Two inmates were caught while attempting to escape from the White County jail on Monday, the sheriff’s office said.
According to a news release, 20-year-old Melvin Crowe and Rickey Martin, 34, were able to get into a false ceiling and tried to move through the plumbing chase.
Jailers became aware of the escape attempt around 9:30 p.m., and the jail was immediately locked down, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies and officers from multiple jurisdictions assisted inside the jail and created a perimeter around Queensway Street, Benton Avenue and the Hastings Avenue block, release said.
Lt. Scott Seiders, a spokesman for the White County sheriff’s office, said Tuesday morning that they were not truly concerned that the men had gotten outside the jail.
“The design of the jail prevented their being able to progress more than a few yards. At no time did they leave the secure facility or have any contact with the public,” the sheriff’s office said.
“Our immediate concern was that we knew they were in the ceiling and we were assessing how far they could’ve gone, but we wanted to react as if it was the worst possible scenario to be prepared,” Seiders said.
The two men were found in the ceiling around 10:30 p.m. and spoke with a lieutenant. They both surrendered and were moved to a different area of the jail, the release said.
Seiders said that they were investigating how the inmates got into the ceiling.
“At the moment, we’re unsure if the inmates tampered with the false ceiling or if it was installed incorrectly,” he said.
The false ceiling prevents inmates from tugging on pipes, electrical cords and other infrastructure, he said. The cell blocks are encased in concrete outside of the false ceiling.
Seiders said that the steel security ceiling does not have fasteners that they could have tampered with, but the jailers have moved everyone out of that cell block to investigate.
“We are going to check all the other pods as well; if it is an installation defect, we need to investigate,” he said.
Both men have been charged with third-degree escape and are set to appear in court on Wednesday, Seiders said.
“We’ve never had an escape here,” he said. “Other counties still come and tour our jail. We have the physical training and the physical infrastructure to keep our inmates safe.
“We’re not happy about what these inmates did, but the safety of the inmates and the public was never breached,” Seiders said.
Crowe is being held for criminal attempt-murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. Martin is being held for furnishing prohibited items as well as a felony warrant in another county, the sheriff’s office said.