12 inmates escape county jail; 11 back in custody; search continues for 1 other

Posted 7/31/17

By ED HOWELL

Daily Mountain Eagle

Twelve inmates, including two jailed for attempted murder, escaped from the Walker County Jail in Jasper Sunday night, launching an all-night manhunt that …

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12 inmates escape county jail; 11 back in custody; search continues for 1 other

Posted

By ED HOWELL

Daily Mountain Eagle

Twelve inmates, including two jailed for attempted murder, escaped from the Walker County Jail in Jasper Sunday night, launching an all-night manhunt that recaptured 11 of the prisoners by daybreak.

One inmate, Brady Andrew Kilpatrick, 24, Cordova, was still the focus of a manhunt as of press time Monday. Like the previous escapees who were caught, a $500 reward was offered for information leading to his capture.

The large scale breakout, which was announced when six had already been recaptured, shocked local residents and led to coverage by news agencies such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox and CBS, as well as state media outlets overnight. Residents in Jasper were warned to stay indoors and turn on outside lights.

The escapees climbed over a 15-foot razor wire fence at the jail to escape, Sheriff Jim Underwood said at a press conference outside the jail on Monday.

Public announcement of the incident did not come until hours after it started. Jasper police released a statement at 9:09 p.m., saying the department had activated additional personnel to assist in the manhunt. “We ask downtown residents stay indoors and turn on all outdoor lighting,” the post said. Officials with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office posted about the escape about 9:30 p.m. Sunday on the department’s Facebook page.

The escape was discovered by a jail employee about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Underwood.

“The Sheriff has activated off duty personnel and the Jasper Police Department is providing assistance,” the Sheriff’s Office posted.

Parrish Police, Constables and (the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s) Aviation Unit with FLIR have provided assistance as well.” 

A $500 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of the escapees.

The first six inmates who were captured after their escape included:

•Johnny Richard Hunter, 26, Jasper, who was in jail for third-degree burglary, fourth-degree theft, possession of burglar tools, first-degree theft and Court Referral Office violation.

•Christopher Cole Spain, 18, Jasper, who was in jail for failure to appear on disorderly conduct.

•Kristopher Keith Secrest, 20, Oakman, who was in jail for felony second-degree domestic violence and giving false information to law enforcement.

•Quadrekas Latoddrick Key, 21, Parrish, who was in jail for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and attempting to elude.

•Timothy Chaz Cooper, 28, Cordova, who was in jail for breaking and entering a motor vehicle and fourth-degree theft.

•Steven Sanford Hartley, 27, Hoover, who was in jail for first-degree theft of property.

Those who were still at-large at the time of the initial announcement included the following:

•Steven Blake Lamb, 28, Quinton, who was in jail for attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree theft, reckless endangerment and probation revocation.

•Christopher Micheal Smith, 19, Jasper, who was in jail for attempted murder, first-degree burglary, unlawful breaking and entering and second-degree theft.

•Michael Adam McGuff, 30, Jasper, who was in jail for third-degree escape and obstructing government operations.

•Kilpatrick, who was in jail for possession of controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and second-degree possession of marijuana.

•Larry Inman Jr, 29, Parrish, who was in jail for two counts of receiving stolen property, attempting to elude, failure to appear.

•Ethan Howard Pearl, 24, Jasper, who was in jail for resisting arrest, obstructing government operations, possession of drug paraphernalia, promoting prison contraband and failure to appear on fourth-degree theft.

By 10:42 p.m., two more had been recaptured, according to al.com, identified by CNN as being Lamb (one of the two prisoners in for attempted murder) and McGuff. By 2:30 a.m., Parrish Mayor Heather Hall, who noted several of the escapees had been arrested by Parrish police, said two more had been recaptured, leaving four. CNN had confirmation of two more recaptured by 4:26 a.m.

However, that still left two more, including Smith, one of the attempted murder prisoners. At 5:10 a.m., CNN had confirmation from the sheriff authorities that Smith had been recaptured, leaving only Kilpatrick still out.

According to sheriff officials, Hunter, Cooper, Secrest, Spain and Hartley were the first to be arrested on the 2700 block of Preston Avenue.

Key was arrested by Jasper police at location unknown at this time.

Lamb and McGuff were arrested by Jasper police at Simmons Road in a wooded area. Inman and Pearl were arrested in the area of Flying J Truck Stop on Daniel Payne Road in Birmingham, with most reports saying those two were arrested at about 2 p.m.

Smith was arrested at Steadman Cemetery, walking down Alabama Highway 124.

Meanwhile, Facebook was flooded with comments over the matter, many asking repeatedly how 12 people could escape at one time from the jail.

National and state media began to cover the situation into the evening.

Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said at about 7:45 p.m. that Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe called him, saying Poe had just learned of the jail break and that the county had reached out for assistance from the city to apprehend the escapees.

“We immediately deployed our tactical force and brought in all of our investigators and put our patrol personnel on a high alert,” O’Mary said. “We asked them to be in a support role to the county in this effort. That continued through the night.” 

O’Mary said the county does not view the remaining escapee to “be a threat to our people.”

He said he was told by Poe that the Jasper force played a key role in apprehending “a high percentage” of the escapees overnight.

“From what I understand in talking to our police chief, the escapees, after getting out of jail, rather than disbursing, stayed in one particular area — I don’t know the area. That helped in us being able to make a quick apprehension,” O’Mary said.

Poe said he was grateful to the public for their assistance. “Calls and tips from the public is what led to the majority of the arrests,” Poe said. “I’m extremely proud of how the police with the JPD stepped up.” Jasper arrested eight or nine of the 11 recaptured inmates, he said.

He said that the cooperative effort of law enforcement agencies to recapture 11 inmates that quickly in the incident demonstrated good law enforcement.

No injuries or equipment damage were suffered by Jasper police during the effort, O’Mary said.

O’Mary planned to praise the efforts of the police department at the next Jasper City Council meeting. “I want to do something to show our appreciation for the professionalism and the commitment to their jobs that has made this happen,” the mayor said. “We know when you have 12 escapees, it strikes fear in everybody. To deal with this in less than a 24-hour period is just remarkable.” He encouraged the residents to thank the law enforcement for their work, saying he was very proud of them.

He said getting the information out to the public was somewhat difficult, noting social media worked well to get the word out, especially on Facebook.

Constable Jeff Nelson of the Walker County Constables Association said four local constables participated by stopping vehicles and searching them, including the trunk areas.

County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop, who attended Underwood’s press conference Monday, said afterward the sheriff and his men “have done a heck of a job” and that he supports them. “I’ve always supported them,” he said. “It’s one of those things and that’s all I am going to say about it.”

Anyone with information that could lead to Kilpatrick’s capture may call the Sheriff’s Office at 205-302-6464.