detector foils prison escape
Device developed in Oak
Ridge helps nab murderer
September 9, 1999
By Laura Ayo, News-Sentinel staff
The heartbeat of a convicted murderer foiled his attempt
to escape from West Tennessee State Penitentiary in
A device dubbed the "heartbeat detector"
gave away Randy Bone's hiding place in a tractor-trailer
headed out of the prison Tuesday afternoon, said Tennessee
Department of Correction spokeswoman Pam Hobbins.
It's the first time, to Hobbins' knowledge, that the
device, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy at
Oak Ridge, has prevented a prison escape since the correction
department installed the equipment for that very purpose
Hobbins said the truck was on its way out of the prison
to Shelbyville, Tenn., after having been loaded with
basketballs, which are inflated and boxed by inmates.
The truck's driver stopped the vehicle at a sally port
check point for a routine exit inspection.
"It's (the heartbeat detector) used every time
a vehicle goes in and out," Hobbins said.
The device uses sensors connected to the vehicle and
a computer to record shock waves emitted from a heartbeat.
It takes less than a minute to make the detection.
When the officers at the check point hooked up the
sensors, Hobbins said, the device indicated someone
was in the truck.
One of the officers crawled into the vehicle and found
Bone hiding under a pallet of large cardboard boxes
near the front portion of the truck, she said.
"They came face to face," Hobbins said. "He
(Bone) had a knife and tried to swipe at the correction
officer, but missed."
She described the knife as a prisoner-made shank.
An internal investigation into how Bone, who is serving
two life sentences for murders committed in 1988 in
Davidson County, got into the truck and obtained the
weapon is being conducted, she added.
"He (Bone) snuck into the truck somehow,"
The people driving the truck did not know he was in
there, she added.
Bone, who had been a "minimum restricted"
inmate, was placed in the maximum security portion of
the prison in a cell by himself, she said.
He will be charged with attempted escape, which is
Hobbins said the Department of Correction purchased
five heartbeat detectors after the device was tested
in 1996 at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.
The devices are located at four maximum security prisons
and a medium security facility, she said.
Laura Ayo may be reached
at 423-521-1843 or firstname.lastname@example.org.