Six jail escapees captured in New Orleans

Published 2:20 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Six inmates who escaped from the Lincoln County Jail late Mondaynight were captured Wednesday morning in New Orleans after spendingjust more than 30 hours on the run.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said his deputies, assistedby the U.S. Marshals Service, apprehended the entire group in apair of raids at separate hotels in the Big Easy around 5 a.m. and9:05 a.m. All six escapees are being held in the Jefferson ParishJail and could be extradited back to Lincoln County by Thursday, hesaid.

“Based on information we received (Tuesday) night and throughinvestigative techniques, we were able to find a location where wethought they might be in New Orleans,” Rushing said. “U.S. Marshalshit it and my officers were there to verify them.”

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The apprehended escapees include Ahmad R. Butler, 22, of 920Chippewa St.; James R. Durr, 33, of 1620 East Nola Road; Austin R.Hart, 16, of 338 Bogue Chitto Road; Bobby J. Hudson, 26, of 306Brister St.; Justin S. Leake, 31, of 2883 Grandview Lane; and ChadM. Wallace, 29, of 148 Wakefield Lane.

Butler is facing murder charges in the June 17 killing of21-year-old Anthony Nichols of McComb, who was shot dead near aconvenience store on South First Street in Brookhaven.

Durr is charged with grand larceny of personal property, whileHart is facing charges of burglary of a motor vehicle. Rushing saidHart was being held with adult inmates because he was tried as anadult in court, adding the Lincoln County Jail doesn’t holdjuveniles unless directed by the court.

The remaining three inmates face various drug charges. All wereawaiting trial.

All six escapees will now face charges of escape, which carriesa maximum penalty of five years in prison, Rushing said.Investigators are working to determine if the escapees were aidedin their breakout, and more charges may be coming for their allegedhelpers, he said.

“Anybody we can track down who might have helped them will becharged as an accessory,” Rushing said. “Obviously, they would havehad to have some way to go, some mode of transport.”

How the six escapees reached New Orleans remains underinvestigation, Rushing said.

The inmates escaped the jail sometime around midnight Monday byburning out a plexiglass window and prying apart the metal slatsthat covered it outside, using bed sheets as a rope to descend fromthe third-story cell. Six other inmates housed with them in theblock stayed behind.

With all six escapees now in custody, the sheriff has alreadybegun a jail-wide review of security.

“We’re going to review all of our security – everything I’ve got- and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Rushing said.

Rushing said the jail’s camera system monitors the cellblocks asa whole but can’t see into individual cells. No camera covers thefacility’s south end facing Second Street, where the escapees burstinto temporary freedom.

“We’ll add cameras as needed, other security as needed,” hesaid. “The way this jail is designed, you have to have certainjailors at certain locations. A security review is already underway.”