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Inmate with 'violent history with law enforcement' escapes from Morgan County Jail

John Kaleb Gillespie
John Kaleb Gillespie

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office said do not approach him because he "has a violent history with law enforcement."

Posted: Oct 27, 2019 3:50 PM
Updated: Oct 28, 2019 9:55 AM

The Morgan County Sheriff's Office is searching for an inmate who escaped on Sunday. 

He is identified as 30-year-old John Kaleb Gillespie.

Investigators said he is 6 feet tall and 180 pounds.

Jail officials said if you have any information on his whereabouts, do not approach him, but instead call 911. They said he "has a violent history with law enforcement."

According to the Morgan County Sheriff's Office, about 12:20 p.m. Sunday, another inmate boosted Gillespie over a wall and he climbed past barbed wire by using bed sheets. Officials said it only took about 30 seconds. 

His disappearance was noted during an inmate head count about 2:45 p.m. Both Gillespie and the inmate who assisted him will be charged with First-Degree Escape. MCSO Spokesman Mike Swafford said Gillespie may face additional charges depending on the circumstances of his recapture.

The Decatur, Hartselle and Summerville police departments and the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office are helping with the search. The U.S. Marshals Service also has volunteered.

Most recently, Gillespie was charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in June. According to court records, on May 28, 2019, he "attempted to have a cell phone and cigar brought to him into the Morgan County Jail, on an attorney client visit using a juvenile." That juvenile did make it into the jail, but she was caught by jail staff.

Gillespie is scheduled for a bench trial on that charge on Dec. 3. He was previously in jail on a drug trafficking charge. 

Back on Nov. 3, 2018, Moulton Police said he led them on a chase during which they said he rammed a marked Alabama State Trooper patrol car. He was able to escape from that event, but police did recover the car. 

The State of Alabama filed a civil case to seize the car and the $17,120 that was inside it. In a court filing, attorneys argued that "The vehicle was used for drug trafficking, the attempted murder of an Alabama State Trooper and the currency is believed to be the proceeds of illegal drug activity." Inside the car, they found "114 vials of THC and CBD oils." 

Law enforcement officials were able to track Gillespie to a home in Decatur where he was eventually apprehended and charged with trafficking marijuana. 

He was indicted on the charge on March 9, 2019, and was scheduled to stand trial on March 16, 2020. 

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Morgan County Sheriff's Office or call 911.

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