By Kevin Baird
CNJ Staff Writer
The two inmates who escaped from the Roosevelt County Detention Center on June 22 used a metal bunk bed leg to pound their way through the ceiling and roof before jumping off the roof, according to Jail Administrator David Casanova.
Casanova said he does not know how long it took for Stephen Phillips and Ruben Lozano to break the leg off the bunk bed, or how long it took them to breech the roof.
Casanova said he did know the inmates used the T-shaped side of the bunk bed leg as a handle, which provided leverage, as they thrust upwards to break through an air conditioning vent in their cell and part of the concrete ceiling.
The AC vents in jail are metal panels about one foot square. As of Friday, the bunk bed and floor of the cell still had chunks of concrete from the ceiling strewn across the cell.
The inmates then moved a thin-metal air duct, which was connected to the vent, out of their way, according to Casanova. He said the 3 to 4-foot high crawlspace between the ceiling and the roof had plenty of room for the duct to be moved out of the way.
Casanova said they used the same technique of punching upwards with the bunk bed leg to break through the roof made up of layers of metal, insulation, and a rooftop of tar mixed with gravel.
The bunk bed leg, which is hollow at the business end, was filled with insulation from the roof.
Video surveillance shows the two inmates jumping from the roof at 9:02 p.m. Lozano landed on his feet and sprinted away. Although video did not capture Phillips landing, he can be seen hobbling and hopping away into a field north of the jail.
Casanova said he did not know how tall the roof was at the Roosevelt County Detention center. The inmates brought a blanket up to the roof and tied it off, then draped it over the outside wall.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Milan Parker said Lozano was injured when he jumped from the roof, but declined comment on the specific injuries, citing legal reasons.
About 20 minutes after the inmates jumped off the roof, Phillips showed up at the home of Jeannie Ornealas and asked for help. Ordeals convinced Phillips to turn himself in and she made him a bologna sandwich while they waited for police to arrive.
Lozano was recaptured in Midland, Texas, Friday morning by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, which is comprised of deputy U.S. Marshals and Midland County Sheriff’s deputies.
The hole in the ceiling made by Lozano and Phillips has been repaired. Casanova said his staff will reinforce all the AC vents in the jail and he is exploring ways to make the crawlspace more secure.