GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee revealed new details in fugitive Sean Williams’s escape from a prison transport van last month in Greeneville.
Williams faces a slew of charges, including federal counts of child porn production and state counts of child rape. He has also been a key figure in ongoing lawsuits involving the City of Johnson City and its police department.
Williams escaped custody by kicking out the window of the van transporting him from the Laurel County, Ky. Jail to the federal courthouse in Greeneville, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. The jailer at the Laurel County Jail previously stated in a since-deleted social media post that Williams could have possibly used a paper clip and headrest to remove his restraints and escape.
U.S. Marshal David Jolley joined NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield Tuesday night to discuss Williams’s Oct. 18 escape while en route to a hearing regarding federal charges he was facing. While on the air, Jolley said there was a camera in the back of the van, but it did not capture anything that occurred during the trip from Kentucky to Greeneville.
“There is a camera in that van, but the camera was not working,” Jolley said on Banfield. “So very questionable as well. There were a lot of failures at the particular time.”
Jolley previously told News Channel 11 that the Marshals Service would be looking into exactly how Williams was able to remove his restraints and get out of the van without being detected. He also said roughly 12 hours after the escape that prosecution would be brought against anyone found to have helped Williams return to fugitive status.
“There’s just so many questions related to how did this happen,” Jolley said Tuesday night. “We’ve had numerous, numerous questions. I can make a long list of all the questions of just how in the world could this possibly happen without the transport officers knowing that he was able to get out of that van. Especially since there were two officers in there, and this guy had handcuffs, and the handcuffs were found inside the van. Somehow, he was able to get out of those. We don’t know how that happened. It’s not easy to get out of handcuffs.”
According to Jolley, if Williams was restrained as protocol demands, then he should have had a belly chain and leg irons in addition to handcuffs.
Jolley has repeatedly told News Channel 11 that questions continue to circulate regarding how Williams’s escape went undetected by the officers in the van.
“Obviously, there was a failure by the transport team of some sort,” Jolley said. “Whether they were in collusion in some way, whether it was pure negligence, or exactly how it happened, investigators are looking into that part of it as we speak led by the FBI. We’d like to know those answers ourselves.”
Jolley also spoke to a reported incident in Greeneville in which a woman told investigators Williams showed up to her home about an hour after the van arrived at the courthouse without him.
“He walked to the front porch of a woman and had a lot of blood on him and asked to use the phone,” Jolley said. “She did not allow him to use the phone. Obviously, this seemed to be pretty alarming to her. She was not aware of the escape at the time, and it was a little while later before she actually called law enforcement and let us know that a man had been to the house. She had heard by then that there had been an escape and it might have been Sean Williams.”
Williams reportedly moved on after being denied the phone usage by the woman, and she was unscathed by the encounter, Jolley said on Banfield’s show.
Earlier in November, Jolley told News Channel 11 Williams’s trail had gone cold, and tips and possible sightings had not resulted in anything substantial. He echoed that when speaking with Banfield Tuesday, saying no new leads had surfaced in the near month since Williams disappeared.
While Jolley could not speak to whether or not Williams has since armed himself, the Marshals Service does consider him “a very dangerous individual, a desperate individual who does not — in any circumstances — want to go back to incarceration.”
Williams is not a stranger to being on the run. He spent nearly two years as a fugitive after being indicted on a federal ammunition charge before being arrested in North Carolina in late April 2023 by a Western Carolina University police officer.
Williams also allegedly attempted to escape the Washington County Detention Center prior to being moved to Laurel County.
Any sightings or knowledge of Williams’s whereabouts are asked to immediately be reported to the Marshals Service by calling 877-926-8332.