The escape of two men from the Cannon County Jail Wednesday was a crime of opportunity that could have been worse.
Sheriff Darrell Young said Thursday morning that there were 11 men in the exercise yard at the Cannon County Jail at the time two men crawled through a hole in a fence gate, and then jumped over a barbed wire fence.
The two men, James W. Hill and Aubrey Sanders, made their escape shortly after noon Wednesday. Each was apprehended Wednesday night following an extensive manhunt which involved the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department, the Woodbury Police Department and several area, state and national law enforcement areas.
Sanders was captured along Sunny Slope Road and was taken into custody along with a female subject, Lisa Winslow. Winslow has been charged with aiding and abetting an escapee and is being held on a bond of $500,000.
Sheriff Young said it is not yet known how Sanders and Winslow came in contact Wednesday, but indicated they had a prior relationship and both have been involved in meth making in the past. The sheriff said Sanders had a cell phone on him at the time he was located.
According to the sheriff, Sanders was found sitting along the side of the road and appeared to have injured a leg during his flight from the jail. Authorities were alerted to his whereabouts by a female who spotted him in the back of a truck coming out of Bryant Lane. Winslow had provided Sanders with a change of clothes, Sheriff Young said.
Sanders was in jail on meth-making charges. Both he and Hill, who was charged in March along with his mother and sister with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated arson and especially aggravated robbery, both face additional charges of felony escape.
Hill has also been charged with theft over $500. Sheriff Young said that while officers were concentrating on the search for Sanders in the Sunny Slope Road area, Hill managed to return to the sheriff’s department, enter the workshop in the rear, and steal a camera and police radio from a patrol car.
“My opinion is that when he (Hill) was listening to that (radio) and when he heard everyone go to Sunny Slope he went up Water St,” Sheriff Young said. Hill was captured without resistance near the Woodbury Church of Christ.
The sheriff believes that while none of the other prisoners in the exercise yard escaped one or more likely assisted Hill and Sanders in their effort to flee. Interviews of all inmates who were in the area were being conducted today to find out what happened.
Sheriff Young said the situation which allowed the pair to escape was caused in part by the department being “way understaffed.”
“I need four (additional jailers), but I am asking (the county commission) for two,” he said. “And the camera system (at the jail) is old and worn out.”
As of today there are 83 prisoners being housed at the jail, 56 males and 27 females. It is a 46-bed facility. The 27 females are held in a cell which has only eight beds.
The prisoners were being kept in the exercise yard at the time of the escape while repair work was being done to one of the cells.
“We had a problem in these guys cell. They were tearing things apart and chipping holes through the wall because it adjoins the women’s cell. They tore the metal stripping off the bottom of the door and were sharpening shanks out of it.
“We had maintenance come in to try to fix the problem. They (prisoners) usually get an hour a day outside but they were out there a lot longer (on Wednesday) and knew that no one was monitoring the camera,” Sheriff Young said.
The Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission has been considering the sheriff’s request for two additional jailers. They are scheduled to meet tonight at the Cannon County Courthouse to finalize their recommendations on the 2011-2012 budget which will be presented to the full commission on July 16.