Police release more info on captured escapees
BUTLER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - All three escaped inmates from the Butler County Justice Center are back in custody, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.
They were found at JW Walker and Sons Scrap Yard and Recycling just east of Poplar Bluff around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the Butler County Sheriff's Office, Rodney Joe Green, Matthew Brandon Cook and Kade Reaves Stringfellow all escaped around 11:30 Monday night.
Sheriff Mark Dobbs says he is seeking escape from confinement charges on all three inmates who escaped. He is also seekign felony property damage on all three inmates.
Dobbs says the paper work has been sent to prosecutors office.
Police say 15 seconds before the inmates dropped into the lobby from the ceiling, a deputy had left the same room.
They say the three inmates ran through the main jail entrance, to the railroad tracks and then to the scrap yard. All three were found in a vehicle in the scrap yard.
Green was being held on numerous assault charges, Cook and Stringfellow were being held for murder.
The search spanned from the Poplar Bluff area and into Little Rock, Ark., but the suspects were found just 4 miles from the jail.
"It is evident to us that they obviously traveled the railroad tracks," Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs said.
Police had information that the salvage yard would be a good place to look and the tracking dogs tracked the suspects to the salvage yard.
Dobbs says he told one of the suspects he was lucky he didn't get shot after escaping.
"He said 'If I'd a been a citizen I'd a shot me too,'" Dobbs said.
Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley says it is 4.1 miles from the jail to scrap yard where the suspects were caught.
The three were being held in the same area of the jail and worked as a team to escape, according to the sheriff's department.
The inmates allegedly climbed into the ceiling and through the ductwork to get out. Dobbs says the walls do not extend past the ductwork in the ceiling.
Dobbs says it was a short distance from where the inmates were to where they came out from the ceiling. He believes it took the inmates about five to 10 minutes to escape.
No word yet on additional charges.
Dobbs blames faulty building design for the inmates being able to escape.
He met with the county commission on Wednesday to discuss the jail's needs. They plan to bring in an engineer to evaluate the jail.
Dobbs also says no blame is being placed on guards at the center.
"Myself and the previous two sheriffs have fought the design and construction flaws in this jail. It's frustrating beyond words," Dobbs said. "We have drywall ceilings in a jail. That's just unfathomable. The walls don't go completely up to the ceiling. It just baffles the mind when the jail was being built why there would be these shortcomings," he said.
Dobbs says he does not feel like anything was out of the ordinary Monday night.
"Like any jail there's a lot of noise, ambient noise, doors slamming, constant buzzers, inmates asking constant request," Dobbs said during a 3 p.m. press conference Tuesday.
Only two officers were on duty to supervise 94 inmates and to book other detainees arrested off the street Monday night. Six inmates total were in the pod the three inmates escaped from Monday.
The jail is built to hold about 125 inmates.
"First stop tomorrow [Wednesday] morning is to the county commission to say 'I told you so,'" Dobbs said Tuesday.
Moving forward, Dobbs says he thinks the escape will be a wake up call for the "powers that be."
"The people's protection should come way before potholes," he said.
The Butler County Justice Center is still on lockdown until they get a welder to fix the hole in the jail pod they escaped from, according to Butler County Commissioner Ed Strenfel.
The Butler County Sheriff's Office, Poplar Bluff Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and at least four other law enforcement agencies searched for the inmates.
Dobbs estimates between 50 to 100 people actively looking for the inmates.
Quite a few people called in with information.
Police conducted neighborhood canvasses and checked abandoned houses in the area.
Area schools heightened security as a result of the escape.
"Safety is always the number one priority especially for our kids," Chief Danny Whiteley with Poplar Bluff Police Department said.
Whiteley says he was in constant contact with schools.
"I kept our school principals informed and they acted accordingly," Poplar Bluff School Superintendent Chris Hon said.
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