How'd they escape? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How'd they escape?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 3:36 PM

I'd say this detail-filled photograph by Lynn Brennan in the Evening Tribune of Hornell, N.Y., tells quite a bit of the story about how those two killers escaped from Cummins prison last Friday night.

Jeffrey Grinder and Calvin Adams waived extradition today and are being held without bond. But the focus of the story is what turned up in a search of their getaway vehicle, which crashed after a police chase in upstate New York.

Badges? They had 'em. ID cards with bar codes and photos of real Correction Department employees? They had'em. Caps. Handcuffs. Leather belts and accessories. 15 keys belonging to the Correction Department? The stuff was hidden in the car used to make the getaway.

The newspaper in the town where the cons were caught has advanced the details far beyond what I've seen locally. (Dina, I'm still standing by for your return call. UPDATE: Dina Tyler, the prison spokesman, checks the blog now and again. She called and filled me in on a lot of the details of the escape that I'd been lacking -- see jump. She said officials are anxious to get a look at the uniforms and gear in hopes of figuring out where it was obtained. She reminded me that inmate crafts include leather work, though of course the goods are not supposed to be sold to other inmates.)

Rich stuff. Notes found in the car indicated the killers complained about high gas prices during their trip. Stocked with Bacardi and roll-your-own smokes, they apparently were headed to New York and a boat to South America. Read on. But it's hard to figure how this won't lead to some culpability inside the prison, where five guards who worked entrances and exits have already been relieved without pay.

“I guess I wasn’t expecting to find the keys and all the instruments,” he said. The keys were attached to a leather belt holder that had Adams’ name embossed on the back.

The identical uniforms consisted of navy blue pants with light blue long sleeve shirts with Arkansas Department of Corrections patches on the right sleeve and navy blue hats with ADC printed on them and matching heavy jackets. Along with the uniforms, two sets of brand new handcuffs with a key that unlocked them, leather sheaths, leather belts, a flashlight holder and plastic security identification swipe cards with bar codes were found. The identification cards had photos of actual ADC workers.

“They had to make sure they left before the real correctional officers left,” said Murray mentioning that he was sure the cards were used to unlock doors at the prison during the escape.

“I think it’s important for the public to know how they got out,” he said.

A pair of guard boots were found with the uniforms and one of the men was wearing the other pair.

“(Arkansas Department of Corrections) said they were going to send somebody up to get them,” said Aini.

Besides the uniforms police found a large bottle of Bacardi rum, several bags of tobacco and rolling papers, photos and other miscellaneous items in the trunk of the vehicle. The men were in possession of cash, but the amount was not disclosed.

Aini, who interviewed both of the men, said receipts in the car and hand written directions on a note pad indicated the paths they had travelled.

He said the men complained about gas prices being more expensive as they travelled further north and mentioned they were concerned about running out of gas before they got to New York City. 

Aini said one of them said he had a friend there that was going to meet him with a boat and take him to South America.

Dina Tyler, the prison spokesman, tells me they have camera footage of inmates walking into the prison library in their whites and then coming out of the library in uniform. Further footage shows them in the prison hallway and then exiting the prison gates at shift change, along with about 60 other guards, acting as if they were heading home after a long day. The surveillance cameras outside can roughly date when the getaway car arrived at the prison, but it didn't capture, because it sweeps, the arrival of the car, presumably with another car helping those making the dropoff.

Tyler confirms that she's heard one of the outside participants in the alleged plot might have traded use of the car for promise of cocaine. She says she doesn't know yet if the ID cards had legitimate bar codes. She said the escape had hastened prison plans to add a thumbprint scan for checking people who enter and leave hte prison. The cards need not be swiped for exit, she said, but the swiping makes a record for time cards. If a card isn't swiped, an employee must make a request to adjust the time on pay records.

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