KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tennessee Most Wanted List fugitive who had been on the run since July 2021 after escaping from an East Tennessee jail has been found dead in Mexico, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Monday.

Charles Kennedy, 35, died more than 2,000 miles away from Fentress County in Iguala, Guerrero in Mexico. That’s about three hours southwest of Mexico City.

Kennedy had been wanted out of Fentress County with fellow inmate Casey Ridenour. The two inmates were seen last July on Tinchtown Road near the Highland Manor Winery after escaping from the Fentress County Sheriff’s Department. ‘

Officials said Kennedy and Ridenour took a correctional officer’s car, driving at speeds of 130 miles per hour before stopping at the end of Delk Street in Jamestown to run on foot. Ridenour was captured the next day, while Kennedy remained at large.

Kennedy was then added to the TBI’s Tennessee Top 10 Most Wanted list at the request of the Fentress County Sheriff. The criteria for a fugitive to be added to the list includes:

  • The crime must have been committed in Tennessee and the crime committed must be a “violent felony” and/or major drug trafficking crime (Class A felony); and
  • The perpetrator must have been identified, and a warrant must be on file for the perpetrator’s arrest; or
  • The perpetrator has escaped from a Tennessee jail or detention facility; or
  • The perpetrator must have escaped from the Tennessee Department of Correction.
  • The Director or his designee must approve the addition of the fugitive to the “Top Ten Most Wanted” list.

TBI said they received information last November that Kennedy may be deceased but were unable to confirm until last week. As of Jan. 24, how Kennedy made it to Mexico and what caused his death are not known.