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Police: Inmates overpowered technician before escaping Bolivar health institute

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Joseph Bortz (left) and Matthew Inman/ Hardeman County

BOLIVAR, Tenn. — Authorities are searching for two men who escaped from the Western Mental Health Institute Thursday night.

WREG has learned Joseph Bortz and Matthew Inman escaped around 8 p.m. after overpowering a technician and stealing his keys. They were able to make their way to the back of the compound where they somehow made it over the security fence.

Both men have criminal records in Gibson County. They were there to undergo court-ordered mental evaluations, Bolivar police stated.

Phillip Roberts and his family live two miles away from the institute.

“When you hear two people are loose, I mean, being that close, you fear for your life. So, I mean, you do what you got to do,” he said.

After the county sent out an alert, he was prepared to use his guns to protect his wife and two chilren, both younger than 3.


“You know, luckily, they don’t know the difference, but needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep. We stayed up pretty much all night because we knew they were dangerous.”

Bortz is a 31-year-old white male, 5’8″ and weighs 145 pounds. He was taken into custody initially for arson, aggravated assault and resisting arrest among others.

Inman is a 22-year-old biracial man, 5’11” and weighs 165 pounds. He was charged with aggravated robbery, DUI and a weapon violation.

Multiple agencies are now involved in the search including Bolivar police, Hardeman County deputies, the THP and Gibson County deputies.

If you see either man, call 911 immediately.

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