D191105 gillespie caught

John Kaleb Gillespie returns to the Morgan County Jail on Monday, more than a week after his escape. He was captured Monday after a drone-assisted pursuit near Bessemer. Video at decaturdaily.com. [DAN BUSEY/DECATUR DAILY]

More than a week after he scaled a wall of the Morgan County Jail, an escaped inmate was captured Monday morning after a vehicle pursuit and a drone-assisted foot pursuit, according to authorities.

John Kaleb Gillespie, 30, a registered sex offender, was captured near Bessemer after he crashed his car at Exit 1 of Interstate 459. A missing 16-year-old Moulton girl was with him, according to the Hoover Police Department, which took Gillespie into custody with assistance from the Bessemer Police Department. 

Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter said the teen did not appear harmed when authorities released the girl to him about 10 a.m. Monday.

According to Hoover police, a patrol officer at about 5 a.m. "spotted a suspicious vehicle occupied by a male and female, in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn on John Hawkins Parkway."

Gillespie drove away at a high rate of speed while the officer was speaking to him, police said, and they then discovered he was an escapee from the Morgan County Jail.

Officers attempted a traffic stop, police said, but "the driver refused to stop and a pursuit ensued onto I-459 South."

After Gillespie lost control of his vehicle, police said, he and the female ran from the vehicle and were pursued on foot.

Gillespie was not initially captured during the foot chase, so Hoover officers deployed a drone to aid in locating him, police said.

"The drone operator located the male walking behind an industrial building and saw him get into an unlocked car," according to Hoover police, and directed officers to his location.

Hoover police charged Gillespie with attempting to elude and resisting arrest.

Gillespie was returned to Morgan County Jail about 3:15 p.m. Monday wearing a blue hoodie, gray athletic pants and no shoes. He had shackles on his ankles and wrists and did not answer reporters’ questions while being escorted into the booking area.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office believes a fellow inmate boosted Gillespie up a 20- to 30-foot high wall in the recreation area of the jail on the afternoon of Oct. 27. Gillespie apparently had tied bedsheets together to drop down on the outside east wall about 12:23 p.m. Oct. 27.

Sheriff's spokesman Mike Swafford said he would release the assisting inmate’s name once an investigation is complete.

Sheriff Ron Puckett said Gillespie had received a 30-day notice from the state Department of Corrections that he was headed back to prison the week before he escaped. Puckett said Gillespie violated terms of his parole on two, decade-old rape convictions. Puckett said Gillespie would be sent to Kilby Prison in Montgomery, the Department of Corrections intake center.

Gillespie faces numerous other charges including attempted murder after trying to run over a state trooper in 2018 in Lawrence County, McWhorter said.

“Our plan is to make that happen sooner than 30 days,” Puckett said. “He’ll go back to finish his 22 years. We’ll have more charges on him. Hoover may have charges on him. The feds may have charges on him. He’s probably not too concerned about those charges. I don’t know if he (escaped) out of desperation or he just wanted to leave. It doesn’t matter, he left.”

Puckett said Gillespie would not have any privileges in the Morgan jail and some structural changes in the jail will be made because of the escape.

“Policy wise, we’re still reviewing some of that,” he said. “(An escape) hasn’t happened here before. We’ll put some type of covering over the rec area to make it much more difficult from happening again.”

McWhorter said he traveled to the Jefferson County Youth Detention Center to pick up the Moulton teen. At about 10 a.m., he turned the teen over to her legal guardian, who had driven to Birmingham separately.

“I didn’t talk to the teen,” McWhorter said. “She was not physically injured in any way that I saw.”

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mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel.

(1) comment

Lori Ray

No charges against the teen?

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