Sheriff says jail escapee back in custody in Utah

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Copiah County authorities say a man who escaped the county jailearlier this month has been apprehended in Utah.

Sheriff Harold Jones said Tuesday morning that authorities inCastledale, Utah, had Sydney Benner, 30, of Panama City, Fla., incustody on charges of felony evasion and car theft.

Jones said car theft was Benner’s signature in his home state,and apparently he had resumed stealing vehicles after his escapefrom Mississippi.

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“He stole one up there in Utah, and possibly one in Colorado aswell,” Jones said.

Benner will be extradited back to Copiah County, Jones said, butonly after police in Utah have dealt with him on the chargesthere.

Jones said Benner’s planned Oct. 4 escape from the Copiah CountyJail occured when a guard went inside briefly. Benner then scaled a10-foot fence topped with two rows of razor wire.

Officials found Benner’s orange jumpsuit and a map both stainedwith blood in the Gallman woods not far from the jail. Officialssaid the map seemed to indicate Benner was headed toward therailroad tracks.

In August, Benner’s initial traffic stop and flight after heattempted to run down a Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper with astolen vehicle spurred a manhunt in the woods at the Martinsvilleexit on Interstate 55. He left the stolen van near a heavily woodedarea where he was able to evade arrest until the next evening, whentroopers picked him up after he tried to flag down a passingtrucker.

In Mississippi, Benner faces one count of fleeing authoritiesand one count of aggravated assault on an officer. In addition, hefaces eight misdemeanor charges, including driving under theinfluence, driving 40 mph over the speed limit, driving without alicense and driving without insurance.

Court records show Benner also faces charges in Bay County,Fla., of robbery, robbery by sudden snatching and grand theft.