Two prisoners who escaped through the roof of the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center in Centerville Sunday night were captured Tuesday by Lafayette police, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s spokeswoman Traci Landry said in a news release.
Accused killer Christopher Horton and theft suspect Joshua Folks were apprehended at about 11 a.m. near railroad tracks while police responded to a trespassing complaint. The two inmates were apprehended without incident, the news release stated.
Patterson Police Chief Patrick LaSalle is questioning the time difference between discovery of the escape and notification of parish police departments.
“I can’t sit by and be quiet when my community is put in danger and I am not told for four or five hours,” LaSalle said.
The investigation of the escape indicates the inmates entered the ceiling and exited through the roof of the jail before making their way down a wall at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, the release stated.
At about 4 a.m. Monday, during a periodic check of inmates, Horton and Folks were found to be missing from their jail cells, Landry reported. The jail was placed on lockdown and personnel conducted a search of the facility, the news release stated. The search was expanded to the surrounding woods and grounds, the news release stated.
Landry said the jail facility has to be searched “in its entirety” before the sheriff issues an alert to notify the public of escaped inmates. “We want to make sure that when we issue something, it’s legitimate. We don’t want to cause unnecessary public alarm,” Landry said.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a be-on-the-lookout notification to area agencies Monday morning. Schools in the area were notified, and the parish First Call emergency alert system was implemented, the release stated.
Duval Arthur, St. Mary Parish Office of Homeland Security director, said he sent information to the automated First Call emergency alert system at 8:07 a.m. Monday.
Centerville School, Bayou Vista Elementary School and the Central Office Complex were on alert Monday and Tuesday due to the escape, St. Mary Parish Schools Superintendent Donald Aguillard said in an email.
The Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of St. Mary Parish Government, secured the breached area of the jail facility, the release stated.
Morgan City Police spokesman Lt. James Blair said Morgan City police got the call at 8:53 a.m. Monday to dispatch notifying police of the escaped inmates. Morgan City Assistant Police Chief Michael Banks, Berwick Police Chief James Richard and Franklin Police Chief Sabria McGuire said they did not want to comment on the time it took the sheriff’s office to notify the public of the escaped inmates.
A representative from the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office notified Berwick police of the escaped inmates at 7:42 a.m. Monday, Richard said.
McGuire said Franklin police were notified of the escaped inmates in the “early morning” Monday but did not give a specific time.
After their capture, Horton and Folks were charged on warrants for simple escape and criminal damage to property.
Horton, 28, was in jail after being indicted for first degree murder and obstruction of justice. Folks, 36, was jailed for theft and aggravated escape.
When asked how often the jail does inmate checks, Landry said, “The periodic checks are made several times during each of the shifts. We’re not going to give specifics on that, obviously, for security reasons.” How the inmates were able to get to Lafayette is still under investigation, Landry said.
LaSalle said he was called at about 8:30 a.m. about the escape. The difference in time between the escape and notification time placed his citizens in danger, he said.
“That means they waited four and a half hours to inform me and the citizens of Patterson and surrounding communities,” LaSalle said Monday morning. “The sheriff’s office needs to give serious consideration to reviewing its security measures at the facility and how timely they are in notifying other law enforcement agencies and the communities.”
LaSalle has said he intends to run for sheriff after having been defeated by Hebert in the 2011 election. He insisted his comments were not politically motivated.
Horton was said by his attorney to be “mentally retarded and suffers from more than one diagnosed mental illness” in September 2009, two years after his indictment for first degree murder in an alleged robbery and killing of his brother Adam Horton on Sept. 2, 2007.
That assessment of Horton’s mental condition and his ability to assist in his defense was made in a motion to form a sanity commission. Developments stemming from those pleadings have kept Horton’s trial from starting over the past six-and-a-half years.
Horton is accused by police of participating with another man named Jimmy Wright in the break-in of the Adam Horton’s Bayou Vista home in the Little Pine Trailer Park.
The victim was stabbed and robbed but both men gave different accounts of what happened in the affidavit of probable cause. Detectives were able to retrieve a sheathed knife allegedly used in the killing at Wilson’s Landing in Patterson, the affidavit said.
Horton’s attorneys claimed he has “serious impairments in expressive communication, ability to sustain attention ... memory and recall ... and impulse control.”
After a Dec. 3, 2009, sanity commission evaluation Horton was sent to Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System, Forensic Division in Jackson in an attempt to help Horton attain mental competency to assist in his trial.
Horton was able to attain mental competency while in the Jackson facility by May 17, 2011, according to an evaluation performed six months later on Nov. 29.
Horton has undergone another sanity evaluation. The court ruled on Dec. 21, 2012, that “the defendant is competent to proceed and the prosecution in this case can resume.” A trial date of April 14 has been set.
A ruling on a motion to suppress some of the evidence against Horton is scheduled for April 3.
Robert Fuhrer, Horton’s public defender, is claiming, among other things, that his client was arrested without a warrant and his incriminating statements were not lawfully obtained since he did not have “requisite intellect needed ... to intelligently waive his rights” specifically with regard to remaining silent and having an attorney present during questioning.