Local News

Officer Fired After Chatham Jailbreak

Posted February 21, 2008 11:51 a.m. EST
Updated February 21, 2008 3:33 p.m. EST

— A detention officer has been fired for violating procedures and allowing five inmates to escape the Chatham County Detention Center two weeks ago, authorities said Thursday.

Five inmates broke out of the jail on Feb. 4 after overpowering a detention officer. The men grabbed the officer's keys and radio, changed clothes, left through a side door and used a coat to scale a fence topped with razor wire, authorities said.

Four of the men were recaptured within hours. Stewart Wendell Baldwin, 30, of 130 Mann's Chapel Road in Pittsboro, remains at large.

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office conducted an internal review of the incident and determined that procedures in place to prevent such escapes weren't followed, and the senior detention officer on duty the night of the jailbreak has been fired, Sheriff Richard Webster said in a statement.

"Failure to follow these procedures and policy was the ultimate reason for this incident. Other issues that were indirectly related were shortages in staff, technology upgrades and the need for an up-to-date facility," Webster said. "Correcting any of these issues would dramatically supplement the security level of the facility. I will continue to address them as budgetary issues."

Baldwin was being held in the jail on felony drug charges and a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. Authorities said they don't think Baldwin is a danger to the public unless he is approached.

Anyone with information about Baldwin's whereabouts is asked to call the Chatham County Sheriff's Office at 919-542-2811.