Escaped rape suspect, cornered, kills himself, sheriff says

Branden Lee Powell in undated photo

Paulding County Sheriff's Office

PAULDING COUNTY, Ohio -- An accused rapist who had escaped from Paulding County authorities last week committed suicide during a standoff with authorities Monday night, reports CBS Toledo affiliate WTOL-TV.

Authorities said 32-year-old Branden Lee Powell overpowered a sheriff's deputy in a transport van, stole his gun and fled on Friday during a trip from a psychiatric hospital to a county jail.

Powell was in leg shackles and handcuffs when he managed to jump over the seat and put the deputy in a headlock, causing the van to crash. He grabbed the deputy's gun and ordered him to remove the restraints, the Paulding County Sheriff's office said.

Powell was jailed last month on rape, attempted rape and sexual battery charges.

Sheriff Jason Landers said in a statement that federal, state and local authorities found Powell hiding in a basement crawl space of his parents' home in Antwerp.

They tried to get Powell to give up but instead, he shot himself to death, Landers said.

"While this is not the outcome law enforcement had hoped for, law enforcement hopes the community can rest knowing this armed and dangerous individual is no longer a danger to the community," Landers added.

The deputy in the van Friday suffered minor injuries.

"He fought as long as he could, and as well as he could," Landers said.

There were no mesh or other barriers separating the front and back of the van, but they will be added, Landers said.

While the search for Powell was ongoing, on Sunday, Landers expressed frustration over the whole incident, reports CBS affiliate WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

"I'm angry with myself," he said. "I take accountability for my office and the actions of my office. There's a couple of things I know could have prevented this issue from happening that are changes that we'll put in place immediately administratively."

"He was properly restrained, he was properly shackled, and he was properly belted," he continued. "This individual is a unique situation. He had a plan. He had thought out what he was going to do and he had the opportunity. What I'm most upset about myself is if he didn't have the opportunity, [we] wouldn't be here today," trying to track Powell down.