Nationwide Manhunt For Escaped Rapist Who Overpowered Deputy, Stole His Gun

Branden Powell stole a deputy's gun and escaped custody on Friday.

Branden Powell stole a deputy’s gun and escaped custody on Friday.

Branden Powell Escape

Paulding, OH –  A dangerous inmate escaped on Friday while being transported from a psychiatric hospital to a local jail.

A nationwide manhunt is underway for Branden Powell, age 32, according to The Washington Post.  The incident occurred about 12 PM on Friday, while the unidentified Paulding County deputy sheriff was transporting him from Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital to the Paulding County Jail.

Paulding County Sheriff Jason Landers said that Powell was in leg shackles and handcuffs secured to a belly belt as he was being transported.  He said that Powell jumped over the seat during the transport, and put the deputy in a headlock, which caused the transport van to crash into a ditch.

Sheriff Landers said Powell grabbed the deputy’s gun during a struggle, and ordered the deputy at gunpoint to remove all of his restraints. He handcuffed the deputy to the steering wheel, disabled the van’s police radio and engine, and fled, with the deputy’s wallet, cellphone, gun, and 30 rounds of ammunition.

The Sheriff said that the deputy “…fought as long as he could, and as well as he could.”  He said that there were no barriers between the front and back of the van, but they would be installed.

Powell was last seen wearing blue jeans, a “dingy” white and brown T-shirt, a brown sweatshirt, and white tennis shoes, according to The Paulding County Sheriff’s Facebook page.

Powell was arrested on July 8 and charged with rape, attempted rape, and sexual battery charges for an alleged assault.  He attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat after he was taken into custody, and had surgery at a local hospital. On July 13, he was transported to the psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

The FBI, the U.S. Marshals, and the Ohio Highway Patrol are assisting the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office in the search and investigation.

If anyone has information on Powell, please call 911.   Anonymous tips can be submitted through The U.S. Marshals have offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of Powell.