Owensville man escapes Maries County Sheriff’s custody, returned next day by neighboring sheriff’s office

Posted 8/18/21

Christopher Koepke, 35, of Owensville, was apprehended early this morning by Gasconade County deputies in the city of Bland.

Deputies conducted a consensual search in the early morning hours of …

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Owensville man escapes Maries County Sheriff’s custody, returned next day by neighboring sheriff’s office

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VIENNA — Christopher Koepke, 35, of Owensville, was captured in the morning hours of Aug. 18 by Gasconade County Sheriff’s deputies in the city of Bland while trying to evade arrest in Maries County.

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman, who was participating in a sheriff’s conference during the capture, escape and subsequent recapture, said Wednesday morning that Kopeke was being held back at the jail in Vienna.

“He was turned over to our deputies and is now safely secured in our jail,”Heitman said. “His defense was that he didn’t know that he wasn’t free to leave. Anyone who thought they weren’t in trouble would have walked out the door and not ran away. His less than 24-hours of additional freedom may cost him another four years in prison. He will be labeled in the Department of Corrections as a flight risk so he won’t be in minimum security.”

Gasconade County sheriff’s deputies were able to take Koepke into custody during the early morning hours of Aug 18 following a consensual search of a Bland residence located on High Street. Koepke was hiding in the crawl space under the residence. He was taken into custody without incident and turned over to the Maries County Sheriff’s Department.

Koepke escaped custody of the Maries County Sheriff’s Office the previous morning, Aug. 17, during the booking process. 

“He didn’t make it to the jail for the record,” Heitman said. “He was still in an unsecured area when he escaped.”

Koepke was wanted on multiple charges. He was lured to the sheriff’s office by his bondsman before being turned over to Maries County and later escaping.

“The bondsman brought him in and told the dispatcher Koepke had a warrant. The dispatcher went to bring them to the booking area,” Heitman said. “Prior to making the secured area, (Koepke) booked it. The female jailer wasn’t able to grab him and wrestle him down in time and (Koepke) made it out.”

Heitman attributed Koepke’s escape to multiple circumstances, including that the department usually staffs two jailers at a time, but three jailers are out with COVID.

“Due to COVID illness amongst staff, short staffing at the sheriff’s office provided Koepke with the ability to flee during the booking process and before being admitted into the jail,” Heitman said. “Our jail is not an adequate jail. Not being able to control access to exterior doors because of the short staffing and the need for an updated sheriff’s office and jail are the primary causes for the escape.”

Heitman believes this is one of the only sheriff’s departments in the state that is unsecured. The jail facility cannot be locked down. He said he has spoken with Maries County Commissioners about the issue previously and hopes something will be done in the near future.

Heitman said they will be charging Koepke with a Class E felony — escape from custody — which carries a minimum four year sentence. He said that the reasons for the escape are multiple. Koepke was held on other local charges and warrants while the new charges are pending. Previous charges included active Capias Warrants for failure to appear in court for felony possession of controlled substance, misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and two misdemeanor traffic violations.

Original Story written Aug. 17 for The Maries County Advocate and Gasconade County Republican: Owensville man escapes Maries County Sheriff’s Office

The Maries County Sheriff’s Department is looking for a 35-year-old Owensville man who escaped custody on Aug. 16 during the booking process.

Christopher Koepke is wanted on multiple warrants.

“He didn’t make it to the jail for the record,” Maries County Sheriff Heitman said. “He was still in an unsecured area when he escaped.”

According to Heitman, Koepke had active Capias Warrants for failure to appear in court for felony possession of controlled substance, misdemeanor unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and two misdemeanor traffic violations.

Koepke’s bondsman convinced him to appear at the sheriff’s office using a ruse. Koepke didn’t come to the sheriff’s office thinking he was going to be arrested, according to Heitman. Koepke did not know he was going to be detained.

“The bondsman brought him in and told the dispatcher Koepke had a warrant. The dispatcher went to bring them to the booking area,” Heitman said. “Prior to making the secured area, (Koepke) booked it. The female jailer wasn’t able to grab him and wrestle him down in time and (Koepke) made it out.”

According to the sheriff, the department usually staffs two jailers at a time, but three jailers are out with COVID.

The sheriff said they will be charging Koepke with a Class E felony — escape from custody — which carries a minimum four year sentence. He said that the reasons for the escape are multiple.

“Due to COVID illness amongst staff, short staffing at the sheriff’s office provided Koepke with the ability to flee during the booking process and before being admitted into the jail,” Heitman said. “Our jail is not an adequate jail. Not being able to control access to exterior doors because of the short staffing and the need for an updated sheriff’s office and jail are the primary causes for the escape.”

Heitman believes this is one of the only sheriff’s departments in the state that has an unsecured sheriff’s office. The jail facility cannot be locked down. He said he has spoken with Maries County Commissioners about the issue previously and hopes something will be done in the near future.

A previous mugshot of Koepke is available on the Office of Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman Facebook page. Heitman noted that Koepke had a shaved head when he appeared at the sheriff’s office on Monday.

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