8:17 am


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