Escaped Ohio rape suspect committed suicide as police closed in
ABC News(ANTWERP, Ohio) — The Ohio rape suspect who overpowered a sheriff’s deputy and escaped police custody last week committed suicide on Monday as police attempted to recapture him, officials said.
Branden Lee Powell, 32, fatally shot himself late Monday evening as authorities attempted to lure him from a crawl space in his parent’s home in a rural area of Antwerp, Ohio, located about three hours north of Cincinnati.
“Efforts were made by law enforcement personnel to successfully and peacefully bring Powell out of the crawl space and place him in custody; however, Powell did not comply with those efforts,” the Paulding County Sheriff’s office said in a statement Monday. “Branden Lee Powell chose to take his own life by gunshot at approximately 9:30 p.m.”
Authorities, including the FBI and U.S. Marshalls, had been working non-stop to recapture Powell after he stole a sheriff’s deputy gun while in a transport van on Friday afternoon and ordered the deputy at gunpoint to remove his restraints, police said.
“While this is not the outcome law enforcement had hoped for, law enforcement hopes the community can rest knowing this armed and dangerous individual is no longer a danger to the community,” the sheriff’s office statement said.
Powell — who was being transported from a psychiatric hospital in Toledo to the Paulding County Jail in northwest Ohio at the time — was in leg shackles and in handcuffs secured to a belly belt when he jumped over the seat and put the deputy in a headlock and caused the vehicle to crash into a ditch, according to police.
After getting into a struggle with the officer, Powell stole the duty’s gun and handcuffed him to the steering wheel, police said.
He then disabled the vehicle’s police radio and engine and fled the scene, authorities said, adding that he managed to get away with the deputy’s wallet, cellphone, gun and 30 rounds of ammunition.
The deputy suffered minor injuries from the incident.
Powell was jailed in July on rape, attempted rape and sexual battery charges, and sent to the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital after he attempted to commit suicide while in custody.
Officials had offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to his apprehension.
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