District attorney reviewing state police escape report

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

District Attorney Matt Chandler said he received a criminal investigation report late Thursday afternoon from state police in connection with the eight inmate escapes from the Curry County Adult Detention Center on Aug. 24.

Chandler said he will not be able to comment on the report until he has had a chance to evaluate it.

“It’s a very extensive report and it’s going to take some time to review,” Chandler said, explaining the report contains numerous statements from inmates and detention center employees in addition to other information gathered in the investigation.

Chandler said the report will help his office determine how eight inmates were able to escape the jail undetected. The report should also indicate whether the inmates who escaped received any “internal assistance,” Chandler said. If they did, he said criminal charges will be filed.

It could be next week before evaluations of the report are complete.

The inmates escaped from the jail by climbing plumbing pipes inside a wall between two pods and cutting a hole through the roof. Four inmates remain at large, including a convicted killer and suspected killer.

The escape was discovered when a Clovis police officer captured one inmate near the jail the night of the escape.

Law enforcement has said the inmates escaped from two different pods by climbing through plumbing access doors that should have been locked.

The planning took place over two to three days and the work to cut through the roof using handmade tools took about seven hours.

“The people of this community want and deserve to know if there was inside assistance in the escape. … As a district attorney, my focus is the criminal investigation as to how eight inmates escaped unnoticed,” Chandler said.

Federal, state and county officials have been involved in an ongoing manhunt for the nearly three weeks the inmates have been on the run.

The fugitives were featured on the Fox television show “America’s Most Wanted” last week.

Curry County Undersheriff Wesley Waller said earlier in the week law enforcement was following up on leads generated from the show.

He declined to say how many tips were received.