Search still on for jail escapees

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MONTICELLO – Two men who escaped from the Lawrence County Jailafter allegedly assaulting a jailer Sunday night are still on theloose, officials said Tuesday.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department is looking for AaronSmith, 24, a 5-foot 11-inch black male weighing approximately 300pounds, and David Sanchez, 20, a 5-foot 9-inch white maleapproximately 120 pounds. Following the assault and the escape, thejailer was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a brokennose and released.

Sheriff Joel Thames said a 2001 green Honda car bearing thelicense number LWB 855 was stolen from a Timber Lane Roadresidence. The vehicle belonged to a woman who was arrested at thesame time as Sanchez.

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“The Honda stolen the other night, along with her purse, we feelpretty certain that they were the ones that got it,” Thamessaid.

Undersheriff Willie Wallace said bloodhounds were brought infrom Louisiana Sunday night to assist in locating the escapees, butthat the weather conditions made finding a scent almostimpossible.

“We didn’t pick up any scent or anything, but we found theirjail clothes a little piece from the jail and the (jail) keys wherethey discarded those,” Wallace said.

Thames said the abandoned items were found near the LawrenceCounty Animal Rescue League.

“It was behind the jail, right near the animal rescue league,the clothes and the jail key were together,” he said. “It was a bigrelief to get those keys back.”

Officials said a call came in Monday night that two peoplefitting the descriptions of Smith and Sanchez were walking alongHenry Smith Road on the Lincoln and Lawrence county line, butThames said that lead quickly evaporated when more dogs from theLincoln County Sheriff’s Department and the Brookhaven PoliceDepartment were brought in.

“We called for the dog, and couldn’t find tracks where thepeople said they were,” Wallace said. “It was pretty wet, so weshould have been able to see some tracks. But you have to check outevery lead.”

Thames said it’s hard to tell if the people they were attemptingto track were even the escapees in the first place.

Officials said they have no reason to believe the two inmateshave parted company, but that further interviews are pending.

“We’ve been talking to some family members and we have one incustody we’ll interview today,” Wallace said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol and Lawrence County Civil Defensehave assisted in the search, officials said. MHP Troop M PublicAffairs Officer Sgt. Rusty Boyd said troopers helped search, butare also keeping an eye on the highways.

“We’re aware that we’re looking for them, and we’re watching forthem in our patrolling of the area,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lawrence County Civil Defense Director RobertPatterson said citizens patrolled the streets looking for theescapees the first night, as well.

Thames asked that citizens be aware of the missing men, andanyone coming into contact with them or the stolen vehicle shouldcontact the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department at (601)587-2961.