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story.lead_photo.caption Matthew Armstrong, 30, (left) and Jason Brannon, 36

Authorities searched all day Sunday for an inmate charged with first-degree murder who escaped from a north Arkansas jail but said the man is still at large.

Matthew Armstrong, 30, escaped the Searcy County jail in Marshall at approximately 9:10 p.m. Saturday. Armstrong escaped with a second inmate, Jason Brannon, 36, who deputies caught early Sunday.

KARK-TV Channel 4 reported that three inmates overpowered a jailer Saturday night and that Armstrong and Brannon escaped.

A news release the Searcy County sheriff's office posted on Facebook said deputies would release few details because they do not want to tip Armstrong off.

Attempts to reach the sheriff's office were not returned Sunday.

Armstrong was arrested on March 1 on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Thornton. According to an affidavit for his arrest, Armstrong called the sheriff's office multiple times on Feb. 27, telling dispatchers that a woman had shot herself.

Armstrong led deputies to Thornton's body, which lay face-down on the ground, the affidavit said. It also said she held a pistol in one hand and that a rifle lay beneath her. Deputies said they saw a large gash on Thornton's forehead and noticed the magazine of the pistol lying on the ground, not in the gun.

Armstrong told investigators that Thornton had pulled up, pointed a handgun at him and told him she "wanted her chainsaw."

Thornton told Armstrong she was going to kill them both before shooting herself, according to the court documents. Armstrong said he left the scene because he did not have enough cellphone service to call 911, according to the affidavit.

The autopsy report from the state crime lab, however, indicated that Thornton died from both blunt force trauma and a gunshot to her head. Pathologist Jennifer A. Forsyth's report said the gunshot wound was not a contact nor proximity wound, and therefore was inconsistent with self-infliction.

Investigators arrested him two days after Thornton's death and placed him in the Searcy County jail where bail was set at $1 million.

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Metro on 07/16/2018

Print Headline: Murder suspect flees after jail break-out

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