Thomas Lee Williams didn’t make it very long on the outside, police say.
The 36-year-old man had just served time at the Hempfield state prison near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a drug conviction when he earned his release. It did not last very long, TriLive.com reported.
Police say Williams attacked a 65-year-old woman in the prison parking lot, stealing her sport utility vehicle, and making off with her 1-year-old grandson in the back seat. Williams only made it about 15 minutes before he crashed into a tree and tried to steal another car before ultimately fleeing the vehicle into a wooded area. As Cleveland 19 reported, police officers with a canine team were able to flush the suspect out of his hiding spot, and he was arrested again.
Williams had been convicted of selling drugs in 2016 but was paroled after several months. He was sent back to the state prison in March 2017 for failing to pay overdue costs and fees, the report noted.
Police are trying to learn why Williams may have taken the car, and noted that he had no prior relationship to the victim. Both the woman and her grandson were taken to the hospital for evaluation, but neither was found to have suffered any serious injuries.
The strange case made national headlines, with many sharing the story of Williams’ short release on social media. Some wondered if he was aiming to go back to jail given the almost immediate nature of his alleged offenses, while others speculated that he may have simply needed a ride.
OUT OF PRISON, BACK IN PRISON— WBNG 12 News (@WBNG12News) December 6, 2018
Westmoreland County Prison officials say that moments after 36-year-old Thomas Lee Williams was released, he attacked a woman in the parking lot Tuesday evening and stole her car with the victim's 1-year-old in the back seat. https://t.co/YfomslXnlO pic.twitter.com/vNeg6ESOh2
Williams is not the only person accused of committing a crime at the worst possible time and place. Earlier this summer, police in Kentucky said they caught a woman trying to sell methamphetamine to two other men — in the back of a courtroom as they were waiting to go before a judge.
As the Kentucky New Era reported, a deputy overheard Telby Fields offering to sell the drugs and followed her outside the courtroom. She then tried to hide in a car with two other people in it, but police ordered all of them to get out and she was arrested. Another passenger in the car ran away from police, did a “swan dive” into a nearby stream, and eluded police for several hours, the report noted. All three were ultimately arrested.
Thomas Lee Williams is charged with kidnapping, robbery of a vehicle, and two counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He is now back in jail on $250,000 bail.