Sheriff says inmates dug through cell wall to escape jail

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WXTX) - The three inmates who escaped from the Russell County Jail Thursday night are back behind bars, and now the three people who helped them in their attempts are joining them.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told News Leader 9 the timeline of events leading up to the three inmates' escape Monday.

Thursday afternoon Adam Barringer, John Hendrix and Charles Smith came up with a plan to get out of jail. Sheriff Taylor explained, "They planned it that morning or sometime during the day and that night they executed the plan."

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor says their escape began with a piece of metal they broke off a door inside the jail. He says they used it to dig through a cell wall that lead them into a utility closet, "They also used that same piece of metal to breach the hole that went up into the attic."

Taylor says once in the attic the inmates made their way to the jail yard and located a ladder left there from a construction crew, "We have had extensive conversations with the company that is the general contractor of the jail, their foreman, They have certainly been put on notice about what is going on. They just simply made a mistake and left the ladder inside the gate instead of outside where it was supposed to be placed."

Before they left the Russell County Jail, Adam Barringer called his mom, Loretta Singletary, said Sheriff Taylor. "We learned very early in the night that Adam Barringer had called his mother from the facility, Miss Loretta Anne Singletary, and asked that she arrange for someone to pick him up at the Rainbow Foods across from the jail on Highway 431."

That ride was convicted murderer Adam Barringer's brother, Chris Barringer. Charles Smith went his own way and Barringer and Hendrix crawled into the trunk of Chris Barringer's car. Because deputies were swarming the area, the driver got scared and dropped the two inmates off in the woods. Before Adam Barringer and John Hendrix began the next leg of their trip they were given a shotgun by Adam's brother and a change of clothes from Audrey Lucille.

Deputies say they spent the next few hours following their trail until the pair emerged early Friday morning. They told a passing driver their car had broken down and they needed a ride. A concerned citizen saw the men get inside the car and dialed 911. The inmates were picked up shortly after that.

Charles Smith was also picked up because of a citizen's call. After Smith broke into a house, and stole a pair of Army fatigues. He was spotted by a neighbor who called police.

Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith told News Leader 9, "We really do appreciate the citizen tips we got. That was very instrumental in being able to capture these guys in a quick manner because the people calling in said we need to check this and that out. We had teams ready to go and we sent them out to check up on those tips."

Sheriff Taylor says this escape will make him take a closer look at the facilities and practices at his jail, "Everything the sheriff's office corrections division did is still on-going. I expect there will be some disciplinary if not termination at the end of it."

Sheriff Taylor held a press conference Monday applauding his staff for capturing the inmates. He thanked more than ten departments for their assistance in capturing three escaped inmates. Those department are: the Russell County Sheriff's Office, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Phenix City Police Department, Russell County District Attorney's Office, Alabama State Troopers, U.S. Marshal's, Department of Corrections, Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, and the canine team from an Alabama state prison

Taylor said, "Certainly we wish nobody had ever gotten out of the jail. But I think there's not a jail built that people can't escape from. And I think in this circumstance, when it does occur, you have to measure the department on how well we do and how diligently we try to get them back."

Taylor says tracking dogs, along with the tireless efforts of officers and deputies, helped keep a close eye on the inmates the entire time they were out of the jail, "We were literally right behind them the whole way and like I said, it's a miracle that we didn't step on them. In their interview they were talking about how they were scared to breathe because we were that close to them."

Sheriff Taylor says in the past 22 years this is only the third escape from the facility, "We haven't lost anybody in this jail. Every person who has ever gotten out has come back: the three in 2006, the one in 1994 and the three here."

And although he hates that these three men were able to get out, he is proud of his team for getting them back so quickly.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley said, "I run a jail, we've had people escape from my jail. Like the Sheriff said, it's not a matter of if you have an escape, it's a matter of what are you going to do when they get out."

Chief Smith added, "All the inmates in all the jails in this area need to know that if they do happen to exploit some way to get out, we're going to be right there to pick them up and put them back in. They aren't going to be out long."

Barringer, Hendrix, and Smith have all been charged with escape in the first degree, meaning they could all have another two to 20 years added to their sentences. Loretta Singletary, Christopher Barringer and Audrey Lucille have been arrested and charged with facilitating, a crime that could send them to jail for one to 10 years.

Copyright 2012 WXTX  All rights reserved.