GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The U.S. Marshal overseeing the search for escaped federal detainee Sean Williams said they’ve received no credible leads for a couple of days and that Williams could very well be out of the Greeneville area, but wants area residents to remain vigilant.
“Percentage-wise, the longer we go without any sightings, the higher the likelihood that he has made it out of the Greeneville area,” U.S. Marshal for East Tennessee David Jolley told News Channel 11 Saturday morning via email.
Jolley added that with 72 hours having elapsed since Williams jumped out of a van that was taking him to a federal court hearing here, on-ground and aerial searches aren’t planned for Saturday.
“That could change at a moment’s notice if we receive something of value,” Jolley said.
A 51-year-old who lived in downtown Johnson City until mid-2021, Williams stands accused of numerous federal and state crimes and is also the central figure in two federal lawsuits that have been filed against the City of Johnson City, its police department and several officers. Those suits claim he was a serial rapist whose alleged crimes were overlooked or inadequately investigated.
The Laurel County, Ky. Jail was holding Williams on behalf of the federal government and two jailers were transporting him to a Wednesday hearing when he escaped, despite having entered the van for the trip shackled and handcuffed. He escaped around 8:30 a.m. and was seen still wearing tan jail scrubs by several people that morning.
While he had shaved his head several days before the escape, Jolley said Williams likely has a week’s growth of hair and probably looks more like a photo the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has released showing him with short hair.
Jolley said while Williams has had plenty of time to figure out a way to leave the area, “I have seen these (searches) go on for days and the fugitive turned out to be not far from the escape site.
“Thus, I want to continue to urge local citizens to be vigilant and keep their eyes open for anything that appears unusual on their properties or farms.”
If someone does see something suspicious they should call 911 and someone from law enforcement will come check it out, rather than checking it out on their own.
“I’ve seen plenty of strange things happen in these cases and I don’t want to say anything that would cause citizens in the Greeneville area to let their guard down,” he said.
Williams faces federal charges including production of child pornography and attempted escape related to an alleged July escape attempt. He also faces state counts of child rape. The investigation is continuing into potential charges based on alleged evidence of Williams committing and recording in video or still images dozens of rapes of adult women in his Johnson City apartment.
“Williams is still in the judicial process, which he is trying to avoid by escaping, and we want him back in that process to face those charges,” Jolley said. “Those charges aren’t going away and neither are we.”