Local News

Northampton Sheriff Trying To Put Lock-Down On Escaped Inmates Problem

Posted June 19, 2002

— Investigators say they are still looking for an inmate who apparently paid his way out of custody Tuesday. Police say the Northampton County jailer took a bribe, then let his inmate sneak away. It is the fifth escape from Northampton County jailers in the past 18 months, and the man in charge of the jail is looking for possible solutions to the problem.

Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent said jailer Keith Williams and inmate Darnell Mason may have been planning the escape for weeks.

"All of the policy was followed as far as the inmate being taken out and transported, so there was nothing to indicate that this incident was going to take place," he said.

Residents in Northampton County are still talking about Williams releasing Mason while he was being transported to Nash County Hospital. Authorities said Mason gave Williams cash and a $20,000 check. Authorities later discovered the check was worthless. Williams has been charged with accepting a bribe from Mason and he is currently in jail with bond set at $20,000.

"That doesn't sound good at all, and I feel that better pay could make them have a second thought on their careers," Northampton County resident Ivey Boyd said.

"The sheriff wasn't doing the driving and I don't think the sheriff could have helped that. I think the sheriff is doing a swell job," Northampton County resident James Mayo said.

Vincent said he will meet soon with the county manager to talk about solutions.

"I know we need some more personnel to help supervise and handle inmates and just general security around the courthouse," he said.

Vincent said better salaries for his jailers would also help. Right now, a starting salary for a jailer in Northampton County is a little more than $18,000. Vincent said most of his 16 jailers are making $20,000. Vincent admits getting workers would be hard to get, due to monetary concerns.

Northampton County deputies said they are searching places Mason is known to visit in their area. Rocky Mount police are also looking for Mason, since he lived in Rocky Mount a few years ago.


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