Five escapees still at large

Courtesy photo Five Curry County Detention Center inmates are still at large after escaping through the roof at 9:45 p.m. Sunday.

By Sharna_Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Two of the eight inmates who escaped Sunday night from the Curry County Adult Detention Center were captured Monday night in Texas, according to officials.

Raynaldo Enriquez, 19, was captured around 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Lubbock area, according to Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller. Javier Zapata, 19, was captured about 11:15 p.m. in Cactus, Texas, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Victor Apodaca was captured as he ran away from the jail on Sunday night.

The five remaining inmates — who escaped by cutting a hole in the jail’s roof — remained at large on Monday night.

Other escapees include convicted killer Edward Salas and 19-year-old Larry McClendon Jr., who is charged with murder, according to law enforcement.

All five remaining escapees have been accused in connection with violent crimes.

Police believe most of the men have separated but investigators believe two of them remain together, Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said at an afternoon news conference.

“You travel in numbers it usually means you’ll get caught easier,” he said. “You’re easier to spot.”

Federal agencies including the FBI, Border Patrol and U.S. Marshal’s Office are involved and law enforcement across New Mexico and into West Texas are on alert.

Murray urged the public to call police if they spot someone who looks like an escapee.

“We’re still requesting the eyes and ears of the community,” Murray said. He said the suspects should be considered armed and dangerous.

Authorities spent Sunday night and Monday interviewing the escapees’ friends and families. Several search warrants were served throughout the community at locations the inmates are known to frequent, Murray said.

“Law enforcement will be working ‘round the clock to ensure the safety of the community,” Murray said.

Murray said the inmates used plumbing pipes to climb up to the roof where they cut a hole with handmade tools and slipped on top of the two-story jail about 9:45 p.m. on Sunday. Murray said there is evidence that at least some of the inmates jumped into an evergreen tree in an attempt to break their fall.

Jail-issued orange jumpsuits were also found on the jail roof and in a dumpster at 14th and Mitchell Streets behind McDonald’s restaurant.

“It was a plan that came together (fairly quickly, but) took at least a couple of days,” Chandler said during a Monday afternoon press conference.

Officials said the escape was discovered when Clovis police officers noticed two people in orange jumpsuits running in the vicinity of the jail. One inmate, Apodaca, was captured after a short foot pursuit, but the other man escaped.

Road blocks were set up overnight in Tucumcari, Fort Sumner, Santa Rosa and Clovis.

Police were called to the detention center late Monday night for a report of noises on the roof. Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said the facility was locked down and a head count showed all prisoners were accounted for.

Clovis’ jail has been plagued by problems in recent years, including escapes.

Since 2006 there have been four other escapes, including two inmates that fled while on medical furlough.

And this year four detention officers have been arrested for smuggling drugs and contraband into the jail.

The latest escape comes amid changes in jail leadership.

CNJ reported earlier this month that Warden Leslie Johnson was due to retire on Aug. 16. She had managed the facility since March 2006.

Deputy Warden Audrey Barriga, who has more than 11 years corrections experience, has served as interim warden after Johnson’s departure.

Barriga said the pod in which the escapees were housed is known as Pod 1. “There’s some bad guys in there,” she said.

Inmates are free to roam the pods during the day and are locked down in individual cells at 11 p.m., she said.

County Manager Lance Pyle, whose office oversees the jail, told reporters Keith Bessette, an investigator with the sheriff’s department, has been transferred to the jail to assist with the investigation.

Christina Snell of Hank’s Bail Bonds said a detention officer — whom she refused to identify — told her it is suspected someone working at the jail helped inmates escape.

Snell said her source told her detention officers were sent home from the jail after the escape.

But Undersheriff Wesley Waller said there has been no evidence found in the investigation to indicate involvement of jail staff in the escape. Pyle said officers sent home Sunday night were released from duty because they had been working long shifts.

Waller said interviews are being conducted — “and that includes interviews of the employees,” he said — but no employees have been named as suspects or participants in connection with the escapes.

Enriquez had been jailed pending multiple charges of aggravated burglary, robbery and assault/battery, police said.

Zapata had been jailed pending charges for aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony, shooting at a motor vehicle and abuse of a child.

The five who remain at large:

• Victor Sotelo, 26, 5-foot-3 inches, 135 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his stomach that reads “SHORTY.”

He faces pending charges for aggravated assault.

Last known address: 2193 S. Roosevelt Road 6, Portales.

Place of birth: Clovis