Local News

Northampton County Jailer Charged After Inmate Escapes

Posted June 24, 2002

— A Northampton County jailer has been charged after an inmate he was transporting escaped Tuesday morning.

Keith Williams, a Northampton County jailer, told officials he was taking inmate

Darnell Mason

, 34, of Henrico, to Nash General Hospital in Rocky Mount when he was allegedly held up at gunpoint.

Authorities were told to look out for three black men in dark suits, driving a black sport utility vehicle. Authorities later discovered Williams' story was not true and that he released Mason. Officials said Mason, a former police officer, agreed to give Williams $521 in cash and a $20,000 check to allow him to escape.

In Nash County, Williams was charged with accepting a bribe from Mason. Williams was in jail Tuesday with bond set at $20,000.

"We followed up on the case and things did not add up from the beginning. We started verifying the information and from that, we went into getting the truth, so to speak," said Detective Mike Lewis of the Rocky Mount Police Department.

Mason was serving 10 to 12 months in the Northampton County jail for obtaining property under false pretense. A search of court records shows Mason has a long list of prior charges.

Officials said the check Mason gave Williams was no good.

According to the sheriff's office, this escape marks the fifth time in eight months that a prisoner at the jail has gotten away. In February 2001, an inmate escaped en route to Central Prison. In October 2001, an inmate escaped from a county vehicle. In April 2002, an inmate jumped out of a second-story courtroom window to escape and last week, an inmate was able to kick his way out of a holding cell. In all of the prior cases, the inmates were later captured by authorities.

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