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Arkansas jail escapee surrenders at bar

Logan County deputies get call from tavern west of Paris by Dave Hughes | July 7, 2016 at 5:45 a.m.
Shaun Higham

Dirty, tired, hungry and bug-bitten, a Logan County jail escapee surrendered to sheriff's deputies Tuesday night after a week on the run.


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Sheriff's deputies were called to Mitch's Place tavern about 3 miles west of Paris about 9:15 p.m. where they found Shaun Higham drinking a beer, a Facebook posting by Sheriff Boyd Hicks said. Hicks said deputies didn't let Higham finish the beer, which the owner gave him, before taking him into custody.

"He was very cooperative and apologetic," Hicks said in the posting.

Higham, 45, and Zackary Coffer, 19, were being held on separate aggravated robbery charges when they escaped from the jail about 4 a.m. June 28 after Higham picked the lock on his cell door with a toothbrush, according to Hicks.

Coffer was recaptured that night about a half-mile from the jail. He was sentenced Friday in Logan County Circuit Court to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted aggravated robbery.

The county jail inmate roster posted Wednesday on the sheriff's Facebook page showed Higham and Coffer with the additional charge of second-degree escape.

The Facebook posting said a motorist reported seeing a man matching Higham's description wearing dirty scrubs and orange shoes walking east on Arkansas 22 toward Paris. While deputies searched that area, the tavern owner called the sheriff's office, at Higham's request, and reported that Higham was in the bar.

The escape of Higham and Coffer started a weeklong search that included federal, state, county and city law officers and other agencies including the Arkansas Department of Correction, the Office of Emergency Management and Arkansas State Parks. Helicopters and dog teams were brought in to aid in the search.

Hicks had concentrated the search for Higham west of Paris along an abandoned railroad bed. There were reports of a break-in of a trailer near the railroad bed and possible sightings over the succeeding days along the railroad bed, each farther west than the preceding report.

Despite bringing in helicopters for aerial searches and dogs to search for tracks or scent, none of the sightings was confirmed.

Searchers had run out of leads, and Hicks said Tuesday that he was meeting with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Arkansas State Police to possibly widen the search on the chance that Higham had left the area to reach family or friends in other parts of the state or in other states.

Higham had been in the county jail since June 12, 2015, when he and Brandon James, 31, were arrested in the robbery at gunpoint of the Subiaco Federal Credit Union. Court records show that Higham's trial is scheduled for July 22 in Logan County Circuit Court in Paris.

State Desk on 07/07/2016

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