Deputies sweep East Tennessee winery in search for escaped inmates


FENTRESS COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – A Fentress County inmate is still on the run, and another has been taken into custody. The Fentress County Sheriff’s Office says a pair of inmates escaped from the jail on Monday morning.

Charles Kennedy, 35.

Casey Ridenour was caught Tuesday morning, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Agents say Charles Kennedy still hasn’t been found.

Rhonda Moody, the owner of Highland Manor Winery, says the two men were once spotted at her business.

She details the automated phone call she got on Monday morning.

“I was here by myself, and the phone rings. I answer. It simply said Fentress County Sheriff’s Department is on the lookout for two escaped inmates. They were last seen at Highland Manor Winery. Please be on the lookout. Don’t approach them. Call 911,” Moody said. “Instinct was to look at the cameras and make sure no one was in the building with me. It was kind of eerie.”

Moody says she locked down as deputies swept the property. They surveyed more than 70 acres of it.

“Every nook and cranny. Every closet. Just looking in any place that they could possibly be hiding,” she said.

That wasn’t the last she she say of state and local officials. They kept a presence in her parking lot all day long.

“They stationed a state trooper in our parking lot, kind of overlooking everything for a while, and the sheriff’s department actually stayed out here until 9:30 last night,” Moody said.

Overnight, authorities captured one of the inmates. That has brought a sense of relief to Moody, though she said she’s still keeping some precautions in place as the sheriff’s department now tries to find the second escapee.

“Still keeping as much on lockdown as we can,” she said. “We don’t have any extra doors open, we’re not putting our customers out on the patio, we’re still doing inside picnics and things like that just for everyone’s safety.”

The Fentress County Sheriff’s Department is also preaching caution. Their latest social media post warns people around Commerce and Woodlawn Drive to be alert and make sure they don’t leave keys or weapons in their cars.

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