Escaped Brazos County Inmate Captured

An escaped inmate from the Brazos County jail is back behind bars.

Ronald Earl Pennie, 29, was discovered missing around 9 p.m. Friday night, but was recaptured early Saturday near the Bryan Golf Course. Pennie had escaped through the recreational yard of the detention center on Sandy Point Road, according to authorities.

The College Station resident has been serving time for aggravated kidnapping, burglary and resisting arrest. He had been in jail since September 24.

According to Sheriff Chris Kirk, Pennie was among a group of inmates being given an hour of recreational time outside the jail under supervision. However, Pennie was able to elude jail officials during that time.

"Our mistake was that we miscounted, and it allowed him to secret himself in the rec yard, and then when it was locked up, he took that time to defeat the fence around the rec yard and escape," the sheriff said.

A search for Pennie began immediately after his disappearance was discovered Friday night, one that included personnel on horseback, dogs and a helicopter. Authorities combed the area around the center, went to Pennie's home, and even contacted his mother, who said she had not seen or heard from her son.

About 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Brazos County deputies responded to Pepe's Taco at South College and Lynn Streets (see map), where Pennie and another man were standing behind the store. The two began running and eventually ended up in a nearby creek. Pennie eventually was removed from the creek and returned to jail.

The other runner, identified as 29-year-old Anthony Young of Bryan, was arrested for outstanding warrants.

Pennie had spent time in Brazos County Jail 11 times since 1997 prior to his latest stay, according to the county website. More than half of those arrests involved a charge of evading arrest. His latest arrest was his second in 2008 for aggravated kidnapping.

Sheriff Kirk says Pennie was considered a maximum security risk by jail officials.

"We had no indication that he was about to do what he did, so this certainly changes his classification," Kirk said, adding that Pennie has been removed from the regular jail population and isolated.

The recreation yard Pennie escaped from had just been opened Thursday, and was a temporary yard. The old rec yard was closed because part of the new jail facility is being built on it.

Kirk says his office is working with the contractor and architect to properly secure that temporary yard, which is not currently in use. Instead, another area is being used for recreation with added security in place.

An additional $7,000 bond was added to Pennie's total because of the new escape charge. His total bond now stands at $175,000.

Escaping while confined in a secure correctional facility is, at minimum, a third degree felony charge, according to the Texas Penal Code.

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