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Dayton-connected prison escapee outruns deputies while handcuffed during capture

A prison escapee with reported ties to Dayton who was on the run and considered armed and dangerous was captured – but not before trying to outrun police again while handcuffed. 

» EARLIER REPORT: Search continues for escaped West Virginia inmate with Dayton ties

Charles Wentz, who escaped from Steven’s Correctional Center in McDowell County, W.Va. on Sunday, was captured by deputies with the help of a police dog Thursday in southern Ohio, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office. 

Wentz, 39, and a woman allegedly shoplifted from a discount store, prompting a call to authorities. Deputies located their vehicle and, after a short search, apprehended and handcuffed Wentz.

But while walking to the patrol car, Wentz fled on foot and disappeared into a wooded area near Burlington, according to a sheriff’s office release. 

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A deputy with a K-9 officer tracked Wentz for about a mile, where he was found in brush near U.S. 52 and County Road 120, according to Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless.

» MORE: Area K-9s get $6K titanium teeth, and 5 other memorable stories about police dogs in Ohio

Wentz was initially incarcerated for fleeing from an officer in a vehicle, felony DUI, grand larceny and other offences, according to the Associated Press. 

State troopers in West Virginia said Wentz had connections to Huntington, W.V., as well as the Dayton area. Local police and state troopers said earlier this week they were not notified of Wentz’s escape and not actively searching for him in the Dayton area.

» MORE: 7 inmates suspected of aiding Warren County escape

Lawrence County is Ohio’s southernmost county, which includes the area just across the Ohio River from Huntington, W.V. Welch, W.V., located in McDowell County, is in the southwest West Virginia, about 130 miles south of Huntington.

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