A Knox man who stole a Kouts Police squad car earlier this year and fled
pursuing officers has been sentenced to probation, after pleading guilty to
charges of auto theft and escape.
Last week William E. Blankenship II, 22, was sentenced to two years in the
Indiana Department of Correction on the auto theft charge and five on the
escape charge, the sentences to be served concurrently. Then Porter Superior
Court Judge Roger Bradford suspended the whole of the sentence but for the
264 days which Blankenship already served in jail awaiting disposition.
As a condition of his formal probation, Blankenship—who is currently in
custody in Illinois—must “continue with mental health and substance abuse
treatment” and must pay court costs and restitution totaling $1,766.91,
according to Bradford’s sentencing order.
In exchange for his guilty plea, two others charges were dismissed: fleeing
law enforcement and criminal mischief. Blankenship was ordered to report to
the Porter County Adult Probation Department within 24 hours of his release
from custody in Illinois.
Auto theft is a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three
years; to the advisory sentence of 18 months, Bradford added six months.
Escape is a Class C felony; to the advisory sentence of four years, Bradford
added one year. In his sentencing order, Bradford cited Blankenship’s
“lengthy criminal history” as an aggravating circumstance. He found no
On Jan. 10, Blankenship was stopped by a KPD officer at the Family Express
at Ind. 8 and Ind. 49. The officer was conducting an inventory of
Blankenship’s vehicle when Blankenship, handcuffed, managed to get behind
the wheel of the squad car and flee the scene, the Porter County Sheriff’s
Police said. At some point in his flight he made contact with the 911
dispatcher to ask where he could find the squad’s cigarette lighter and a
handcuff key. The dispatcher instead tried to persuade Blankenship to pull
over and give himself up.
The squad car was recovered, wrecked and submerged in water, in LaPorte
County a day later, with the officer’s loaded shotgun and rifle still
inside. Blankenship surrendered to authorities on Jan. 12.