Escaped inmate captured


A Highland County inmate who escaped custody Thursday was captured about 24 hours later in Hamilton County, according to Highland County Chief Deputy Brandon Stratton.

Stratton said the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a suspicious person sitting along SR 52 near Asbury Road along the Ohio River. Officers responded to the scene and took Johnny Davis Branham, 37, of Clermont County, into custody around 5 p.m. Friday.

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera previously said Branham walked out of Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro around 5 p.m. Thursday. At the time he was reportedly only wearing red inmate pants, with no shoes or shirt, and was wearing ankle shackles.

But when he was captured Friday, Stratton said the ankle shackles were gone, and Branham was wearing blue jeans, a shirt, ball cap and shoes, all which appeared to be fairly worn.

“At this time we have no idea where he obtained that stuff from,” Stratton said. “We’re thinking he possibly stole something, but we just haven’t been able to find it yet.”

Stratton said that as of Friday evening, he did not know exactly how Branham got from Highland County to Hamilton County.

“There’s some speculation, but nothing we can say at this time,” Stratton said.

The chief deputy said officials had an idea Branham was headed in the direction where he was found. As a result, the HCSO received assistance from the Brown County, Hamilton County and Clermont County sheriff’s offices; a helicopter and airplane from the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Hillsboro Police Department; and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Branham was being held Friday evening at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a third-degree felony escape charge from Highland County. Stratton said Hamilton County does not have any charges against Branham. He said Branham could waive an extradition hearing and be transported back to Highland County, or if he does not waive the hearing it will likely be held Monday morning.

Barrera previously said that a deputy was watching two inmates at the hospital when Branham asked to go to the restroom and then slipped away.

Surveillance video showed Branham on the back side of the hospital grounds where construction is underway, Barrera said, but officials do not know where he went from there.

Branham was described as a 5-11, 160-pound male with brown hair, blue eyes, and several tattoos.

The sheriff said Branham was in the Highland County Jail on an original charge of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals, a third-degree felony.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

Sheriff says suspect walked out of hospital

By Jeff Gilliland

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