Escaped Alabama inmate recaptured in Tennessee

MARION COUNTY, Tenn. (WHNT) — An inmate that reportedly escaped last week from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) was found in Tennessee, authorities say.

Johnny Payne Lewis, 48, escaped from the Elba Community Based Facility in Coffee County around 6:50 a.m. on June 2, according to ADOC.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee was able to take Lewis back into custody around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. Marion County is approximately five hours from Coffee County.

Payne is serving a 20-year sentence for receiving stolen property, a crime he was charged with committing in Jackson County in 2012, as reported by

Agents through both the Jackson County and DeKalb County Sheriff’s Offices at the time arrested Payne, from Bridgeport, in the Greens Chapel community. According to a release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Payne had outstanding warrants for failure to appear on a contempt of court charge.

In that release, the sheriff’s office stated that Payne was arrested on the outstanding warrant, and was also charged with first-degree theft of property after investigators found a stolen vehicle in a barn. Payne had been a prime suspect for the theft of the vehicle. He was also found with methamphetamine, the release said.

Johnny Payne Lewis after his 2012 arrest. Courtesy of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

A search of the vehicle found a small amount of liquid, believed to be “meth oil” and a small-caliber handgun, according to the release.

At the time of his escape, ADOC reported Payne to be a white male, standing around 5’9, weighing about 170 pounds with blue eyes. They also described him as being bald and wearing a state-issued brown uniform.

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