Handcuffed Man Steals Police Car, Radios About Key

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A handcuffed drug suspect who stole and wrecked a police cruiser in northwest Indiana is still on the loose, but he did not take any loaded weapons from the car, authorities said Wednesday.

William Francis Blankenship stole the car Tuesday evening in Kouts, Porter County, and subsequently used the police radio to ask where to find the car's cigarette lighter - and a key to unlock himself, police said.

"There was a conversation between him and one of our officers," Porter County Sheriff's Sgt. Larry LaFlower said. The sheriff's deputy did not tell Blankenship how to remove the handcuffs or use the cigarette lighter, and instead tried to talk Blankenship into pulling over and giving himself up, LaFlower said.

Police found the town cruiser Wednesday morning "wrecked and
submerged in water" in nearby LaPorte County, and Blankenship, 22,
was no longer with the vehicle, he said.

LaFlower said loaded weapons that had been left in the vehicle were still there when the wreck was discovered. Earlier, police had said Blankenship should be considered armed and dangerous.

The sole police officer on duty arrested Blankenship on drug charges Tuesday evening in Kouts, a small Indiana town about 50 miles southeast of Chicago. The suspect somehow managed to escape
from the back of the car, climb in the front and drive it away, police said. The officer wasn't injured, LaFlower said.

LaFlower didn't explain the nature of the drug allegations against Blankenship nor how he managed to escape and drive while handcuffed.

"That's still under investigation," he said.

Kouts Town Marshal David Freeland declined comment and referred
questions to the sheriff's department.

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