Gustavo Giraldo escaped Monday from theOdom Correctional Institution. Giraldo jumped a double fence and ran across a field into the woods.
"It was right at shift change. The two tower officers were in the process of exchanging keys," says Odom Superintendent Charles Hill. "That process alone will distract officers momentarily."
Giraldo was convicted of killing his girlfriend's husband and was sentenced to life in Central Prison, which is considered maximum custody. He was transferred to the medium custody Odom Correctional Institution last August.
"Central Prison houses about 1,100 inmates. We have more than 3,000 inmates in the state prison system who have life sentences," says Tracy Little of theDepartment of Correction. "Common sense will tell someone that they all cannot stay in Central Prison."
Searchers found footsteps less than a mile from the prison near the river beyond the trees. The area is dense and swampy, making it tough for investigators to track Giraldo.
"We don't have any way of knowing if he is actually in the area," Hill says. "We don't have anything to tell us that he has gone any farther. All of our evidence says that he is close to us, so we are hoping that he runs out of gas before we do."
Fifty officers are doing vehicle patrols in the area. Investigators have set up a perimeter around the prison and a perimeter which extends several miles past the prison.