Local News

3 Vance County Inmates Found After Escape; 4 Others Still Sought

Posted May 19, 2000

— Three escapees from theVance County Jailhave been found; the search continues for the others who vanished during a fire at the jail Saturday night.

Jamil Lewis, Clayton Batchelor, and Michael Johnson were recaptured Sunday afternoon in Henderson.

Authorities are continuing their search for Donnell Haye, Macy Holden, Jr., Quentin Brooks and Everette Davis.

Vance County SheriffThomas Breedlove says inmates set fire to blankets and mattresses in two cells Saturday night, creating thick smoke.

Guards tried to keep the 165 inmates under control as they moved them away from the fire.

For Breedlove, the real culprit is insufficient staffing.

"Our help made a bad move. They started unlocking doors and allowing them to move upstairs from the dormitories," Breedlove said. Some inmates got outside during the confusion.

They pulled away the hooks that hold two chain link fences together. Seven men squeezed through the opening.

"If we had people with more experience, they would never have been turned loose," Breedlove said.

A frustrated Breedlove says, "We are unable to keep employees. We hire them and train them and they move on to greener pastures." The jail's pay starts at $18,000 per year.

"We have a shortage of help. We have trouble employing people here at the jail. They're leaving as fast as we hire them. We're training them, and they're leaving. We're training them, and they're leaving. We've got a real problem here," Breedlove said.

Breedlove says county commissioners are considering his recent request for more money for jail guards.

Initial reports from the jail indicated seven men were missing; jail officials later change their tally to six. Late Sunday afternoon the tally was again put at seven..

The sheriff says the inmates were well organized. They even broke into some lockers and stole clothes. They left their orange jumpsuits just outside the jail's fence.

Breedlove says the men who escaped should be considered dangerous.

This is the second escape from the Vance County Jail this month. Accused killerNathaniel Lewis escaped May 8.Authoritiescaught up with himin New York a few days later. -->andMichelle Singer


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