The convicted felon who escaped from Reynolds Memorial Hospital on Tuesday was arrested in Belmont County on Wednesday evening.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Chad Simpson said authorities received an anonymous tip around 5 p.m. Wednesday saying Shannon Plunkett was staying at a friend's home in Martins Ferry. Soon after, law enforcement located the residence, arrested Plunkett without incident and booked her into the Belmont County Jail.
Plunkett, 36, pleaded guilty in Ohio County Circuit Court on Tuesday morning to one count of delivery of a schedule II controlled substance. She was convicted of selling a quantity of oxycodone to an Ohio Valley Drug Task Force cooperating informant in October. Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht sentenced her to one to 15 years in prison.
Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler said following her guilty plea, a deputy was transporting Plunkett to the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville when the woman became unresponsive in the back seat of the vehicle. Emergency personnel arrived on the scene and transported Plunkett to Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale.
She escaped custody subsequent to receiving treatment and reportedly fled the area of the hospital by catching a ride to South Wheeling with an unsuspecting motorist. Recht issued an arrest warrant, charging Plunkett with felony escape and ordering she be incarcerated immediately upon capture.
Simpson said following Plunkett's escape, she provided a woman with a fabricated story so she could borrow her vehicle. Plunkett reportedly drove that vehicle around the Wheeling and Moundsville area. Simpson said after Plunkett was arrested, she told him she drove by three State Police troopers in Moundsville. The vehicle was ultimately returned to its owner, but not by Plunkett. Simpson said investigators have been told it was returned by Plunkett's brother, whom he said is from Ohio, but that it could not be confirmed.
Butler said his office will pursue charges against one of Plunkett's family members, but declined to divulge any further details.
Simpson added Plunkett was an alleged prescription pill abuser and authorities have learned through investigations that a difficult detox process in prison may have been her motivation for escape.
Plunkett was indicted on two counts of delivery of a schedule II controlled substance.
Both of those sales allegedly occurred within 1,000 feet of a school - a specification that would have added an additional four years to her prison sentence. According to the terms of a plea agreement, a second count of delivery against Plunkett and the school specification would not be prosecuted in exchange for her guilty plea to one count of delivery.
If investigators determine Plunkett took prescription drugs prior to her guilty plea, the plea agreement may be nullified and prosecutors could proceed to trial on all charges against her. During court proceedings Tuesday, Plunkett told Recht she had not taken prescription drugs in the previous 24 hours. If that is determined to be false, she will have lied under oath and Recht may reject the deal.
"There is a possibility we would proceed to trial if it would be in our best interest," Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said.
Plunkett's escape presents a unique case for the prosecution, Smith added. She was convicted for a crime committed in Ohio County and was in the custody of the Ohio County Sheriff's Department at the time of her escape in Marshall County. He said the terms of jurisdiction will be researched to determine which county has the right to prosecute the escape charge against Plunkett.
Staff Writer J.W. Johnson Jr. contributed to this report.