Nathaniel Lewis, 30, was reported missing at 7:30 a.m. Officials say a guard last spoke to him during rounds at 3:30 a.m. Rounds take place about every 30 minutes.
Lewis apparently put a stuffed shirt in his bed as a decoy to make the guards think he was still there.
"We have a man missing. We suspect that he possibly had some help," says Sheriff Thomas Breedlove.
Breedlove suspects Lewis escaped from the jail through a window into the recreation yard. Investigators say screws holding the window in place were unfastened from the outside, leading them to believe Lewis had help from the inside.
How Lewis got through two sets of fences topped with razorwire remains a mystery. There were no breaks in either fence.
The sheriff's department is interviewing the seven guards who worked overnight as well as many of the jail's 135 inmates.
Authorities say they have no reason to believe Lewis is still in the area.
Lewis is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and robbery with a dangerous weapon for a January incident in which he allegedly broke into Carl Fuller's Kittrell home and shot the homeowner in the head. He was arrested in New York in March in connection with the murder.m
Belinda Newsome, Fuller's girlfriend and mother of his 3-year-old daughter, says she will have sleepless nights until Lewis is caught.
"I'm still going to keep hope. I'm going to keep on thinking that they are going to catch him because you know, you can't run forever. Sooner or later they will catch him," she says.
Authorities say Lewis sometimes changes his appearance. Anyone who sees him is asked to call police immediately.
TheState Bureau of Investigationis assisting in the search and called for the nationwide hunt. andMichelle Singer
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