Knox man enters guilty plea in Porter County Court for theft of police car and escape
VALPARAISO — William Blankenship, 23, of Knox, entered a guilty plea on charges of felony escape and auto theft in Porter County Court Monday, Aug. 20 for stealing and crashing a police car Jan. 10, 2012. The charges of fleeing law enforcement and criminal mischief were dropped by prosecutors in exchange for the guilty plea.
Reports state that a maximum prison sentence of six years and restitution for the police car are listed in the plea agreement.
The night of the incident, Blankenship had been stopped at the Family Express gas station in Kouts and placed into police custody on drug charges. The officer cuffed Blankenship and put him in the back of his 2010 white Chevrolet Impala squad car. The officer said he then went to search Blankenship's car and did not realize his squad car was being stolen until he looked up and saw the taillights leaving the parking lot.
Somehow, Blankenship had managed to take off in the police vehicle which was reported to be filled with loaded weapons.
Blankenship later radioed police to ask where he could find a key to the handcuffs and also where the cigarette lighter was located in the car.
Police located the police car in La Porte County Wednesday, Jan. 12 in a drainage ditch. All of the weapons were accounted for. However, Blankenship managed to avoid apprehension until he surrendered to police and was taken into custody late Thursday night, Jan. 13 at his family’s home in Knox.
Blankenship's sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 1