|On January 29, 2016 at approximately 9:00 AM, a Kingsport Police Traffic Enforcement Officer responded to a hit and run motor vehicle collision at the intersection of Wilcox Drive and Lincoln Street in Kingsport. His subsequent investigation revealed the following:
A silver 2002 Lexus ES300 was northbound on Wilcox Drive and had stopped for the red light at the intersection with Lincoln Street. The Lexus was driven by an adult female and was also occupied by four passengers including an adult male and three children under the age of five.
A green 1997 Ford Thunderbird, driven by Swane Douglas Shelton, was also northbound on Wilcox Drive, traveling behind the Lexus. The Ford failed to stop and rear-ended the Lexus. The driver of the Lexus spoke briefly with Mr. Shelton; however, when she pulled her vehicle to the side of the road to await police arrival, Mr. Shelton drove away in his vehicle and fled the scene.
The investigating officer issued an alert to all area law enforcement officers to be on the lookout for the hit and run vehicle. Approximately seven hours later, a Kingsport Police Patrol Officer was summoned to the 900 block of South Wilcox Drive in reference to an alleged stolen vehicle. The alert Patrol Officer immediately sensed something was amiss and called the Traffic Enforcement Officer to the scene.
The individual attempting to report his vehicle stolen was Swane Douglas Shelton, and the alleged stolen vehicle in question was the same green 1997 Ford Thunderbird that he was driving at the time of the earlier hit and run crash. After repeatedly claiming that his vehicle had been stolen, he eventually admitted that it had not been stolen, and that he and the vehicle were in fact involved in the earlier hit and run crash.
Mr. Shelton was arrested for Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Collision Involving Property Damage, False Reporting, Failure to Maintain Control of his Vehicle, and Failure to Comply with the Financial Responsibility Law (No Insurance). He was transported to the Kingsport City Jail for processing but was later released on bail after posting a $5,000 bond as set by the presiding Magistrate.
While these most recent crimes committed by Mr. Shelton would hardly be considered heinous in the grand scheme of things, he is perhaps better known for much more serious criminal activity he committed in the past. After being convicted in 1969 for the Kingsport area shotgun killing of his friend, Gary Curtis Condry, the previous year, Shelton was incarcerated in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, just a few miles northwest of Knoxville.
By sheer coincidence, another killer was also convicted in 1969 for a homicide he committed the previous year in Memphis, and he too was incarcerated in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. This other individual was the infamous James Earl Ray who murdered Martin Luther King, Jr.
On June 10, 1977 Ray, Shelton, and four other inmates escaped together from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Ray and Shelton both had a history of prior escape attempts. They were apprehended a few days later and were returned to prison to complete their respective sentences. Ray later died in Nashville in 1998 while still incarcerated; however, Shelton was eventually released on parole in May 2013.
Shelton has an extensive violent criminal history and is also listed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry as a Registered Sex Offender. He is currently on parole for a 1976 conviction in Michigan where he kidnapped a woman during another earlier prison escape.
This most recent incident involving Mr. Shelton has been reported to the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole for further investigation and potential action. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 15, 2016 at 9:30 AM in General Sessions Court.