Inmate escapes: Deputies seek robbery suspect
Published 8:48 pm Monday, May 8, 2006
By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – Publisher
An Escambia County Detention Center inmate escaped Thursday during a change in routine prompted by construction at the facility.
Sheriff's deputies are looking for William Mitchell, 47, who was held on federal charges of receiving stolen property and a fugitive from justice warrant for the U.S. Marshal's office.
Sheriff Grover Smith said Mitchell is a suspect in a bank robbery.
Mitchell apparently escaped through a hole in the fence of the exercise yard, where inmates were gathered while repairs were being made on Unit 3 of the detention facility, Smith said.
Mitchell, a black male, is 6'4” and weighs about 175 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair.
He had been incarcerated in Escambia County since Feb. 15 on two counts of receiving property in the first degree with a $10,000 bond.
Chief Deputy Maj. Mike Murphy said Friday that officers have not been able to determine where Mitchell might be headed. He is considered dangerous, officials said.
Mitchell would have been wearing a white jumpsuit when he escaped.
Correctional officers discovered the fence had been cut around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, but officials said later Mitchell could have been missing up to two hours.
Smith said officers don't know whether Mitchell scaled the outer fence at the facility - which is topped with barbed wire - or if he went on top of the building and jumped to make his escape.
On Thursday afternoon, armed deputies and other law enforcement officials were gathered outside the jail and were checking the roof. Inmates were still inside the exercise area, which is surrounded by a chain-link fence, while deputies and other officials also patrolled the grassy area within the outer fence, which is a chain-link fence reinforced by mesh strips.
Smith said an investigation into the escape is under way.
Three inmates escaped the jail in December by jamming the lock mechanism on a hallway door and then getting to the roof, where they jumped to make their escape. Shortly after, the county commission approved a contract to repair and replace a majority of the locks at the jail.
Mitchell will face additional escape charges once he is captured, officials said.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the Escambia County Sheriff's Office at 251-809-0741.
The Department of Corrections dog tracking team responded Thursday but was unable to pick up a scent, Smith said.
Sheriff's deputies were assisted by officers from the Brewton Police Department, East Brewton Police Department, Flomaton Police Department, Alabama State Troopers and Alabama Department of Corrections.