Richland Parish Corrections
Craig Rannells, 43, was arrested Tuesday in the Keys. He escaped from prison in Louisiana in December.
A convicted sex offender who escaped from a Louisiana prison the day before Christmas led police on a short chase in a stolen car before crashing and being taken into the custody in the Keys Tuesday night, authorities said.
According to police, Craig Rannells stole a red Mini Cooper and was driving out of Key West when they spotted him at around 11:40 p.m.
As he drove over a bridge onto Stock Island police activated their sirens and thought Rannells, 43, was going to stop. Instead, he took off again, but before long crashed into utility boxes when he tried to make a sharp turn.
He was arrested as he exited the vehicle. Police say Rannells admitted that he stole the vehicle when he saw it parked on the side of Duval Street with the keys in the ignition.
According to an incident report, when police asked the suspect why he tried to elude them, "Rannells replied he is an escaped convict from a Louisiana corrections facility and he has been on the run for the past month-and-a-half."
He was charged with auto theft, fleeing and eluding police and driving with a suspended license.
Terry Thompson, Chief Deputy of the Richland Parish Police Department north of Baton Rouge, confirmed that Rannells had escaped from prison before Christmas.
“He was a hall trustee who was allowed to go out on the grounds to get supplies,” said Thompson. “He made a couple of trips and then didn’t come back.”
Thompson said Rannells had been in prison originally for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape. After being released, he he was arrested again in 2006 when he violated his parole by stealing a car, the deputy said.
Thompson said Rannells hadn’t received had a single visitor or even a phone cal since 2006.
When told that Rannells allegedly stole a car in Key West, Thompson said it fit his previous arrest history.