An inmate who was booked under a false name became the first person ever to escape from the Christian County Jail early Wednesday morning.
The jail initially identified the escaped inmate as Jose Feliciano, 20, Hopkinsville, but according to a patrolman with the Clarksville Police Department, that information was incorrect.
The man’s actual name is Luis Raul Dechoudens Espinal, and he has a criminal history in Clarksville. Dechoudens was accused of executing a slew of burglaries and shooting at a barge on the Cumberland River in March 2011, according to Clarksville Officer Coz Minetos, who has covered all of the fugitive’s cases.
Christian County Jailer Brad Boyd confirmed via email that Dechoudens is the first person ever to successfully escape from the jail since it opened in 1994.
Boyd said Dechoudens broke himself out by climbing up a basketball goal in the jail’s courtyard to gain access to a ledge. From there, he could reach the chain link fencing covering the courtyard.
“He made a hole in the fencing barely big enough to squeeze through,” Boyd wrote. “From there, he jumped off the roof and fled on foot.”
When authorities at the jail realized what happened, they enlisted a team of bloodhounds to begin tracking the escapee’s scent, said Capt. Chris Miller, spokesman for the Christian County Sheriff’s Department. However, somewhere around Christian Quarry, the dogs lost the trail.
Minetos said this isn’t Dechoudens’ first successful escape either.
“He escaped from us, and we finally caught him,” the Clarksville officer said. “He ripped a chain that was wrapped around his leg off of the wall in our criminal investigation division after shooting the barge. He wasn’t in the jail yet.”
On a tip from someone who knew Dechoudens and with warrants for his arrest in Tennessee, Clarksville police found out he was being held in the Christian County Jail under a fake name. After looking through the jail’s booking pictures, Minetos said, he was able to easily match Dechoudens to the false name based on a tattoo on his neck.
“He didn’t use it (in Clarksville),” Minetos said, referencing the fake identity, which is the same name as a singer best known for recording the song “Feliz Navidad.”
“We never knew him under that name,” Minetos said, “and I guess Hopkinsville never knew him under his real name.”
According to Minetos, CPD contacted the Christian County Jail about the mix up.
However, it seems the jail never changed the man’s name in its online database, and even Wednesday morning on the jail’s website, Dechoudens was still listed as Jose Feliciano.
Considering Dechoudens’ history in Clarksville, Boyd said, it is likely he fled there.
And Minetos said that, as of Wednesday morning, CPD had already gotten tips that Dechoudens was back at the same apartment complex where they arrested him before.
That complex was the last place Clarksville police saw him, Minetos said.
“Just recently before he got picked up in Hopkinsville, we had him in the apartment complex and he escaped from an officer,” Minetos said. “He pulled away, shoved an officer and fled to Hopkinsville.”
Dechoudens first gave Hopkinsville police the alias Jose Feliciano when he was arrested while sitting in a car on West First Street around 2:30 a.m. June 15. Officers were investigating a number of recent burglaries in the area, and Dechoudens ran after being questioned, according to his arrest report.
Police said that, after chasing him twice, Dechoudens allegedly kicked a K-9 unit in the head. Officers also discovered that the car he was in was stolen, according the report.
Dechoudens was charged as Jose Feliciano with first-degree fleeing or evading police, second-degree assault on a service animal and receiving stolen property (less than $10,000).
According to a news release from Sgt. Charles Gill, spokesman for Clarksville police, Dechoudens is also wanted in Montgomery County on charges for of statutory rape, theft, evading and aggravated burglary.
Gill added that Clarksville police will help Hopkinsville authorities as requested.
Miller said the sheriff’s department is keeping alert to any reports of Dechoudens in the area, but so far they’ve received no solid leads.
“He’s probably hiding out and lying low until this all cools off,” Miller said.
Dechoudens is described as a Hispanic man, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing approximately 165 pounds. He has a large tattoo of a star with wings coming off both sides in the center of his neck in the front.
If anyone spots him or has information regarding his whereabouts, they should call 911.
Reach Billy Mitchell at 270-887-3240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.